I n the first of a fortnightly column from our friends over at the Grecian Society, Nick Marsden takes a look at five things we’ve learnt from the first five games at St James Park.
Reid-Stockley partnership stagnant
In light of Ollie Watkins’ departure, the signing of youngster Jayden Stockley was surprising given the similarities of his hold up play and Ruben Reid’s target man role. Although the two were relatively effective early on in the season, notably against a struggling Morecambe side, they haven’t gelled well together and reduce City to more of a hoof-ball side. Youngster Liam Mcalinden has impressed since starting alongside Stockley and is perhaps the answer to City’s problems. His tidy finish and tireless work rate against Grimsby Town a week ago demonstrated what the striker can produce. A new terrace hero? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain, this lad must start.
The signings of Hiram Boateng and Dean Moxey both from Crystal Palace brought some premier league prestige to SJP this season, however it’s the former who’s been the more impressive.
“control and composure will be vital”
With Moxey seemingly played too high up the pitch by Tisdale and failing to adequately attack his opposing fullback, Boateng has stolen the limelight with some technically brilliant displays. A hard battler and cool presence on the ball, Boateng has grown in confidence after early periods of the season where he was unjustly left on the bench behind a lacklustre Lloyd James. Boateng’s control in the middle of the park will be crucial to City’s playoff push this season and you’d expect him to play a starring role from here on in.
Diligent and disciplined Defense
In spite of a horrendous performance in front of over 400 Grecian Soc members against a fired-up Notts County side, City’s defence have been relatively stable since the start of the season. Troy Brown is maturing into a league 1 quality centre back and rarely loses a physical battle while captain Jordan Moore-Taylor has shaken off any injury rust that might have remained with some brave showings in the last few games.
“diligent defense the foundation for city’s start”
With Troy Archibald-Henville having some displays akin to a non-league fringe player, the JMT/Brown combination has been unthreatened so far. Piece Sweeney has had a few erratic displays in the wingback position but seems more comfortable than last season while Craig Woodman has been his dependable self of last season.
Price of summer departures costly
The loss of talisman Ollie Watkins alongside the impressive David Wheeler and starlet Ethan Ampadu has heavily dented this city side. Despite a very impressive run of form early in the season, the dust has settled and city seem to lack any real star players on the field. With this year’s crop having to rely more on team work rather than individualism, the ability of “Tis” to keep a sense of togetherness within the squad is pivotal. During the loss to Crawley there was talks of a bust up between Woodman and Pym, hopefully a problem that goes away quickly for City’s sake. What’s certain is that this City side can’t rely on a Watkins esque player to dominate the game single-handedly, City’s more unassuming players like Sweeney, Taylor and Moore-Taylor are thus vital to keeping the team fluid and hard to break down.
Sparky Edwards impresses
Kyle Edwards, loaned from Premier League outfit West Brom, has been giving league 2 fullbacks a torrid time since his arrival at SJP.
“edwards provides a spark”
Usually deployed around the 60th-80th minute by Tisdale, Edwards possesses a confident touch on the ball and can often fashion something out of nothing. Though still a developing player, Edwards may find himself in the starting line-up towards the end of the season, however as of late, his role as an impact sub against jaded fullbacks has proved a clever one for the 19 year old.
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