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GoalWatch vs Colchester

Posted by Bergen Blade on September 16, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

1st goal:


Harriott finds Sordell in a central position 30 yards out. Edgar and Collins can't decide who's going to close him down (1st defender) and who's going to drop back (2nd defender). This means neither gets close enough to challenge him and neither drops deeper. Which means that

  • Sordell can turn and pick a clever pass
  • there's space behind our defence to run into


Sordell plays Moncur through and he scores.





What we should have done:


Collins and Edgar must establish who's going to be first and second defender.


As Collins is originally closest to Sordell as he receives the ball I think he should have got closer to him, while Edgar dropped back. Collins could have prevented Sordell to turn, and if that failed, Edgar could have swept up the through ball. TWO ways of rescuing the situation, even before discussing if Basham or Baxter should have tracked the runner.




2nd goal:


McEveley takes a throw in not far from the corner flag. Garvan picks up the dropping ball, plays a 1-2 with Sordell. He then plays Moncur through. Moncur beats Howard again.


It is not offside. McEveley hasn't had time to catch up with the rest of the players, as shown here:




There are a few things that goes wrong for us:


  • Woolford doesn't win the original flick
  • Garvan loses Basham with the clever headed 1-2
  • Collins can't win the ball from Sordell

Then this becomes the situation:





Again the man on the ball is poorly closed down. He can pick his pass. It is vital that we do not leave space behind our defence. But what happens?



Edgar also breaks out of the defensive line to close down Garvan. This means there are nobody to sweep up the through ball.


What we should have done:


Edgar, knowing that McEveley is preventing an offside, and having seen Collins already breaking out to challenge Sordell, should have remained in his deep position, or dropped a bit deeper. This could have enabled him to intercept the pass, or challenge Moncur.




3rd goal:


Colchester's move start with a throw in in their own half. At this stage we are going for the win and leave more players forward.



There are a few random things happening, but it ends with Sordell running on the ball. We only have two players back, Collins and McEveley. Sordell decides to shoot from long range and it takes a lucky deflection which beats Howard.


What we should have done:


To avoid conceding we should have got more players back. But, as said, at that stage we were going for the win.


Full highlights:

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GoalWatch vs Chesterfield

Posted by Bergen Blade on October 5, 2014 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)


I thought our defending vs Chesterfield was so poor it warranted a one off return of GW.

1-0: Chesterfield astonishingly make 14 consequtive passes before they score. In general we look sloppy and lethargic, lacking aggression and intensity in our defensive work. Several players deserves a share of the bame here. 

In the end, two of our players are too focused on "their men", and this makes them unable to block the shot.

  • Flynn, our left midfielder at the time, has taken up a left back position, rather than pushing in central to help our midfield who've been drifting right. He should have been a lot closer to Scougall, and anticipated the chance of a shot. Flynn is usually very responsible defensively, but this is poor.
  • Collins is also too late in leaving his man (Chesterfield's only player central in our box) and rushing out to block the shot.


2-0: McCarthy messes up. He had plenty of time and a few options, but takes too long on the ball. 

When that happens, his partner Collins is miles away and can't rescue him. Maybe a bit harsh, but you can't afford to take a breather out of position in today's football. Obviously, McCarthy is mostly to blame here, but when errors happen, organisation and focus can help get you out of jail. Roberts isn't very quick, but is allowed to run through unchallenged and score.




3-0: I take it we are playing 4-4-1 at this stage, and Murphy is our left midfielder. Our central midfielders, Scougall and Doyle have been pulled over to the right, without getting close enough to make an interception. The ball is played up to a completely unchallenged Ryan, who can turn and pick a forward pass out wide. 

Murphy should have dropped further back and pulled in more centrally, rather than watching the right back. 


If Murphy had done that, he could have prevented Ryan from turning (or maybe even getting the ball). Ryan would probably have played the ball backwards and we would have regained our balance. But instead, we're in trouble:


A bit later, as the cross eventually comes in, our defenders panic and rush out to block Johnson who shoots. McCarthy is one of them and that means the man he was marking, Eoin Doyle can knock in the deflected effort completely unchallenged. "Schoolboy defending" is a good description:




One common denominator for all the goals were distance between our players. Our wide players need to realise they are required to tuck in when the rest of the midfield have pushed over, not just watch the opposition full back on their side. If we'd been better organised and a bit smarter we could have prevented those goals before they became chances.


Full highlights:



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GoalWatch vs Bournemouth

Posted by Bergen Blade on September 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The Blades have just scored five times in a very entertaining game, and yet what's the topic of this blog - our defending!


Bear with me, the ongoing theme for this blog is "how can we improve?" I don't want to focus on the negative stuff for the sake of it, I just want us to get better. Centre half was and is my position, and so I know a bit more about defending than attacking.


I trust though that our defending will improve shortly (it was decent overall last season) and therefore there won't be many GoalWatch blogs this year either - hopefully!


Conceding three at home is something Danny Wilson won't be happy about either, so let's have a quick look at what happened.


0-1: A low corner is half cleared but goes back out to the taker who has time and space to pick out Elphic in front of goal. He beats Doyle in the air and nods home.


