Us 0 Kidderminster Harriers 0

Where some teams look exciting going forwards, we’ve become the world’s first team to look exciting going backwards. The blocks are coming in from everywhere. The tackles are flying about. We’re not conceding goals and we’re pretty bloody spectacular doing it.

We’re not programmed to receive this as entertainment. Creativity in midfield and goals are what get our juices flowing. Of this we have none. I don’t remember a single moment when the crowd rose to its feet in anticipation during yesterday’s draw with Kidderminster.

It’s difficult to anticipate a goal when there’s no pattern or tempo coming from midfield. In the past we knew once the ball had been worked out to Joey Beauchamp, Chris Allen or George Lawrence that something was likely to happen. Last year, although they all petered out as a creative force eventually, Burgess, Johnson, Brevett and Analclet (to a lesser extent), offered creativity that is simply unavailable this year.

The midfield is so chaotic. Pettefer works a like a dog trying to break things up, but Hutchinson, who is a like an eager puppy, doesn’t pick up the scraps in order to recycle the ball to the creative players.

These outlets; Trainer and Ledgister, don’t offer consistency. Ledgister looked good against Crawley, but disappeared yesterday – perhaps he’s still not fully fit. Trainer offers a trickle of goals from midfield and a half decent array of passing – but he over elaborates with the long balls and tends to fade as games progress.

Nothing sticks in midfield and as a result it’s not progressed forward. This reduces the back four to simply pumping the ball forward to Duffy and Yemi. Duffy gets a brunt of the stick – unfairly in my opinion. Service to him is dire, and he is reduced to winning scrappy flick-ons –with nobody from midfield joining the attacks, there’s nobody to pick up the pieces.

Yemi, who should be able to benefit from these flick-ons, is an altogether more endearing character, and avoids much of the stick. The truth is he’s been found out. He doesn’t have a particularly sharp football brain – he runs in straight lines and needs big patches of grass to exploit his blistering pace. If the centre backs can remain reasonably compact, he drifts wider and wider to the lush grass of the flanks. That’s a long way from goal and a long way from Duffy.

There is an argument that the front two could do more to create chances in the Johnny Byrne, Tommy Moody mould. But neither is likely to become such a beast. Undoubtedly this is going to have to come from outside. In addition we need someone who can offer some shape and order in midfield, and possibly, some pace and delivery on the wing.  It’s a tall order, but with Twigglet and Gilchrist already gone, rumours that Duffy and Trainer may have alternative places to go (plus Patterson promising a possible surprise during January) there should be the money to give it a go.

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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