Forgive me for going all ‘Brent’ on you! In short, a return to defensive solidity after the crazy Crawley shenanigans. Sherring (my motm, sorry Connor) was especially impressive alongside Cam (this partnership has ticked along nicely) quietly and efficiently getting on about his business and doing well against Wood’s dangerous attacking combination. Plus he scored! Kyle himself mis-controlled some balls on the wet surface but did what he had to do in testing conditions, with all his usual aggression coming to the fore. After conceding 6, Gulls confidence could have easily evaporated into more uncertainty, but this was clear assurance that the cup jitters were a one off and we’re ready to move on.
Boreham’s midfield is strong and physical, and United struggled to win their match ups – with Wood’s well organised 3-5-2 causing us problems for much of the game. The away team were confident in building attacks out of defence, before distributing the ball to Sorba Thomas asap! Without the room to roam and the weather causing difficulties, United’s own attacks stuttered – making Nemane and Whitfield frustrated bystanders at times. But despite the struggles, United still had enough chances to take 3 points (mainly from the quality of their set pieces) and rather than retreat with 10 men, the lads remained positive to the end, showing a strong mentality that bodes well for future battles.
Sorba Thomas gave Ben his toughest league game of the season, and the winger had the upper hand especially in the 1st half with his winding runs. But credit goes to the full back, who came back strong after the break and pushed forward himself to turn Thomas around (no doubt encouraged by the wise owl GJ to be more aggressive). Rather than play safe and hope for support from the midfield, Ben took a far more proactive approach. Such stubborn resilience and character makes this maturing and quality footballer an important member of the squad. PS – What a hit that volley was during the second half by the way, almost a worldy!
NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE
After a few games bedding into the squad, Danny Wright has become an indispensable member of the 1st team. On Saturday GJ was most likely deliberating about subs around the hour mark, but with the side down to 10 men Wright’s abilities as a target man were eventually required for 90 energy sapping minutes. Umerah has shown glimpses of potential, but lacks knowhow and sharpness at the moment to lead the line on his own – a rough diamond perhaps who can come good in time. Meanwhile we all await the return of Nelson and the possible impact of Waters. But in the here and now there is no direct replacement for what Wright brings to the table, and that showed on Saturday.
JAKE OUT OF FAVOUR
For the second game running Jake Andrews was not summoned from the bench by GJ, a telling sign that the midfield is struggling to find favour with his boss at the moment. With Randell suspended and Armani suffering a pelvic injury, Halifax away could be Jake’s chance to show GJ he should feature more often. He could do worse than following Connor’s example. CLE looks fitter and stronger than ever this season – a consistent performer in the Gulls team, his work ethic in closing down defenders and making himself available was a constant plus on Saturday. We’ve all seen Andrews talents in the last couple years, but the gaffer needs persuading. Next Saturday is the perfect time for him to prove he’s got what it takes.
Life in lockdown is not throwing up lots of entertainment at the moment, so even an unremarkable draw versus Boreham Wood is one of the highlights of my week! But seriously the 90 minutes had a lot to enjoy in my opinion. Two NL contenders set up well by two managers at completely different ends of their careers. Both teams pushing for 3 points in different ways and making the best of a rare afternoon when the sofa was not a bad alternative to Bristow’s – even if the kids’ noise was occasionally more intolerable than the optimistic calls for offside in BB! Onwards we move, hopefully making hay in the NL whilst the sun shines (not literally!). The signs remain positive for the season ahead, let’s enjoy the ride.
All the best to Lucas Covolan and Armani Little for their recovery from recent knocks.