It’s normal to man mark at set pieces, while zonal mark in open play. Sometimes there’s confusion when a set piece is half cleared and the defending team has to decide whether to switch to zonal or stick to the players they were originally marking.


Ideally you want your tall centre halves in front of the goalkeeper when the crosses come in. But Collins is pulled out of that area by the man he marked, and the cross goes over Maguire. It is Doyle who is left to mark the much taller Elphic and he has no chance.




3-2: A corner is nodded in unchallenged by Lee Barnard at the back post. Collins was (probably) marking him, but met the ball too early. Howard seemed to complain he was blocked on the line.



4-3: Their left winger cuts inside. He plays it up to a meeting Barnard who passes it back to the unmarked Pugh. He shoots low and into the net from 25 yards.


Three of the midfield four are behind the ball in a decent position. Flynn should have been in line with them (see photo). Instead, he has taken up a position to the left of Hill, where he’s keeping an eye on the opposition right back. When he can’t be in two positions at the same time he’s got to chose the one where the danger is most immediate.



Chances? What chances?

Posted by Bergen Blade on September 25, 2011 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Just watched the Wycombe highlights and thought I'd have a look at our attacking this time. Now, I know that these highlights often show only a selection of the chances created in a match, and this analysis is ONLY about the chances shown on BladesPlayer.

After the game a lot of fans have bemoaned a lack of luck, as well as poor finishing. Danny Wilson was also very positive about our performance. But were our chances that big? My fear is that our neat and pretty football is carried out with a lack of urgency, tempo and quick forwards. I think this is a receipe for ineffective football which may look good, but that may see us struggle to break down teams.


1 Evans first hits a tame free kick, but the ball comes back to him 25 yards out. It's a cracking strike and he hits the bar, but at the time of shooting, this is by no means a 100% chance. It's probably not even that, but let's be nice and call it a 50% chance.

2 Through neat passing we work the ball into the box and Lowton gives it to Evans who shoots first time. The goalkeeper is there to block him though, and Wycombe have three defenders who could also have blocked the shot. Another 50% chance.

3 Continuing from (2), the ball falls to Doyle (?) on the 18 yard line. He volleys it high and wide. Some of these flies in, but there are 10 players in front of Doyle who also has to volley it, ie it would have taken a lot of skill to get it down, as well as some luck to avoid all the players in front of him. Another 50% chance.

4 A superb through ball finds Evans in some space, but his first touch isn't good and he has to use his weaker left foot to shoot, plus he is off balance. At the time of shooting a defender has got back between him and the goal and the goalie is also waiting. I'll be a bit harsh this time and put this in the 50% chance bracket as well.


A Did we create more and bigger chances than the ones shown on Blades Player?

B Does nice and neat build up make chances appear more dangerous than they actually are?

C Does our lack of pace and urgency mean the opposition often have defenders still positioned between our finisher and their goal at the time of shooting?


Furthermore, let's also take a look at Wycombe's chances.

The photos below show three of their four BladesPlayer chances at the time of their players finishing. Unlike our chances, they have got free of our defenders and have only the goalkeeper to beat. They have managed to make our defenders face our own goal, and that's when goals tend to be scored. These are all 100% chances.




GoalWatch vs Tranmere

Posted by Bergen Blade on August 22, 2011 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)

As a player, my position was (and is) centre half. Maybe that's why I've often enjoyed analysing Sheffield United's defending, and I've thought I'd have a go every now and then in this blog as well.


In last weekend's 1-1 draw at Tranmere we were generally praised for our defending, after Tranmere put us under some pressure in the second half. In the end they got the equaliser though, so let's have a look at how it came about.

First, let's remind ourselves some basic expressions:

  • The First Defender is the person nearest the attacking ball carrier. The initial job of the first defender is not to steal the ball, but to delay the opponent until his teammates arrive to help.
  • The Second Defender is the second person to arrive at the scene. The job of the second defender is to provide cover for the first defender. That is to cover up any mistake that the first defender might make.
  • When the second defender arrives on the scene, the job of the first defender changes from delay to pressure.
  • The job of the Third Defender is to provide balance.


The goal: Tranmere get a corner from their left hand side. They take it short to their left back Buchanan on the edge of the box. He beats a Blades player and whips in a cross. It is met perfectly by Labadie, whose powerful header beats Simonsen.


I think it is Chris Porter who closes down the man on the ball following the short corner. When you have a tall, slowish striker closing down a nippy wide player, you shouldn't trust him to stop him. Porter definitely needed cover behind him.


Disappointingly, like against Walsall our 2nd defender (Monty in this instance) should have been closer to the 1st defender (Porter) to cover behind him (see red line in photo below). It may not have helped, but it would have given him a better chance of blocking the cross.

The cross is pinpoint, and the pace of the ball AND Labadie's run makes it hard to prevent the goal for our men in the box. One can question our marking in the box, but with a correctly positioned 2nd defender, the cross may have been stopped before.


To show how it should be done, we can have a look at Tranmere's defending earlier in the game. The photo below shows Tranmere having the 2nd defender in the right position (red circle). Slew beats the 1st defender, but is then forced to pass it sideways.


Ironically we still score, thanks to Monty's screamer! :D