Monday, 15 July 2013

More small steps

After Tuesday's goalfest at Evesham, a repeat was never on the cards at Cirencester - especially when we saw the mercury hitting 30 degrees.
It was hard enough to sit and watch in that heat, let alone run about and try to impress the manager and both sides deserved credit for their efforts.
Cirencester were more of a stern test than Evesham, as was shown by the result - but, looking on the ruthless side, we did miss a few chances.
We started in a 4-4-2 line-up of Roberts; Jombati, O'Donnell, Elliott, Jones; McGlashan, Rees, Taylor, Deering; Harrison, Cureton.
The main focus was on the triallists Danny O'Donnell and Josh Rees, although Mark Yates did admit later that O'Donnell was only playing as Troy Brown was a late arrival.
Brown later admitted that he got the time of the team meeting wrong, and had earlier burnt himself with his iron, so we move on and it gave O'Donnell more chance to impress.
He looks a solid enough player, was okay in the air, stepped out a few times to make interceptions and looks comfortable enough on the ball - but at the age of 27 and with Elliott, Brown and Keith Lowe all able to play at centre-half, he is going to Wales but I can't see him having a long-term future with us.
This is backed up by reading between the lines in some of Yatesy's comments - we are helping him get fit and he is helping us out ... to me, that doesn't sound like he is in line for a deal.
Rees was impressive on Tuesday - he looks a good athlete and comfortable on the ball, and he also seems to have a decent attitude.
Saturday's 72 minutes enhanced that view. He wasn't able to get forward as much as he did on Tuesday, but again he looked good on the ball, won a few tackles, always wanted the ball and was not fazed if he gave the ball away.
Of the triallists, Rees looks the most likely to get a contract. The fact that he has been here since the start of pre-season is an indicator of how much he is rated by the management.
I would be happy if Rees was given a deal - however, to play devil's advocate, what message would that send out to Joe Hanks?
Hanks is a year younger than Rees, and we have invested a lot of time into Joe, and obviously see enough in him to have given him a professional contract.
Rees, as we know, has been schooled at Arsenal, so is he a better bet than Joe? Would Rees being here hinder his progress, so would we be better to give our own product a chance...? An interesting conundrum for Yates.
All the goals at Cirencester came in that first half. As with Evesham, Jamie Cureton headed in the first after 11 minutes, from a Jermaine McGlashan cross.
The only difference between the goals was that Cureton was bit further out and had a bit more work to do with the header, glancing it wide of the goalkeeper.
Cirencester levelled after that rare occurence - a Steve Elliott mistake - let Joe Shephard in for a well-taken equaliser which gave Connor Roberts no chance.
But within a minute, Sam Deering had put us back in front, after a nice build-up involving Sido, Byron Harrison and Cureton.
Deering has been impressive so far in pre-season, and he and Cureton were linking well together, with Sam playing a different role on the left-hand side.
At half-time, the over 30s, Cureton, Jones and Elliott went off, along with Jason Taylor, to be replaced by Joe Anyinsah, Keith Lowe, Troy Brown and Russ Penn.
Anyinsah tried hard, but missed a good chance and didn't do enough to enhance his contract hopes - however he will also be going to Wales, although I would be surprised if he is taken on.
That was shown even more when we got our first look at Terry Gornell, our most recent recruit.
His first touch, a superb turn and pass, set up a good chance for Anyinsah, which he failed to take, and the former Shrewsbury and Rochdale man looks a decent acquisition - as we will get fitter and stronger.
I didn't realise he was only 23 - he seems to have been around a lot longer than that, and he is taller than I had thought previously as well, so adding him to Cureton and Harrison looks a good move.
It also increases the pressure on Harrison, who will need to step up now. After he arrived, he put in some decent performances off the bench (Burton, Port Vale especially) and there is no shortage of effort from him, but Cureton, Gornell and Mr AN Other if he arrives will mean for real competition.
Gornell came on after an hour, along with the youngsters Hanks, Zack Kotwica and Ed Williams.
Hanks played at right-back, replacing Jombati, while Kotwica and Williams came on for McGlashan and Deering, with all three once again not looking out of place at all, while Bobbie Dale came on for Rees in the final change.
The second-half was fragmented with those substitutions, but overall it was another decent workout despite the heat, with the plusses being another Cureton goal, decent displays from Rees and Deering and signs of some good link-ups around the squad.
Wales this week is a key time for the squad to bond and for Yatesy to get that team bonding and unity nailed down, and also to carry on moulding the squad together.
On what we have seen so far of his four new boys, the signs are promising (Matt Richards was injured on Saturday), and of  the triallists I would only seriously be looking at Rees, although George Bowerman is unlucky to have picked up an injury at the wrong time.
He won't be in Wales but will be staying on the radar, and Yates, intriguingly, said is three players short, and waiting on one specific player to make his mind up, then he will know what direction he is taking.
I did ask him if Luke Rooney remains on the wanted list, to which the answer was yes, and we will see how the managerial change at Swindon affects that over the next few weeks I guess... .
Whether I am putting 2 and 2 together and getting five in thinking Rooney is the player Yates is waiting on, I am not sure, but I asked the question in the hope of nailing that avenue down.
Rooney is reportedly on a very good whack at Swindon, and I would suspect that it is that pay packet which may be holding things up.
I think we are looking at a left winger (be that Mr Rooney or someone else), another forward (I would expect a target-man type, as we seem to be lacking that) and maybe a defender as cover, which could be a young loanee, plus maybe Josh Rees - I suspect then Yatesy will think we are ready.
Mark Wright, yet another Shrewsbury ex-player, is the latest name in the left-winger frame, and he would certainly fit the bill.
He is older than I thought he was, at 31, but scored against us when Shrews won 1-0 at Whaddon Road.
We seem to specialise in signing players who score, or do well, against us, so he may yet be wending that well-trod path from Shropshire very soon.