Photo Cred. David Linney
We aren’t having the season we were hoping for, but I believe that things are beginning to change. So here is a Vital exclusive, reasons to be positive.
For a team that is fighting out near the bottom of the league, it is amazing to think that we have kept 10 clean sheets in all competitions. Our defence, on its day, looks solid. As this is a positivity article we will look over the individual errors, but these have stopped. We went through a spell where our defence looked nervous, and us as fans we waiting for the error. However in the last few games, these mistakes have been cut out, and with it, results have improved. Our defence is also the place where we have the most depth. Facey has displaced Norman, who has improved over recent games. Scarr Clarke, and Sadler are all looking a lot more solid at Centre-back, as does Cockerill-Mollett when he slots in there. Jules has also shown he is handy in the left of a back three, or as a left back and Kory Roberts has been on hand to step in when required. Talking of Left backs, CCM and Pring are both solid options.
Onto the next positive point. Youth. Once again we have a crop of our own young players making waves in the first team. Let’s start with one I have already mentioned, Cockerill-Mollett. What a last few games this lad has had. He looks solid, can pick out a pass, and has really started forming a partnership with McDonald. He has shown that he can do both the pretty, and the ugly side of being a full back. He has also shown his mental strength. After his career stalling through injury a couple of years ago. He has broken through that and his determination is clear. Another player that has come through the ranks is Alfie Bates. We had all heard of his potential, and all saw his talent pre season. But his development since has been extraordinary. At just 18 years old, he is showing his fearlessness. He has shown he is good from corners, can shoot from range and can pick out a pass. Yes he will make mistakes, maybe not play the right ball at the right time, but can anyone blame him? At times he has looked the brightest spark on the pitch. A couple more ‘of our own’ are Kinsella, and both of the Roberts. Kinsella has been an engine, and working well with Bates. He has grown into the experienced role and shows why he was such an important player to sign up. Liam Roberts is slowly getting his confidence back, after being part of the relegated team. Yes there are questions raised about his handling and distribution, but his shot stopping is getting back to that of a couple of years ago, and lets not forget his is still young for a keeper, who celebrated his 24th birthday this week. Kory Roberts may not have featured much, but he has had to step up and play in a couple of games when players have been injured or suspended. He has looked like he is slowly getting back to they player he was, and with the reserves playing more often, it won’t be long before he is vying for regular first team action.
Partnerships are beginning to develop. CCM and McDonald’s look like they are starting to gel well together. Clarke has looked solid alongside Sadler and Scarr in recent games. Shay Facey’s introduction to the team has coincided with Rory Holden’s form getting better, and lets not forget Holden has managed to get a few assists off of set-pieces recently, so clearly something is working well on the training ground. Up top, our front two of Gordon and Lavery have clicked well, with a few more goals being chipped in by both. Gordon spoke of how similar minded they are, and therefore know where each other are going to be.
The other youth positive is how well Miguel Llera has been getting the U-18s playing. They sit 6th in the Youth Alliance Northwest Division, 6 points off top with 2 games in hand. On top of this, they are unbeaten at home, and have won 5 out of 8 league games. In the cup, they were knocked out in the 2nd round of the FA Cup after a tough game against Fleetwood, after a good win against Coventry in the first round. They are also top of the youth alliance cup group after 2 games. It is great to see the academy doing well, and developing our young talent.
This season has seen the introduction of a ladies team, who have teams of all ages. The First team have had a great start to the season and see themselves flying high in 3rd place of the Staffordshire Girls and Ladies league. It has been a real delight to see the girls doing well, and long may it continue.
Finally, a positive in the last couple of weeks is the financial gain from progressing through to the next round of 2 cups. We all know that the club has a small budget, so a good cup run, in whatever tournament that may be, brings about a big financial gain. Not only does the club gain income for simply progressing, but they also gain extra income from the ticket sales. Wins against Oxford and Chelsea U-21s would see a big financial boost, at a perfect time with the transfer window opening in just over a months time.
So that’s enough positivity for this week. Normal service will now resume.