Today’s Season Preview Part 3 looks at the TUFC attack, with Dominic and Luke once again giving their verdicts on what Nico has at his disposal – this time it’s attack, which includes:
Scoring goals is a big worry at Plainmoor, and this season is no different! At least we have some competition for places for the upcoming campaign, with three new signings added to Keating and Reid who decided to come back again.
Similar to Luke I would expect Ruairi to start the season upfront with JP. Keating made a big impression on us all last season, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the expectation of the Yellow Army. The pressure will be on him and I think he may struggle at times; remember he’s still a young lad learning his trade. Saying that he’ll work his socks off and will hopefully reap the benefits as the season progresses.
Alongside him Pittman offers both quickness and experience – two valuable commodities at any level. Can he hit the target though? JP’s record has not been bad over the years, but it doesn’t suggest he’ll be hitting more than double figures. As long as he works well with Ruairi and others this may not be a problem, and I think the Yellow Army will appreciate what he brings to the table.
James Gray is Nicho taking a punt on a player with potential. His CV has been chequered and points at a player who has struggled to settle anywhere since being a promising youth. From what I’ve seen the work-rate is there and if his attitude can remain positive, he might just force his way into the first XI. He definitely looks like he can take a chance when it comes begging; we always need a bit of that.
That just leaves Reidy and some bloke called Fallon as the other attacking options. I had predicted the return of Jamie and so it proved. Can he deliver and become more than a rough diamond? I’d like to think so, but a lack of composure at the crucial times is a big problem and will continue to be problem unless something drastically changes; plus his shooting is erratic at the best of times!
Big Rory is another matter entirely! A target man has been on the cards for a while, but the ex-Argyle man is not a popular choice. The argument of ‘cheap option’ has been mentioned a lot; I wish we didn’t have to rely on ‘cheap option’s to fill the squad – but hey ho that’s where we are at. He might come on, impact games and win us a few points here or there – if that’s the case then it’s been a worthwhile exercise!
Overall I wish we had a 20 goal a season man, with others just chipping in as and when. That’s unlikely to be the case and it is definitely a concern of mine, that we’ll get in a rut (as we so often do) and have no proven frontman to get us out of it. Let’s hope between them we have enough firepower, I certainly need convincing!
Our front-line is a tough one to call, so please don’t quote me on any of this if they end up banging in 20 each, or none at all! I can see Jon-Paul Pittman and Ruairi starting together come the 5th August, with James Gray the main option off the bench.
‘JP’ looks to be an astute signing and a goal every other game last season for Harrogate is no small achievement – the NL North is one of the most competitive divisions in Non-League football. I think he’ll compliment Keating well, the blend of experience and youth should offer us a well supplemented, intelligent and threatening strike force.
Looking at the individuals, pace and natural athleticism are half the battle in the Conference and I do think our striking options, on the most part, tick that box. As I’ve mentioned, JP and Ruairi are quick and sharp, they’ll cause havoc against the slower defences. I remain an advocate of Jamie Reid, and I’m convinced that in the right circumstances you can trust him, he’s quick and clever, you can certainly do worse than him at this level; he’s a good alternative option.
As for James Gray, what a pre-season! I’ve seen him play once before for Wrexham and he definitely showed flashes of ability. From what I’ve read, off the field incidents have had the better of him, but could it be that Torquay makes a perfect match for him, both on and off the pitch? He owes Nicholson one for sure, and that often can be the recipe for a career jump-start.
And finally, Rory Fallon. He really isn’t the target man answer in my opinion and I’d be disappointed to see too much playing time sacrificed for others on his part. Ten years ago, I’d have jumped at the signing, but football moves on and our five places on the bench are valuable. That being said, even now, I have to remind myself that this is a non-contract move and who knows, he might surprise us. I have to add, as admirable as his desire is, a player in the New Zealand team is of absolutely no benefit to a National League club but we’ll see.
Watch out for 2017-18 Predictions tomorrow from a carefully selected TT Panel!
Dominic & Luke – TT