It’s difficult knowing what’s more galling about a defeat at home to a vastly superior Walsall side at Molineux.
1. The fact it’s been on the cards for the last two home games
2. It owes much to unfathomable tinkering with a winning team
3. It featured an infuriating inability to keep hold of the football
For those fans trumpeting the importance of results over performances, perhaps this one will serve as one big wake-up call, because a woeful inability to retain possession like this simply isn’t sustainable.
After Swindon served up their sobering masterclass on Saturday – not to mention the Crawley Town Friday fright a fortnight before – lessons should have been learned.
Instead, our only goal threat is inexplicably dropped, our lynchpin midfielder is prematurely substituted and the Stearman / Batth partnership that had looked so assured was again consigned to the dustbin for reasons unknown.
The net result is awkward on the eye, as we yet again squander possession to a team that clearly values it way more.
But should we all be panicking?
One of the most pathetic, hapless squads in the last 30 years has been shorn of 20 players to date, to be replaced by just three in Ricketts, McDonald and Golbourne.
With kids notoriously taking time to bed down, results like this against a side without a pot to piddle in should not be entirely surprising, however unpalatable it feels to admit it.
Walsall’s dextrous young outfit were quicker in thought and touch than our entire team and it makes you wonder what will become of the Ginger Mourinho’s men come the end of the season if we’re supposed to be the promotion challengers?
Our previously resolute defence under Stearman’s stewardship looks decidedly ropey these days, while the erratic Sako is stinking the place out like a sack of excrement.
The chasm between midfield and attack is huge and even at 0-1, there was no guile, flair or apparent inclination to grasp the game by the scruff of the neck.
With no meaningful incomings during the transfer window to supplement this wafer thin squad, things are what they are.
But with the same Port Vale starting line-up still available to our manager, they shouldn’t be what they were tonight.