Settling in for Christmas (aka humbug to Southend)

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

To get sent off once for taking a swing at an opponent in front of the ref may be classed as an accident. To do it twice looks like carelessness. To do it when your team is 1-0 up and holding onto their first win in four games in all competitions by the skin of their teeth is plain idiocy.

Step forward, Barry Corr. Well done that man, now fine him and send him to the reserves.

It's a shame, as Corr's red card kind of overshadows a scrappy but oh-so-vital win over Southend. It's also a shame as Bazza was having a decent game up until that point, and has been givings hints of why Swindon fans rated him so highly. And then he goes and ruins it all by doing something stupid like aiming a couple of kicks at an opponent under the nose of the ref.

Fortunately, Southend had an even bigger idiot in Jabo Ibehre, who needlessly shoved over Richard Duffy and joined Barry in the changing rooms. Ok, Duffy made the most of it, but if you raise your hands and push an opponent over, you're at risk of a red. If I were Steve Tilson, I'd have been fuming at him.

And Ibehre's sending off allowed us to stabilise, calm down and see out a nervy victory, and a much needed one as well. Sometimes you need a below-par performing that requires the players to dig deep to set them on their way again, and the Sarfend victory could well be that game.

It was still confusing at times though. City were playing some lovely football in the first half and Troy's raking pass for Stanno's sublime finish was probably one of the best goals you'll see at the Park this season.

Harley and Goldborne were buzzing around the penalty area, Corr was linking up well, the defence looked ok, other than a few times where Tully was isolated on the right, allowing a couple of free headers for Southend (which they really should have done better with), but generally City looked good.

Then in the second half, it so very nearly fell to pieces. Sarfend had clearly had a rocket up their collective arses at half time and came out all guns blazing, while City were clearly still enjoying the taste of their half-time cuppa. Serious backs to the wall stuff.

Suddenly passes went loose, Harley tried to take one touch too many, our wingbacks were getting exposed and the three across the back plan looked shaky. And then Bazza got sent off.

How Southend didn't find an equaliser is beyond me, but either through last-ditch defending or poor finishing we survived, and grew. Big Rob had an excellent cameo and a cool head when he replaced a rather skittish Troy, Goldborne was excellent repelling attack after attack on the left, Jonah had a great return to the side in goal, and Stanno ran his heart and everything else out up front.

We'll forgive him a couple of misses at the end - the mere fact his legs were working was enough.

So, that arrests a slide of four losses, and three games where we haven't scored, and there's much to suggest we've turned a corner and have a spot of belief back.

Southampton will be an interesting one. I won't say we can afford to lose, but we said last week that six points from nine over Christmas would be a good return and we're halfway from that. Anything at the Saints will be a bonus.

Perhaps we'll get a bit of rotation as well. Certainly Corr's suspension and Alex Russell's injury will free up another couple of spots in the team. James Dunne's most likely to replace Russell, while we may even see Logie or, shock, Ben Watson make an appearance.

As for Corr, he's got the ability and was starting to come good, which is what was so frustrating. After several bad injuries, Bazza clearly needed a long run out games, and now he's disrupted this and he'll need a couple of games to get back into the swing of it all.

Two sendings off for petulant off-the-ball incidents is crass stupidity. If I were Tis (and Grecians should thank their lucky stars most days I'm not) Corr would be fined the maximum possible amount and sent to the reserves for a spot to reflect on what he's done.

And if he picks up a third red card this season, then show him the door. I've wanted Corr to come good this season, and at times he's looked like a very decent player. Certainly one he could add an extra dimension, and goals, to our play.

But he's also not that good that we can afford to have him out for nearly ten games because he can't keep his temper in check. At that point he crosses the line from talented but flawed to liability.

Hopefully Bazza will have realised he's doing himself and the team no favours, and I'd love nothing more for him to fire us to safety this season. If he's going to do that, first off he needs to be able to stay on the pitch.

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Happy As Larry

This is an Exeter City fan blog by Gary Andrews, covering news, views and action from the real St. James' Park.

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