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ricardo

Ricardo's report v Brighton

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Sorry if its a bit short tonight but I''ve been ill all week with a chest infection and dragged myself up to CR very much against my better judgement and Mrs R was also not best pleased.The conditions were set fair for a good open match and that is largely what we had for the full 90 minutes. Brighton won the toss and I wouldn''t be surprised if it wasn''t Hughton''s idea to turn us round from our usual format of attacking the Barclay first half. In the end it worked out fine for me as I got a birds eye view of both City''s goals.Naismith nearly got through in the 4th minute after a sweeping City move and although the visitors bundled the ball clear Howson swiftly picked up the pieces and rifled in a low cross from the right that Oliviera missed by a whisker. Brighton responded quickly with some good possession and header that cleared Ruddys bar by a couple of feet.Both teams seemed up for it and ref Tim Robinson made a rod for his back by being a bit lenient with the whistle. Alex Pritchard came under pressure from the large away contingent but answered in the best possible way in the 18th minute. Josh Murphy sprung clear down the left and rode three tackles as he cut in across the edge of the Brighton box. As the ball went loose Pritchards first time whack from 20 yards cannoned off the underside of the bar and back into the net off the diving Stockdale. In the aftermath Knockaert almost got himself sent off in a handbag job with Graham Dorrans. In the end both got yellows.City now began to look good with Pritchard and Dorrans pulling the strings they made Brighton look second best for the next quarter hour. Naismith got too much on it as he headed a free kick over while at the other end Brighton appeals for a pen were turned down as someone went tumbling. It seemed the ref was determined to let almost anything go. Ruddy made a decent reaction save on the half hour to keep out a close range header but to be honest the City defence generally seemed fairly comfortable.Naismith was everywhere tackling and winning the ball back and five minutes before the break as Brighton struggled to clear Pritchard again hit another 20 yarder that struck Stockdale''s left post and rebounded off the keepers head to double the score. It was the first time I have ever seen a scoreboard show no shots on target but a two goal lead.In the second period City remained largely in control. A low cross beat everyone in the City box on the hour and minutes later Howson had to hook off the line from a Murray header but despite some reasonable approach play Brighton seldom looked like getting back in the game. City might have added another on a couple of occasions but a sloppy final pass spoiled the opportunities. Wes and James Maddison who showed one or two excellent touches, came on for the last few minutes with City in more or less complete control.Obviously Pritchard for MOM but a very impressive display from Dorrans while Naismith worked like a Trojan winning lost causes and setting City going forward. Defensively it was as good a performance as I''ve seen all season.

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Thanks Ricardo and I hope you''re feeling better soon.
As Alex Neil said on Sky, the match statistics belied the overall dominance Norwich had - I thought it was a good performance though Brighton may have well been feeling the effects of their promotion celebrations.  The Brighton fans seemed to be enjoying themselves, what a shame we weren''t in their position.

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I thought Naismith worked hard but messed up quite a few things. At one point trying to blame Oliveira for what was quite clearly his f*ck up.

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Yeah Naismith worked hard but that work was overshadowed by some really, really sloppy passes that resulted in us conceding possession so unnecessarily. One that sticks in the mind is a backpass to Howson completely underhit who then had to smash it into the city stand as a result.

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Still frustrating to see so many simple passes going astray from Naismith and Howson. Thought Howson looked inhibited for some reason, although he did some good things too. Naismith worked hard though. Dorrans was the best of the three of them.

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Take it easy Ricardo. Feet up and watch the semi final.

I was pleased last night that some players tried something off the cuff in areas where it wouldn''t matter if it didn''t work.

Yes Naismith and Howson gave away a lot of ball but at least they were trying things and Naismith''s new found aggression pleases me.

I thought Dorrans was MOTM to be honest. His performance allowed Martin and Bennett to play football instead of "whumping" it as Alec Miller used to say on hospital radio.

I have to pay respect to Irvine for for his tactical changes and to be fair could see a role for him at the club if that is what he brings.

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Thanks Ricardo - I hope that you feel better soon!I have to admit that I have been warming to Naismith as a player. It is not only the obvious work that he has been doing defensively and the covering of gaps but also the way that he seems to provide an option when we were in possession. his distribution is a bit frustrating at times, but suspect that this may be due to "being on a different" wavelength at times.

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Thanks for the report. I''m probably well over half your age (No offense) and I don''t lift a finger while ill. let alone do things like go out of my way to write up a coherent and thoughtful match report! Superb again! (Y)

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Thanks for the best wishes, I was just congratulating myself on getting through the winter without a dose of flu when I picked up this nasty cough last week. Thankfully no home game for a while so a chance to recover.Naisy can be a bit of an enigma and his shouting and gesticulating can be annoying but he doesn''t ask of anyone what he is not prepared to do himself. Never stopped running and harrying and unlike several I could mention he never hides when things are going wrong. We would be a poorer side without him IMO.I recorded last nights game and have just watched it again. I don''t think Brighton ever really troubled us.

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Many thanks again ricardo.

I just wondered if it helped that Brighton''s attitude was to play a more entertaining, open game (pace Hughton!)?

Teams that have had most success against us generally put 11 men behind the ball & rely on our lack of real determination, & over elaboration, around the box, together with their fast breaking, more incisive, attacking players.

Also wondered if you agreed with Parma''s analysis - basically that Irvine has better defensive tactics than Neil?

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[quote user="ron obvious"]Many thanks again ricardo.

I just wondered if it helped that Brighton''s attitude was to play a more entertaining, open game (pace Hughton!)?

Teams that have had most success against us generally put 11 men behind the ball & rely on our lack of real determination, & over elaboration, around the box, together with their fast breaking, more incisive, attacking players.

Also wondered if you agreed with Parma''s analysis - basically that Irvine has better defensive tactics than Neil?[/quote]You only have to look at the goals for and against table to see where Brighton''s real strength lays. I''ve been harping on since late October about the importance of goal average in determining who is going to be in with a shout at the end of the season. Both auto positions will, as I predicted, finish up with a goal average of around two while we were never much better than 1.4 / 1.5 at best. It was obvious to me that Brighton and Newcastle would obtain the auto spots and I stated that on a thread well before Xmas.Hughton bases his teams on a strong defence while AN thought he could dispense with that aspect of the game because we were so obviously superior going forward. I thought that this was always a false analysis and events have proved it to be so. Parma had it spot on months ago, a leaky back line will let you down more often than not. Whether Irvine has corrected the problem is IMO a bit too early to say but we looked solid last night in a way that we rarely have been all season.

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We looked solid, but recorded zero shots on target, or, not to make too fine a point of it, two shots on target which brought two somewhat fortunate goals. As I saw it, that was the trade-off, and with respect, Parma''s point was not just about "a leaky back line" but a leaky defence caused in particular by midfield and forward players failing in their out-of-possession duties. As regards it showing that we have the players who can do what is required when properly briefed, I''m not convinced. Even under Neil there were games when we showed we could do it, but nobody would surely say it would ever be second nature to any of our squad who play regularly ahead of the back four apart maybe from Tettey, nor to at least one of the back four themselves, i.e. Pinto.

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