A 3-0 away defeat was yet again followed up by a home win as Blues came from behind to beat Stoke 2-1. The first hour of the game was a dreary affair, with the only excitement coming when Jude Bellingham was substituted on for the injured Montero after 30 minutes.
Montero didn’t see much of the ball, and when he had his first chance to get the ball and run at someone, injury struck, and his day was over.
Jude looked very comfortable when he came on. I’m unsure if his best position is a winger or a striker, but he made a few nice runs on the right wing, cutting in and running at defenders.
The first half petered out. The game had 0-0 written all over it, until we were caught off guard by a free kick just before the hour mark, when Lindsay had a tap in to give the visitors the lead.
Crowley replaced Villalba just before Stoke scored. We started to play much better, and the goal conceded proved to be the shot in arm that we needed.
We were much less lackadaisical and started to move the ball with real purpose, spurred on by Crowley. A classic Juke headed goal followed up by a heavily-deflected goal from Jude three minutes later gave us the lead.
For once, the last few minutes clinging on to a lead didn’t seem too painful. We managed the game well, keeping the ball in the Stoke half for a good chunk of time.
When the final whistle went, Jude celebrated in front of the Tilton, loving every second of it just like any of us fellow fans would.
Blues are now on 10 points, and outside the play-offs on goal difference.
Papering over the cracks
There has been lots of talk that our points tally is papering over the cracks of some pretty woeful performances. I understand these frustrations given the type of player that we’ve brought in and the obsession with Dongball.
Whilst some of our performances may not have been worthy of three points (see Brentford), it took us nine games last season to get our first win, and we’re currently six points better off after six games compared to last season. I’d much prefer to have points on the board than be seen to be playing a better style of football.
That being said, the Board does want our playing style to move forward. I find it odd, therefore, that we set up so defensively for away games, with not a hint of anything resembling creativity, and have only seemed slightly more attacking in our home games against Barnsley and Stoke.
As I’ve said before, Pep needs time to find the right system, and I do like that we have options, both in terms of tactics and players.
A fortnight ‘til Charlton
Annoyingly, with the season still so young, there is now a two-week international break. I don’t think many of our players will be called up for international duty, so this is the first decent amount of time with no immediate games since the transfer window closed that Pep will have with his squad.
I’m sure he’ll use it to impart his playing methods to the squad, which will hopefully provide some clarity to the players.
Our next game is a tricky one on 14 September against newly-promoted second-placed Charlton. If we can stem the flow of 3-0 away defeats, begin to find a bit of character as a team, and don’t just park the bus, it could be a good game against Lee Bowyer’s side.
Let’s get these international fixtures out the way then hopefully get a decent result in The Smoke.
Photo Courtesy: Roy Smiljanic / BCFC