Second Thoughts… Tamworth 5.9.09

First off, my all encompassing match report managed to leave out one minor detail, that being Tamworth’s second goal. Thanks to Anonymous (no relation by the way) for pointing that out. So, here we go…

‘Tamworth doubled their lead, slightly against the run of play, as Chris Hussey failed to cut out a cross from the right. This is a problem I have highlighted before concerning Chris, but he does have a habit of showing his man to the byline without any kind of challenge. He has to be a lot tighter in future, and I hope it proves to be a lesson learned for him, as on this occasion it proved costly. The ball found Nick Wright all alone to thump a header past Pullen from close range, as the Dons backline seemed to take a laissez faire attitude towards marking.’

Of the eight games we have played so far Jay Conroy has only featured in four of them. Now I know this is down to the injury he picked up on the eve of the season, and due to Terry’s insistence on rotating for certain games, but I doubt he will miss another four games all season if he continues to show the sort of form he has recently.

Despite Kedwell’s two goals, Conroy just shaded him to my man of the match award. In fact it was probably the most complete performance we have seen from a Dons player this season, with the possible exception of Luke Moore against Salisbury. Conroy found himself shunted around the pitch, actually looking better playing out of position at centre half as he did at right back. Plus he possesses qualities we probably haven’t seen in the AFC era from a fullback.

For example, Luke Garrard was a gifted ball playing midfielder before Terry settled him into the right back slot. Yet now he reverts to the standard non-league fullbacks image of launching hopeful balls over the top and occasionally backing up the right winger by offering an outlet behind only to then dump the ball into the box with as much care and attention as an NHS nurse (not been to hospital recently?…).

Conroy however, has the ability to put his foot on the ball and pick a pass, whether forwards, sideways or to a midfielder, rarely looking like gifting possession away or panicking and hoofing one over the top. As well as this, like Hussey on the other side, he looks not just to get up in support of attacks, but even get past his colleagues on the right and provide a creative outlet. And for an added bonus, how good is he in the air?

Looking forward to next Saturday, we have run into a centre back crisis at precisely the wrong time. Cambridge hit seven against what admittedly sounded a pretty awful Forest Green side, but facing a strike force with the scent of goals in their nostrils is not for the Conference rookie. Having said that I would have no problem with Jay playing centre half on Saturday if required. He can do the job, of that I have no doubt.

Undoubtedly he would have played in that position had we been playing Wrexham tomorrow, but who would have played at right back? Sam Hatton has proved to be immense in that role, but would you pick him over Luke Garrard? Luke is such a likeable footballer but seems to be stuck in a rut after recovering from injury. He is solid enough, but just seems to be lacking something that Jay has at the moment.

Plus, assuming Conroy isn’t available at some point in the future and you go for Sam Hatton to fill in at right back, would it be possible to use Luke in midfield? It has been some time since he played there, and he wouldn’t immediately spring to mind ahead of the likes of Taylor or even Adjei. In fact it seems like a waste of Hatton’s talent even considering it. But could it actually work?

Moving down the opposite end of the pitch, Jon Main continued his miserable spell in front of goal once more on Saturday. In fact he contributed little to the game, seemed to be brushed off the ball all too easily and posed very little threat to the opposition goal. Some have mentioned how tired he looked towards the end, yet I would argue it is his lack of strength that really worried. At one stage he seemed to give up on a ball long before his chance of winning had gone, allowing his man to block him off and the ball to run out of play. He turned to me wth a look of agony and seemed to stare straight into my eyes (so maybe not the best time for me to cry ‘Oh come on Mainy!’ at him).

So what’s up with Jon Main? At the start of the season he was creating opportunities for himself with some intelligent running, but on Saturday at times he looked like a passenger. He gave the sort of performance you would have expected from someone suffering from a virus of some kind. I would imagine if Terry had a substitution left in him during the second half he would have hauled Main off, either for Godfrey or Wellard (with Moore supporting Kedwell up front).

With Ross Montague regaining fitness we could in theory see him set for a place on the bench come Saturday. In fact, could Terry even start with him? If Montague is good for an hour it would be good to see what he can do, with Main knowing he has the chance to be the impact sub many supporters believe it would be better to use him as. No player wants to earn a reputation as a supersub, and it would just be a short term thing providing a fresh Jon Main uses the opportunity to face tiring defences and turn opportunities into goals. It wouldn’t just be good for the team, it would be good for him personally.

Finally (before we get to the good bit), Chris Hussey didn’t look as dangerous as he has done of late, and defensively he was guilty of an error of sorts, but the boy can deliver an awesome dead ball when he puts his mind to it. His wonderful corner created the equaliser for Danny K, and his continued form has resulted in a standby spot for England C. Now I was speaking to a Manchester United fan last week moaning that our players seem to be overlooked for the squad, yet he seemed to believe this was a good thing for our young players. I can understand people perhaps feeling that it is a worthless exercise that could only result in a possible injury.

However, the ‘C’ squad don’t have twelve games a season for us to worry about. I can think of no better experience for a player such as Hussey (or Taylor, Gregory, Conroy, Hatton or Moore for that matter) to gain the sort of experience you just can’t buy. I for one would be proud of any Dons player called up to represent his country, and the fact we have half a dozen or so players who will still be under 23 in two years time (the duration of the forthcoming International Challenge Trophy that England ‘C’ compete for against a variety of representative sides across Europe).

So well done for receiving a place as standby for the squad Chris, but make sure you go on to show Fairclough just what a good player you can be. He certainly has the potential to prove himself the best under-23 leftback the Conference has to offer… and yes I appreciate the irony that I spent the first part of this article highlighting his mistake on Saturday before calling for him to be added to the England squad…

So, on to the ratings;

Pullen    5

Conroy    8

Hussey    6

Gregory    6

Inns    6

Johnson    6

Hatton    7

Adjei    6

Kedwell    8

Main    5

Moore    6

SUBS

Godfrey    6

Brown    6

Taylor    6

Explanation? Pullen looked poor even taking his injury into account, and no-one else really deserved more than a six with the exception of Conroy (for reasons listed above), Hatton (who really did well when asked to fill in at fullback, and still managed to get forwards to contribute a great ball for the first goal), plus of course Kedwell, our two goal hero.

After a free week, the Dons return next Saturday against Cambridge. Tune in for all the buildup – and I know some of my previews have been a bit lame of late, but I shall try my hardest to redress this balance – plus hopefully a couple of other pieces here and there…

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One thought on “Second Thoughts… Tamworth 5.9.09

  1. Jellicoe says:

    Thank you for sharing your interesting observations. I have noticed Conroy’s qualities in pre-season friendlies. Against Fulham he was excellent. His technique is already on League level (in fairness, Garrard also was on League level before injury, so probably he needs just more time to recover fully).

    We can be really proud of our team. I think Taylor is showing more and more of his qualities, Kedwell was magnificient last season and is even better now. Duncan also deserves admiration, as well Moore and Gregory. All our players from last season are doing great this season. We are perhaps little bit too harsh towards Jon Main. He is a great player and is more then capable to excel in this league. As with all strikers, just few misses and bad days could be seen as downhill, but Main deserves our support and foremost – faith in his fantastic abilities.

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