Port Vale missed five (FIVE!!!) penalties against us in Tuesday’s JPT shoot out … and still went through. I’m sorry to say that is inadequacy bordering on incompetence, writes Saddlers blogger Mark Jones.
The fact that we threw away a two goal lead – again – and then failed to reassert ourselves against our lower league opponents when we had half an hour to do so did nothing to improve my mood as I stormed out of the ground after yet another penalty failure. For paying customers it was anything but entertaining.
OK Vale looked half-decent going forward but they were always vulnerable to us playing through them. Unfortunately we seemed to lack the composure to put them under pressure for any sustained period of time and it appeared as if we were the ones settling for penalties.
Which would be fine if we’d practised them to death and were super confident of putting them away (the first four would’ve been enough) but the decision making of half our team was atrocious.
Their keeper was making his debut, I doubt he’d have had the nerve to stand up to a well-drilled shot straight down the middle and high into the roof of the net. Flo is technically good enough to do this, but he didn’t. He missed.
Three times Vale fluffed chances to dump us out, thereby handing us back the psychological advantage, only for both Taundry and Brandy to blow it - at least hit the target boys.
And I might be going a bit over the top here but is there any actual technical reason why a keeper should be let off the hook for missing a penalty? Kicking, specifically kicking from a dead ball, are part of a goalie’s game, they know the psychology involved and Darlow’s adrenaline should’ve been through the roof. Their keeper netted, is it too much to expect ours to do the same?
My anger was hardly supressed by hearing the manager’s post-match reaction either. We lost Dean! Port Vale go through to the next round not us. And to say that the players hadn’t practised penalties ‘this week’ is frankly insulting. The competition is 90 minutes then straight to penalties ffs, supposedly we were trying to win the thing, hence the publicity photos with the trophy and the platitudes about Wembley.
I’ve never bought into this not practising penalties nonsense. Of course you can’t replicate the pressure of a shoot-out on the training ground, but you can’t replicate certain pressure free kicks or corners either, yet they still need rehearsing. In fact if you take that argument to its logical conclusion you wouldn’t practice at all.
Maybe next time (and the FA Cup’s just around the corner) the club can let me know in advance whether the players have actually prepared for every eventuality and I can decide whether to part with my hard-earned cash that week.
For the record, Tuesday was our 25th exit from this Trophy. 25 attempts, 19 as a third tier club, and we have two Area Finals to show from it, which is nothing short of pathetic. On eight occasions in total we’ve gone out to bottom division opposition, four of them in the last five years – all at home. I refer you to my previous comment.
Three straight home defeats, all of them avoidable, for me have already taken the gloss off any promise this season was beginning to show. I should be looking forward to Sunday, but all I can think of is what if we don’t come back down the A5 with anything.
If ever we were owed a performance, it is in the next game. Don’t let us down again.