Absolutely. We began the season with a lot of new players, who supporters didn’t know and who had to gel to form a new team. I don’t think many expected we’d be where we are now, by now.
Recent form has been excellent. We’re second in the league for form over the last 12 matches, and second also for the last four.
I’m very confident in saying that doing the double over local rivals Aldershot is very much the highlight for most of our supporters. Traditionally, never mind relative league positions, we’ve somehow contrived to lose many of these Christmas and New Year games, sometimes badly!
Key players are probably the centre backs – Scott Cuthbert, Luke Wilkinson and Joe McNerney. Manager Darren Sarll is very keen on a solid and miserly defence. In midfield Rohan Ince has become indispensable while Rhys Browne has proved a very useful addition up front. My personal ‘favourite’ is James Daly, who has searing pace and a decent eye for goal. He takes a fair amount of physical punishment because of the threat he poses but just gets up and gets on with it.
We’re all very impressed by Darren. He joined with 6 weeks to go last season which gave him the chance to have a good look at then-current players and decide who he wanted to retain. He then recruited, with hindsight, very, very well indeed. I did his first interview for the club website and he told me then that his beliefs are relatively simple. He plays 4-4-2 and if you don’t run and you don’t tackle, you don’t get in his team.
I would guess the same as started at Scunthorpe (a 2-0 win). 13 Craig Ross, 2 Dan Moss, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Scott Cuthbert, 5 Joe McNerney, 8 James Daly, 10 Padraig Amond, 14 Rhys Browne, 15 Charlie O’Connell, 17 Jim Kellermann, 16 Solomon Nwabuokei. The only change that might be made is if Jermaine Anderson has regained full fitness as Darren rates him very highly. If so, I guess he would replace O’Connell in midfield.
The league table doesn’t lie and, while they each only beat us by one goal, Wrexham (and we only had 10 men for much of that game) and Notts are where they are on merit (and money!).
STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
In my view, the main strengths are resilience, determination and energy. Obviously there’s skill, but Darren is very clear that character is hugely important to him when recruiting.
Despite it being late January, there’s a lot of games still to go. I think winning the league may be a tall order, which would leave one place available. It appears that the current main contenders for that place are Notts or Wrexham, Chesterfield and ourselves. Inevitably, things will change and one or more teams will emerge to challenge that perspective. I think the vast majority of our supporters are strongly hoping for play-offs, with this slowly turning towards expectation. With no encouragement from Darren, who will continue to focus on the next game, as all managers do.
I’m afraid I’m going to go for a Woking win. Our league position isn’t a fluke – we really ARE pretty good ! So I’ll go 2-0 and will wipe any egg off my face on Wednesday morning !!
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