Roper Reports will endeavour to make sense of the recent happenings at North End and offer general comment on the world of Football.
During the season there'll be a new report each week. You can navigate the season's articles by using the 'Older' and 'Newer' buttons or by using the drop-down menu.
Back in the pack go sloppy North End
Wednesday 19th November 2014
The third consecutive league defeat on the trot saw North End slip out of the automatic promotion slot and move down to third with the pack hot on our heels. The Bradford defeat was bad enough in terms of the circumstances but it was made all the more galling by the fact that Bristol City were beaten by the, now, second placed Swindon. Had we won on Saturday we would have been going to Bristol two points behind and with a chance of going top if we pulled off a victory. Thoughts of reaching those dizzy heights will have to wait a while now as we try and get our season back on track after these three defeats. Clearly a draw down in the West Country would not be a disaster and I think the manager's first thought will be not to get beat rather than how many we are going to win the game by. I feel he may well recall John Welsh to the side and go with the 4-1-4-1 that almost got us a point a Swindon. I don't mind North End playing this formation away against the top of the league but we must be more ambitious when we get the chance as our strengths lie in attack and not defence.
Going back to last Saturday and a hugely disappointing home reverse against the Bantams. For North End to dominate the second half for long periods, get the goal back and then throw it all away with slack marking within 60 second was just too much for some to take. We hadn't been brilliant defensively all afternoon with some pointing the finger of blame at Jamie Jones for the first goal and others citing the centre halves due to the fact that McArdle got a free header. In my opinion both were to blame and to be honest we had to defend several corners in that first period that set the hearts racing of the home fans as we looked all at sea defending the corner kicks. North End simply must get some sort of defensive solidarity it we are to achieve the ultimate goal of automatic this season.
Some good news for the club off the field this week was Joe Garner winning the League One player of the year award at the North West Football Awards in Manchester on Tuesday evening. Joe doubled up a few minutes later when his world class strike against Rotherham in the play-off semi-final first leg also won the award for the goal of the season and quite rightly so in most people's opinions. We will have to be very careful where Joe Garner is concerned because the Vultures are circulating already, although North End's valuation of 2.5m may well put quite a number of clubs off. However if we aren't successful in returning back to the Championship this time we could really struggle to keep Joe on board when the transfer window opens in the Summer.