Monday, August 25, 2014

Talking points from the Premiership weekend

Marching to Marley's beat
Dean Brill and Ross Draper were two of the top performers on the day for Caley Thistle but for most the outstanding player was wide man Marley Watkins. One of the famous “Butcher Bargains,” Watkins started this season on the bench but made a superb cameo appearance against Hamilton where he was unlucky not to grab a couple of goals despite only being on the pitch for 15 minutes. An injury to James Vincent meant that, against Motherwell, Watkins started his first game of the season and he played a pivotal role as Inverness dominated the side that finished second in the league last season. But his performance against Celtic on Saturday was perhaps his finest in an ICT jersey.

From the off he tormented the Celtic defence as he ghosted up and down the right flank with able support from full-back David Raven and the two exchanged some neat one-twos. Watkins is not just pacey, he is also very tall and can challenge effectively in the air. He was also the perfect outlet for the likes of Tansey and Meekings to drop a more direct pass in behind the Celtic full backs when the chance arose. His ball control is, at times, fantastic and he exhibited this perfectly in the second half with a wonderful turn and spin on the ball, right on the touchline, to get away from his marker. Indeed the Inverness goal came from a Watkins cross from the right which just eluded Mckay before rebounding into the net off the unfortunate O’Connell. With his contract up at the end of the season many ICT supporters will hope the club will opening talks sooner rather than later with Watkins to secure his services.  AS

Aberdeen believing their own hype?
Derek McInnes criticized his own players as being "indulgent" against St. Johnstone.  The Dons never got out of first gear, and looked unprepared for a bit of a scrap.  They could have been punished for a number of defensive mistakes earlier in the game, and couldn't raise their game after Steven Maclean's strike.  I wonder as well if whether having ten days off blunted their match sharpness.  McInnes doesn't tolerate that sort of attitude; I imagine that his players won't make that mistake again in a hurry. LS

Panic in Paisley
Only a fool would make hard and fast predictions in August, but things do not look good for St Mirren. Bottom of the league without any goals going into the weekend, a home game against newly promoted Dundee could have been the perfect chance to kickstart their season. Instead they’re still looking for a point or a goal, and that’s worrying form given a less than arduous fixture list.

They created plenty of chances to win against Dundee, but Tommy Craig doesn’t have the kind of managerial track record that inspires confidence (in fact, he hardly has a managerial track record at all). While this was a good win for a decent Dundee team, it looks like it’s going to be a long, hard season for the Buddies, especially if they can't add some more quality in the final week of the transfer window. IM

Erskine has his mojo back
The star of Partick Thistle's 2012-13 promotion campaign, Chris Erskine was rotten last season.  A player heavily dependent on confidence, he struggled to bounce back after being booed by Dundee United fans in his first couple of games, and then was hit by injury as well.  I saw him play for United in Dingwall in January where he was abysmal, and a loan move back to Firhill didn't lead to an upturn in form.  But the tricky attacker looks revitalized this season, and his cracking finish on Saturday was his second goal as a super sub this season.  Not only has Erskine saved his Tannadice career, but he's also given his manager a bit of a selection headache. LS

Reguero the scapegoat?
Derek Adams' claims that Ross County had been robbed were somewhat crazy, given that Dundee United should have been out of sight long before Jake Jervis' equalizer.  But yes, Yoann Arquin and Jervis both spurned wonderful changes to put the Staggies in front.  However, their defence remains so honking that they might as well give opponents a two goal head start.  Most of the slagging will be for keeper Antonio Reguero, whose feeble attempt at a punch gifted Chris Erskine the winner.  Given that the Spaniard was culpable for a goal last week, I wouldn't be surprised to see him dropped.  Adams does like scapegoating players for poor performances - just ask Melvin De Leeuw.  But the first goal was a disaster for his most reliable defender, Scott Boyd, who was all over the place when he was supposed to be marking Nadir Ciftci.  Back to the training ground for the back four this week... LS

Moron of the week
I feel like this should become a regular feature.  After Scott Fox last week, we have Fraser Kerr's Kung Fu kick on Jamie Hamill.  Yes, we've all wanted to disembowel Hamill with a football boot for some time, but unfortunately the rules don't allow for that.  Kerr had already had a poor game, unable to match the strength of Josh Magennis, and he gave Robbie Muirhead far too much space for the opening goal.  Motherwell are already so short on numbers that Stuart Carswell became their fourth different left-back of the season so far.  With the suspended Kerr added to the absentee list, 'Well fans should probably bring along their boots to next weekend's game, just in case they're called upon. LS

Reffing useless
Willie Collum has been trusted with Champions League Quarter Finals; I wouldn't even risk letting that prat handle a pair of scissors.  The amount of retrospective action required from the SFA after matches he has officiated (last week's Edinburgh derby was the latest Collum fiasco) should surely tell them that he hasn't a clue.  Certainly he should have been given a weekend on the naughty step, but instead he was inflicted on Rugby Park, where he inexplicably missed Manuel Pascali's professional foul on John Sutton and denied Motherwell a penalty after Chris Chantler committed the most blatant handball I'll see all year.  What will it take for this man to be punted?

A wee caveat though - if I'm going to slag off one ref, I should praise another.  Bobby Madden's handling of ICT-Celtic was superb.  He let the game flow, and managed to avoid even a single yellow card.  And I think he was probably right not to give Ryan Christie a penalty.  Chapeau. LS

Andrew Sutherland (AS) occasionally writes for When Saturday Comes.  He would never miss an ICT match unless he was offered a date with the lead singer of CHVRCHES...who he would then take to said ICT match.  

Iain Meredith (IM) is technically a Rangers fan, but these days he tends to support them ironically.  He only agreed to help with this blog because now he can tell his wife that he's "only watching the game to help a friend out".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Was Reguero's blunder worse than Zaluska's? My wife is sick of me harping on about weak keeper clearances being Keeping 101 ...