The Lower League Week – Posh Peterborough slaughter the Royals
Wolves Packed with Talent
Wolves’ strong start to the season continued on Friday night against Crawley. Having the depth to leave last year’s SPL second top scorer Leigh Griffiths on the bench, they began with Kevin Doyle and Bjorn Sigurdarson up front, and took the lead through Sigurdarson.
It was an impressive but inconsistent display, with some really good passing and some excellent crosses in particular. But they didn’t take advantage of their opportunities, and Crawley broke through the Wolves’ defence a few times themselves.
Crawley’s stoppage time equaliser would have given Crawley a deserved point, where it not for a slightly debatable penalty, which Griffiths tucked away. It was a good display from Wolves, with some glimpses of the quality few players in League One are capable of, but they’ll need to be more consistent to keep up their position near the top.
Carlisle Go a Whole Week Without Losing by Four
It’s been a particularly awful start to the season for Carlisle. Despite edging out Blackburn in the League Cup, they lost each of their first three league games by four goals, making their Friday game at Colchester, who had two wins against promoted sides and a draw against Sheffield United, a crucial one.
In each of their first three league matches Carlisle have started badly, going behind inside 25 minutes every time and being 3-0 down at half-time two times out of three. But on Friday, it was the other way round. Brad Potts battled his way through some half-arsed Colchester defending to give Matty Robson the chance to strike from the corner of the box, powering the ball into the far corner. Colchester came back, equalising when a couple of clever passes gave Freddie Sears the chance to slot home and end the game with a draw.
Speaking on the WAGU Podcast, Jon Colman of Cumbrian Newspapers made the point that defence was Carlisle’s biggest problem last year – their 77 goals conceded was the worst in the division. Last year, they conceded four in league matches against Notts County, Bournemouth, Swindon and Leyton Orient twice.
But rather than making the defence the priority to strengthen over the summer, captures of forwards Lewis Guy, David Amoo and Adam Campbell show more resources seem to have been ploughed into the forward line. The release of experienced defenders Peter Murphy and Frankie Simek meaning that, at least before this week’s signing of Danny Butterfield, Carlisle’s defensive options were probably weaker than last year.
A 5-2 midweek defeat to Leicester wasn’t ideal, particularly given that defence has been the Cumbrians’ long-standing problem. But given that Leicester are probably the strongest team Carlisle have played and it was the smallest of their four defeats in six, it was at least a small step in the right direction.
Didn’t He Do Wells
In Bradford’s weekend victory over Sheffield United, Nahki Wells scored in his eighth scuccessive game, the first Bradford player to do so. In that time he’s scored two braces, including three of his side’s five goals in the playoff semi-final. The achievement is slightly less impressive in that Wells had a three month break in the middle to recharge his batteries, rather than having fatigue set in over the course of the run of games, but it’s certainly nothing to be sniffed at.
Goals Galore for Coventry
Possibly the worst cliché in football is that ‘you couldn’t write this kind of drama’ – which a commentator will come out with after a late goal – exactly the kind of obvious twist you’d expect from a hack writer trying to be vaguely surprising.
Going up one level on the excitement scale, there’s games like Newcastle’s now legendary 4-3 defeat to Liverpool, and Everton’s 4-4 draw with Manchester United a few years back – the type of surprising match that come along once in a blue moon.
Then there’s Coventry’s start to the season – the amount of goals both for and against being insanely high.
After starting the season with 3-2 defeats to Crawley and Leyton Orient in the league and cup respectively, they beat Bristol City 5-4 in their first ‘home’ match at Northampton, won 4-0 at Carlisle, and at the weekend drew 4-4 at ‘home’ to Preston, who have one of the division’s better strike forces.
Though Leon Clarke is the bigger name, Callum Wilson ran the show at the weekend. The 21-year-old ran 40 yards and still managed to be composed enough to pick out Clarke for the first goal, then scored twice himself. The goals saw him outpace a defender with a yard or two’s head start, and play a tight pass into the centre and remain sharp enough to immediately look for the next phase of play – both goals that were very impressive in their way.
His five goals makes him the joint top scorer in League One, alongside Bradford’s Wells.
Given Wilson’s influence on their strong start and the fact that the Sky Blues started the season with two young centre halves before adding Andy Webster, it’s a further boost that this week their Academy achieved Category Two status.
By Academy Manager Greg Rioch’s count, youth products under the age of 21 made 141 appearances last season, a figure that would be impressive for just about every club in the country.
As a result of starting the season on -10 points, Coventry, League One’s top scorers, are currently bottom of the league. Unfortunately, troubles off the field look set to define the Coventry City experience for the next few years, but on the field the Sky Blues are providing the type of mad excitement that football is at its absolute best.