Friday 17 November 2017

What a depressing and frustrating night away by the seaside!

Wanderers vs Sligo Rovers: Adam Hanlon chases down the ball in the Sligo half
Wanderers vs Sligo Rovers: Adam Hanlon chases down the ball in the Sligo half

We lost on Friday night. To Bray Wanderers. To Alan Mathews' Bray Wanderers. To Alan Mathews' below average Bray Wanderers - let that sink in.

It was probably the worst Sligo Rovers performance I have seen for years. I'm very 'glass half-full' but finding a positive from that performance is really tough.

On paper, there is no way in hell we should be losing to Bray Wanderers.

Look at our squad compared to theirs. There is not one single Bray player you would pick out and say 'he's a threat'. They seemed to be kicking a ball out of the ground every five minutes. Their football is terrible. And to be fair we would all be expecting them to go down this year.

But Rovers were no better on Friday night. I had no qualms about the starting eleven.

Losing Henderson to injury was a particularly huge blow. With Gavin Peers out we really do need Jeff Henderson there to control the movement at the back, the passing etc. So when we're missing him, we're immediately in bother before the game's kicked off.

There was a big session of fireworks going on somewhere for the first few minutes of the game and maybe that distracted Bray for the beginning because we actually didn't start too badly and threatened a little bit. But that's all it was.

Kalen Spillane has been playing ok-ish recently but it's back to the drawing board after Friday night. Maybe it's taking him a while to settle into Rovers' style of play, and that's fine.

It did take Jason McGuinness a while to adjust after all, but I'm afraid this could be different. With Spillane's height he should be winning everything in the air. That wasn't the case. I don't understand how a man of his height can lose so many headers. And he often resorted to James Collins style play - hoofing it forward. Which most certainly didn't work.

And it just added to our misery having to watch so many mis-placed passes, and just poor football all around.

At times, the lads looked like eleven players who had never played together before. They lacked cohesion, and there was very little communication. It was hard to watch. It was depressing and frustrating.

It's very rare that I have a criticism of Ian Baraclough, but I just don't understand why Seamus Conneely was brought on for John Russell when he went off injured.

There was no need for another defensive midfielder when we already had O'Conor and Cawley playing.

Djilali, Greene, Cretaro and Maguire were all on the bench and one of them could have made a bigger difference. At the end of the day, it was Bray we were playing. We need to attack someone like Bray. There was no need to be so conservative. Three defensive midfielders against Alan Mathews' Bray. I do not understand.

David Cawley was actually playing quite well and didn't deserve to be taken off. If you have a go at them, you will eventually break them down. Danny North had very little to work with in fairness. It's hard to know if playing two strikers would have worked better, you can't say, but nothing worked for us on Friday night.

I really did feel sorry for Ross Gaynor, though. We all know what he's capable of. He was a hugely important player for us in 2012 when we won the league. Injuries last year made it difficult for him but he is not a bad player.

He had a bad night, a very bad night - there's no point saying otherwise. He's mainly been a left-back for us, and playing on the left-wing on Friday didn't suit him. He heard every whisper of abuse he got in the second-half as well, which was uncomfortable. Look, Ross Gaynor at his best is crucial to Sligo Rovers.

Really, we needed two wingers playing well on Friday.

Djilali made a difference when he came on, as much of a difference as he could have made. That's about as positive as it gets. Once he's back to full fitness we have something to add.

Friday night was nothing short of a disaster.

I don't think the players needed to be told anymore about how bad a performance it was. They know. We know.

And Baraclough knows as well.

It can't get much worse. Maybe it will inspire us to go and hammer Dundalk on Saturday. I hope.

Sligo Champion

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