Lawrence Shankland wins you leagues.
Or at least puts you top of the league at Halloween.
I was listening to the Dode Fox Podcast earlier this week and they've got a terrific extended interview with Paul Dixon on it, and there was something he spoke about that really resonated with me during the game last night. He talked about our relegation season, and how we would constantly create good chances but not take them, then the other team would go up the park and score and that would be it, another defeat. That's pretty much exactly what happened to Partick last night.
I thought we were second best for a lot of the evening last night and we didn't play well at all. The midfield was anonymous and offered us nothing at all, and that's where a lot of our problems are stemming from this season. It's an area we badly need to improve but unfortunately we have players tied down to long contracts who don't have the quality we need.
What we did produce was the one moment of real quality of the game, Appere putting in a brilliant cross and of course it was met by Shankland who guided the ball in with his head into the far corner of the net. Where would we be without the Scotland man? We are so absolutely reliant on his goals it's unreal and when you have a man like him to dig you out of a hole then it really does make such a difference to your confidence that we can still win games when playing poorly.
While Shankland got man of the match for his goal, for me it should have went to Butcher for his effort at CB. I thought he was outstanding and I'm happy to hold my hands up after criticising him earlier in the season. He's performed admirably all season and he's another crucial part of our team.
Without his presence in midfield though we were very lightweight. Harkes has had a wee run of games now and unfortunately he hasn't taken his chance in the team. I like him, I think he does have ability but he's not played to a level that he's capable of and he doesn't impose himself on the game enough for my liking. Adam King was given a start last night and he was dreadful to be frank. I want to make an excuse and say that he hasn't had a lot of football so he should get the benefit of the doubt, but he was stinking. We improved quite a bit after he was replaced by Stanton, who I agree should have been dropped after recent performances, but should come back in the team now.
As said though, the whole midfield was poor and again this isn't helped by team selection from the manager. Leaving aside the fact Pawlett went off after 30 seconds, he played McMullan, our only winger, as a striker, he played Nicky Clark, a striker, as a left winger and Appere, a striker, as a right winger. Eventually he had to change it as it wasn't working, so he put McMullan on the left, despite the fact he's a one trick pony and that's driving down the line and crossing with his right foot. He was dreadful on the left and looked disinterested, and that won't be helping his recent dip in form. I just don't get why Neilson thinks he has to be clever with his line up every week and move things around. Play your best players in their best positions ffs.
As I said, they had chances, primarily from set plays to be fair, but they had most of the possession. Not to say we didn't have chances - McMullan had to score after capitalising on a mistake and going one on one with the keeper, while Shankland hit the bar with a rasping drive - but we didn't control the game at all and that comes from our missing midfield. We need better ahead of a couple of difficult away games, in Inverness and across the road.
Three points, but maybe more questions than answers after the performance.
Mon the Terrors
DUFC 1 PTFC 0
Lawrence Shankland wins you leagues.