When John Lundstram was taken off injured at Ibrox, it was easy to conclude that Glen Kamara or new signing Nicolas Raskin would replace him. Like-for-like in the midfield slot.
Once again, however, Michael Beale did exactly what no one expected, and sacrificed midfield entirely, leaving the side with just one actual midfielder as he replaced Lundstram with attacker Malik Tillman.
We have to say, formally, that on Ibrox Noise we were absolutely bewildered as to why he was replacing a defensive midfielder with an attacker, but then we remembered Beale is all about attack attack attack, and possession in the middle to final third.
When faced with a defensive midfielder going off, Beale’s solution was to go for more goals instead.
And the reality?
It didn’t work. The first goal was wonderful – a nice touch from Morelos, a stunning assist from Cantwell and a clinical finish from the sub, but the team as a whole was imbalanced from that change and only just nabbed the winner through a fortuitous deflection.
The midfield didn’t exist and was isolated from the rest of the team – Todd Cantwell was the one coming deeper to put his foot on the ball, and he did exceptionally well, but he’s a playmaker and there was no protection for the defence with him being in the middle like that.
Only Ryan Jack covered them and frankly it’s not his game anymore – he doesn’t have the legs to work that hard now, hence County not only scored but had quite a few openings to say the least. In total, 10 shots, which for a ‘diddy’ visiting team on a low block, is very high indeed.
Ultimately Beale would argue the end justifies the means – but why he reckoned it was a better idea to sacrifice a midfielder, imbalance the team and risk not taking all three points is up to him.
It’s his sword to live on and die on, and it ultimately worked out, but why Glen Kamara or Nicolas Raskin didn’t just come on to keep the team’s balance is a bit of a mystery really.