It wasn’t quite the fairy tale return to Huish Park after four weeks on the road, in-form Hampton and Richmond came to town and battled to a 0-0 draw. Ian was at Huish Park and here are his conclusions…

It was another game where we spurned chances. It’s become a growing theme in recent games that we’ve not been able to finish good chances. We saw it at Chippenham and Dartford on the road, and it was the same on the return to Huish Park. Rhys Murphy had two good opportunities in the first half and Frank Nouble should have scored when he was played through by Sonny Blu Lo-Everton. With Hyde and Stevens injured, Fisher still finding fitness and Cox back at Exeter we could do with a top up up top.

Rhys Murphy wide of goal. Picture courtesy of Gary Brown.

You can see why Hampton and Richmond have enjoyed a good run. They had early chances in both halves and we struggled to break them down. They were disciplined defensively and when they our press and got the ball to Jake Gray they had good moments around the edge of the box. When they brought on Bloomfield in the second half if gave them an extra man up top and his physicality gave our defence an extra battle to contend with. While Joe Day had more routine saves to make, I thought we were pretty comfortable defensively.

Sonny Blu Lo Everton tries his luck. Picture courtesy of Gary Brown.

We took too long to get some pace on.  It wasn’t until the 88th minute that Will Dawes was introduced and he had one sprint down the wing which had Hampton backpedalling towards goal. It was a flat atmosphere at Huish Park, and we needed a spark to get the fans going. Dawes gives us that with his direct running so it was a shame to not see him earlier. Without Stevens, Dawes is the only attacking pace we have and when Mark Cooper says he wants to strengthen in the forward areas, that’s where I think we could do with more.

Jay Foulston had a solid debut. Our Friday night signing came straight into the team while Alex Whittle is still recovering. He got himself into good positions going forward and looks to have fitted in straight away. Before the match, Mark Cooper said he’d been on the club’s radar for a while but the deal wasn’t financially possible until now with Taunton’s troubles. We’ve been wanting depth at left back to provide cover for Alex Whittle and now we’ve got a genuine battle for position.

Jay Foulston finds his man. Picture courtesy of Gary Brown.

I have questions about the midfield. We’ve reverted to a three, with Charlie Cooper, Matt Worthington and Lo-Everton. Matt Worthington was given a license to roam yesterday but spent of a lot of time in left midfield in the 2nd half as it became more of a 4-4-2. In the switch to 4-3-3, I feel we’ve taken away from the attack. It was a familiar tale to the start of the season with a lot of possession in between the boxes but that lack of magic as we entered the box. I think we’ve got four good centre midfielders in Cooper, Worthy, Lo-Everton and Josh Owers and I think we’ve played better with two in midfield rather than three. Three gives us control of game but if Jordan Young doesn’t produce a moment there’s no one else who can.

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Phil A
5 months ago

Summed it up nicely, Ian! The team should be greater than the sum of its parts – not just because we need to play certain players because they add something. The system deployed in the good run had just minor tweaks based on rotation of those we know won’t be played on “cough-cough” surface OR due to suspension. Coops has the talent there, it’s just finding that formula that worked so well over the winning streak. Would like to know who the 1-2 out to bring others in…or is it just one of those managerial throwaway comments?