The veritable ‘game of two halves’. We were utter sh*te in the 1st half; much better in a second-half, we actually dominated.
The reason for the improvement wasn’t entirely obvious – at least to Screach & me in the pub. We certainly defended better in the 2nd half – but that wasn’t too difficult, given how dreadful we had been in the 1st. We also created a lot more going forward, and but for a good reaction save by Taylor to deny Owen – who perhaps should have scored – we could have taken all three points.
The only things we noticed different in the 2nd half were that Geremi stayed on the right more, and Butt restricted his forward runs to finally gave the back four a little more protection. There is also the possibility that there may have been a conscious switch to 4-3-3 at half time, with Martins playing closer to Viduka and Owen, with a midfield of Geremi – Butt – Barton.
Whatever subtle changes were made they worked, although there was also a noticeable increase in the physical effort in the 2nd half.
Many of our 1st half problems stemmed from Faye being beaten time and again by McFadden, ultimately culminating in an embarrassing goal when the wee Scot far too easily turned his physically-superior marker in the penalty area, and slotted the ball past Harper.
With Steven Taylor looking a nervous wreck, Barton giving the ball away in midfield with gay abandon, and Faye having a torrid time with McFadden, our defensive work was shocking in the 1st half; much, much better in the 2nd.
Not the ideal result, but a better point for us than Brum in my opinion. It breaks a really bad run, and gives us some genuine positives to take into the weekend, where another 3 points would make a massive difference to our overall position.