Craig Priest writes…
One more pre-season friendly to go and then that’s it, the dream we’ve been having for five long seasons about league two football finally becomes a reality as Paul Cox’s men head for Scunthorpe United.
First though as mentioned they’ve one more friendly match to complete, tomorrow night’s trip to Gainsborough Trinity – Will Cox field what he sees to be his line up for Saturday or will it be one last chance to impress and earn a starting birth, after Saturday’s embarrassment at Boston, I’ve got a feeling it will be a mixture of the two.
Annoyingly, I feel that Cox still doesn’t know what his side will be, or if he does any he’d opting for certain partnerships that have been played together during pre-season, for me they don’t work. I’m talking mainly about McCombe and Demspter, both are excellent defenders but together the pairing lacks pace and the flair of the previous Dempster-Jones pairing. A better option, which hasn’t been tried at great length so far, would for me be Dempster alongside Tafazolli, the youngster has the pace and flair of Jones and has impressed throughout pre-season.
In the centre of the park, as a unit the players haven’t closed things down and pressed opposition – is this because Murray and McGuire are too likeminded players, like Howell and Murtagh or is Cox wanting to play with a little more freedom in the middle, aiming to counter the opposition.
Upfront it’s obvious we lack and out and out front man, I’ve said that Jake Speight and Ben Hutchinson can fill the void and I’ll stick by that, for some reason though they don’t get game time. Sam Clucas has looked dangerous through the middle, but can he play off Rhead & Dyer or with Stevenson off his shoulder? The options we’ve got haven’t been tried too often and I don’t know if it’s because we’ve trialled players in the striker slot etc or if We’ve been away from league two for such a long time, I’m so desperate for us not to fall flat on our backsides!
One thing I think you can pretty much bank on is a trialist being on show, I’d like to have another look at Brent McGrath, Jordan Ball and Amari Morgan-Smith up front, Calvin Andrew out wide and Eddy Gnahore in the centre of the park, the Frenchman had that bite and determination I believe we’ve lacked during pre-season.
The thing is, with a game to go before the season starts, should you really be playing trialists? Personally I think not, however in our current situation I don’t think Cox has much choice, in my mind we’re lacking in a few area’s and, if we are to sustain ourselves well in league two, need to add strength sooner rather than later.
Gainsborough will prove a tough test, they’re a strong attacking side who finished just outside the play-offs after being the loosing finalists the previous season. It’s a decent pitch at the Northolme too and perhaps the perfect game to iron out all the creases. What do I want to see in reality? A solid performance where the players pressure the opposition, players stepping up to pull the strings and create something… a win would be nice too! I just want to go into Saturday’s match with a little more faith, as the last few games have left me worried as to what we’re aiming to be this coming season.
Reading back through all this, it seems a bit rant-like doesn’t it! You can tell the seasons kick-off is just days away now, the anguish of being away from league football runs deep and none of us want to be there again. It’s getting close now!
For the final time, you can join me on StagsPlayer for full match commentary – Tune in from the earlier time of 7.10pm to here an exclusive look back on pre-season and look ahead to the league two season. Unfortunately, our coverage will not continue into the season, it’s been an honour and a privilege to provide coverage on the past four seasons and it’s heart wrenching that it’s over – I’d like to thank you for your support and hope that you continue to visit the website for our written content over the next season.
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