I had no idea going into this game that ourselves and Luton Town were 23rd and 24th in the average possession standings in the Championship. But now I know that, and I've just finished watching that game, it sounds about right.
It was a game devoid of any real quality between two teams who are adept at going through football matches without having much of the ball. I’d like to know what the highest successful pass streak in the game was from either team because it wouldn't have been a very high number.
I have largely mixed emotions as I write this, but I'd be silly to say that it’s not a good point. I’ll never turn my nose up at a clean sheet and a point away from home in this league - it’s a good result. However, there’s still a bit of frustration. I feel the game was there for the taking, but a severe lack of quality and aggression in the final third prevented us from getting all three points.
The lineup Paul Ince chose was one an attacking one. I mean, there wasn’t much he could do different with Mamadou Loum out suspended and Tom McIntyre not recovering from his migraine. But it was a team that excited me and suggested that we were going to Kenilworth Road to try and win.
The game started as it meant to go on. It was scrappy, disjointed and sloppy from both teams. The fact that there was about 42 throw-ins in the first 10 minutes proves that point.
It was a game of very few clear-cut chances in general, but both teams managed to conjure up one a piece in the first 45. Harry Cornick should’ve done better in a dangerous position for the hosts, before Tom Ince found Yakou Meite who didn't get hold of his shot properly.
That one moment set the tone for the night in all honesty - getting ourselves in positions of promise, but then the final pass, touch or effort on goal letting us down.
The same can be said for the hosts of course. We weren’t the only team out there failing to deliver in the final third, but I don’t really care about Luton. If we’d have shown a bit of composure and decisiveness when it was needed most, we’d have walked away with all three points, and that’s the part that rankles a little bit.
It was the same in the second half too. Andy Carroll should’ve done better with a header from a Tom Ince cross and we got ourselves into great positions out wide only to waste the delivery.
Our night attacking-wise was summed up in the dying minutes as Hoilett had a great chance to deliver into the box only to spoon it into Row Z (which, to be fair to Junior, isn’t really that high up at Kenilworth Road).
We seemed to show a bit of vigour and aggression towards the end of the game - Tom Ince had a vicious strike parried by the keeper before Tyrese Fornah saw a shot deflected a whisker past the post. It wasn’t for the want of trying, but that match-winning moment just never looked like it was going to come.
Looking at the positives, we defended brilliantly again. Luton have a dynamic, quick forward line and Elijah Adebayo is a handful for most centre backs in this league. But the back three of Yids, Holmes and Mbengue did their job soundly and despite the aforementioned Cornick chance and an opportunity for Potts in the second half - I was never really worried that we were going to concede.
And look, as I said earlier, it’s a point and a clean sheet away from home. Reading last season wouldn’t have won that game. Reading of last year didn’t win that game. In years gone by, these are the kind of games that we’ve lost 1-0 or 2-1 and those are the ones that end up hurting the most usually.
Of course, as fans we want to win every game, and yes there is frustration at the fact that I feel the game was there for us to win. But we’re not in a position to be too annoyed at a result like that.
We’re one point closer to that destined 45-point mark, we gained our sixth clean sheet of the season (one more than we did in the entirety of last campaign) and we got in promising positions all evening - which is better than not getting into those positions at all.
For me, I’m a tad frustrated, but the positives of tonight outweigh the negatives. Just about.
It gives us a good platform going into to our final home game before the World Cup to go and get a result. Our third game in six days (for the second time in a matter of weeks) will be another tough one for the players - but hopefully we can get a few more players back into the squad and get a +3.