The late show at Darlo!

Where have all the good men gone? I think its time McCall put out a missing persons ad in the t & a for Paul Mclaren. At the start of the season he looked like the midfield bolthold that would provide the bedrock to a sustained promotion push but again he appeared to be missing in action. He's not the only one to lose his early season form. Clark and Lee performed slightly better last night but you still feel they give their opponents too much time and space in the box.

Last night Darlo were the better side, it cant be disputed. They look a decent side and were able to pass through our midfield far too easily. With a handful of guilt edged chances falling to the sharp Billy Clark, and the industrious Hatch, they could have gone in with a comfortable lead at half time. As it was we held out thanks to some poor finishing and a wonderful save from Evans.

It was at the 45 minute mark that I thought the game was ours to win. We hadnt been playing badly, and with Daley to come off the bench it looked like the game was ours for the taking. McCall did everything right in my opinion. Thorne was having one of those nights where he was struggling to get involved and Barry was having a very effective display, which justified his decision to swap Thorne for Boulding. Could McCall have been braver and swapped Nix at half time? Maybe. The truth is though that McCall probably wanted to see if we could stabilise the game at 0 - 0 a little longer so that Daleys impact would be felt later in the game.

Nix is a player who is popular with the fans. I can't see it myself. I struggle to see what he adds to the team. He scored 9 goals last season which isnt bad but I feel this is more than cancelled out by his lack of quality contributions and the amount of time he finds touch or gives the ball away. Therefore, it was a relief to see Daley brought on with apparently enough time to turn the game in City's favour.

Colbeck had a decent game and Furman was impressive again. Furman has clearly picked up a few habits that have been stolen from the top level. He has a nice ability to thread the ball between full back and centre back with decent effect, something that saw Colbeck in behind on two occasions. Furman lost possession for the Darlo winner but only the most idiotic cretins would blame him. Every player gives the ball away a handful of times during any match its just unfortunate that when Furman lost it, it lead to Darlo's winner.

The defence was better tonight, apart from Moncur whose distribution and decision making seem baffling at times. His decision to level Burgmeier may seem appropriate in the first minute to take away the wingers appetite and to escape a booking, but the manner in which he took him out could have easily lead to a red card. The first goal was mildly reminiscent of Ronaldinho's WC 2002 free kick that eluded Seaman. As Austin connected with the ball you could see Evans edging towards the six yard line, with all his weight moving forward it looked a goal all the way. I wouldnt blame Evans though, who had a decent night. The second was arguably a Lee own goal and came as a result of a delicious ball which was bound to find joy at some stage. Until then City had coped with other similar centres with relative ease.

On the other side O'Brien had a really positive game and he looks like he could be real gem in a traditional problem area. He was willing to get beyond the anonymous Nix, and did a good job on his defensive duties. My shout for man of the match.

All in all its easy to be down on City but with Daley back in the side, I really think we can go onto beat Grimsby on Friday. Mike Newell was at the game last night and you just hope that the Mariners dont reap the benefits of the 'new manager' syndrome.

McCall's key task now is to redefine his midfield roles. With Arnison back in the team you would like to think that his style will allow Colbeck to get some more chalk on his boots rather than coming inside to feed off the scraps lumped up field by Moncur. I would also tell Furman to be a bit more progressive. I'd like to think Furman could be a ten goal a season midfielder i he gambles a bit more and gets quickly into the box as the third man. Mclaren needs to find his form again and fast, otherwise the return of Bullock cant come soon enough. As for Daley well he needs to just keep doing what he's doing, running at full backs and creating problems.

Recent form has been below par, but losing to Darlo is not a reason to panic. I think we still have enough to beat most of the teams in this division. A bit of fine tuning should see us ready for a pre christmas push back into automatic contention.

Please feel free to post comments in the message board section.....