A thoroughly enjoyable game. As my first look at this team, I came away very impressed. Our league position is false. I was expecting a tough game from Livvy, but not in the way they planned it. That is to say, I expected a good test from the 3rd placed team in terms of football, but all we got from them was physical challenges, fouls, obstruction and blocks. They didn't offer any convincing goal threats, and were set up to park the bus and try to pick up some breaks. For the first twenty minutes we completely outclassed them, bursting forward with waves of attacks, intelligent passing and movement. Doran was at the heart of many of those, and was very unlucky not to make it two with a lovely chip over the keeper which came off the bar. With the dominance we had it was a shame we couldn't get the second we merited. Oakley deserved his place, but was constantly harried and obstructed in a very frustrating way, which was clearly part of their game plan, and so found it very difficult.
The turning point was obviously the sending off, and it was the first utterly needless yellow which led to it. The second was hard to tell with the stramash in the box, but the Livvy defender went down like he had been poleaxed, so another bit of cunning play from them. But even though we expected a second half blitz, they couldn't even manage that, and in fact we had the better chances to make it two, some neat interplay again, a fizzing header cleared off the line. Their goal was always on the cards with an extra man, but the altercation which led to the free kick from which they scored looked like an absurd piece of amateur dramatics. So, even though they spurned a great chance at the death, they were fortunate to get a point, such was the lack of ideas they had, and we very nearly got three points with ten men once again.
The highlight was seeing our new boy, Austin, who was fantastic as soon as he came on. Wanting the ball all the time, when he got it, he wriggled through two or three defenders more than once, and curled a lovely shot saved by the keeper. If he can keep this up, he and Doran will score goals, absolutely no doubt. Very exciting to see we might have a real prospect on our hands.
Overall there was no doubt whatsoever who was the better team. As I said to my mates, this was the best football I have seen us play in a long time, and in particular is a long way better than anything Foran ever served up. Instead of that disjointed, jumbled mess, we had a team who passed the ball creatively and intelligently, ran into spaces, were compact, organised and positionally sound. We can take loads of positives from today, not least as good as two new players, Doran and Austin, who will have lots to contribute this half of the season. There is no reason we can't be in the playoffs, and although I wasn't expecting anything from St Mirren on Saturday, we can go there and give them a real game on this evidence.
The only fly in the ointment was Neil McCann being at the game, who was clearly there not for a day off, but to run the rule on any players he can poach off us. So get lost, Neil.
We are on the way back. But best of all, playing the kind of football we have always played at our best. Well done, Robbo.