Best part of the day is in Ken’s Café where there’s a sighting of DC and the wee man, back from self-imposed Hammers exile and being informed the Hammers play in claret and blue. Nigel’s seen the Stranglers last night and is watching Girlschool tonight (aren’t they more Middleagedmumschool these days?). Phill, Joe and Matt speculate about the washing-up arguments when Wilko Johnson flatshared with Jean-Jacques Burnel. Then it’s all downhill.
What a bizarre game. We completely dominate the first 15 minutes. Vaz Te scores in the first minute only to have what looks a good goal disallowed for a push on Chimbonda. Then Cole hits the bar with a volley and on nine minutes Tomkins' header results in a goalmouth melee and Nolan prods the ball home after a scramble in the box.
It all goes wrong after 25 minutes when the lively Vaz Te has to go off with what appears to be a hamstring strain. Baldock is forced to play wide on the left because of Allardyce’s refusal to play two up front and Collision and Lansbury aren’t contributing much in midfield. McCartney is out of position at right-back and Taylor is unable to get many crosses in at left back. We’re denied what looks like a blatant penalty just before half-time after a blatant handball in the area.
In the second half we all agree Something Better Change. It’s a terrible performance and we don’t create a chance, sitting back and inviting Doncaster to attack. Allardyce’s refrain that there are no easy games becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We have a huge wage bill compared to Doncaster and proven Premiership players. We have the strongest squad in the Championship yet no-one has the strength of character to take control of the game. Matt’s attempts to be positive last until the 70th minute when he announces we’re a bit crap.
Green has already had to make a fine save when good work by Diouf results in Coppinger equalizing on 73 minutes. Diouf should win it for Doncaster a few minutes later, but is foiled by a great save from Green. Even Tomkins is booting the ball into touch and the midfield is being bypassed. The limping Cole is clearly incapable of playing two games in four days, yet mystifyingly Big Sam refuses to bring on Maynard. Apart from Green and maybe Faye no-one plays well.
“We need to Get a Grip on ourselves, as the money’s quite good,” suggests Matt as we head to the real-ale desert of The Central for Stella in a skiff and reflect that there are No More Heroes anymore. Is our season going Down in the Sewer? Or can we Straighten Out? How many fans will Walk on By? For the first time this season we start to wonder what the dates of the play-offs are.
Allardyce and the players can’t blame the crowd for this or hide behind excuses about injuries to O’Brien, Reid and Faubert. Yes, we are unbeaten in seven games but we've drawn four at home in a row. It’s a second-half performance they should apologise for and on this form we don’t deserve to be in the top two. Reading are now level on points and can’t stop winning. Against Leeds we have to get some desire, keep the ball on the ground, get in some low crosses and demand the players take some responsibility.