Craig Priest previews tomorrow night’s double header as sides travel to Eastwood and Stourbridge....
Many clubs split up there squad to play two games in one night, that’s the way pre-season goes, that said I can’t remember the last time the Stags did it! I guess the one question on everyone’s lips at the moment is, what game do I go to?!
I’m also struggling with finding the answer as we have no idea what so ever as to what Paul Cox has planned at the time of writing. So far in pre-season every player has had a share of the minutes of the pitch with different, yet strong, sides alternating between games. Below is a table listing who’s played where so far, although it won’t solve the mystery of who goes where, it may help us work out who we expect to be in what squad and from that you can, potentially, decided on what is seen as the “first team” and the “reserves”.
I’m not a fan of the Reserves tag at the minutes as both squads, as you can see feature players of the highest calibre, who could walk into any BSBP or League2 side. Our squad is a perfect number of 30 to be split up, with the exception of two injures to my knowledge (Jake Speight & Joel Holland) taking the numbers to 28. Add in a couple of trailists and now third year youth teamers you can pretty much take a squad of at least 16 to each game, looking at the names above and splitting them in every way possible you still have a strong side for each game.
Taking goalkeepers out of the picture for the moment I think the game Paul Cox attends (Presumably Eastwood) will feature between 5-7 of what he sees as his ‘definite starters’ with the rest made up of those he’s not sure about, the other game will be the same along with those that need minutes under their belt. The management team will be split too, I see Paul Cox and Adam Murray taking charge of one game with Andy Todd and Richard Cooper the other, the four will assess the boys and, in my opinion, use the Rainworth game as two games (45 minutes each) – with the best eleven players from BOTH Eastwood and Stourbridge taking the first half with everyone else taking the rest. What happens at Boston and then Rotherham is unknown! Weather what I’ve said will happen or not I’ve no clue, but I think it will be close, logically it’s the best way to split lads up and get four different views of the squad in action before reassessing things as a whole the following night.
Both games will prove tough tests for whoever goes where, Eastwood suffered a torrid season last term without Paul Cox and after a play-off finish in Cox’s final term, the club plummeted with numerous off field issues and we’re relegated collecting the wooden spoon having finished rock bottom, winning just four matches. John Ramshaw who now sits in the Coronation Park hot-seat after spells from Craig Armstrong, Jamie Brough and Stevie Istead, will know exactly how to turn the badgers around having been at the club during Paul Cox’s tenure.
Stourbridge achieved a solid 6th placed finish in the Southern Premier Division last term and will be a tough side to break down having lost out on a ply-off finish last term on goal difference. So far this pre-season they have kept things tight losing just one of their five pre-season fixtures, also defeating our fellow BSBP counterparts AFC Telford United 1-0 on home soil.
Whoever goes where will not have an easy night and will have to put in a shift to ensure our pre-season unbeaten record stays intact. Yes results are irrelevant in pre-season and the emphasis is always about fitness and shape, but still it’s a refreshing trait to have – being able to pick any from our squad of 30 and knowing they can go out and make the difference.
Unfortunately I can’t be in two places at once so have faced some tough decisions on where to go and what to do. As always we strive to bring you the best coverage possible and without knowing what teams going where, have had to work on a logistics basis taking into account our stretched resources.
With this is mind, I will be heading to Eastwood an anchoring the show from there, it’s THIS game which we have chosen as the main game and will be providing full match commentary on. However as ever we can’t just pick one game when there’s another going off and so have opted to send a reporter (Chris) to the Stourbridge game, he will provide us with a live update every 15 minutes along with half time/ full time analysis of the match plus goal flashes – he will also be on hand to feed me information of chances & substitutions off air so I can keep you as up to date as possible. If you are opting for the Stourbridge game and fancy helping us out with your opinions, please text your thoughts of the game to 07982 865 624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get more involved – we would love someone to write us a match report.
So in brief, tomorrow will be full commentary of the Eastwood match with regular updates of the Stourbridge game throughout the night. Build up of both matches starts live from Coronation Park at 7pm, live on Takeover Radio 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE page – There’s no need to miss a kick of the action.
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