The first match under Chris Hargreaves at Huish Park ended with a 1-1 draw with the National League favourites Wrexham. Here are Ian’s Five Conclusions (although it could have been more) from a scorching afternoon of football.
Let’s not write off the 3-5-2 just yet. I wondered if we’d see a back four against Wrexham after the terrible first half against Scunthorpe. What do I know though? It was significantly more effective against Wrexham and we we’re on the front-foot with it too. Charlie Wakefield and Jamie Reckord were wingers more often than they were at full-back. Matt Worthington and Sam Perry got early touches on the ball and we used them in the midfield far better than last week. But for the sloppy opener, it felt like things started to click yesterday.
Josh Staunton was imperious in the second half. In the first 45 minutes, Wrexham got a lot of joy. It felt like Ollie Palmer and Paul Mullin were given a bit too much license to dictate. After the half time break, there were a couple of moments where Palmer dropped deep to pick up the ball and Staunton was on top of him immediately to prevent it. He won duels with Mullin in the second half and showed why he’s pivotal in that back three. Based on yesterday, I’d have Staunton at the heart of the defence moving forward.
Because Matt Worthington stepped up and took charge in midfield. It feels like we say every season is a big season for Worthy, but yesterday was one of the best games I can remember him having in green and white. In a trio of Perry and Sam Pearson, Worthington is the experience. He’s always had experience around him, whether it was Charlie Lee, Jimmy Smith, Staunton or Gorman, Worthington has always been the ‘young’ one. But, yesterday he showed what he can be about. He never stopped running, he never stopped challenging for headers that he was never going to win, he put himself about and (just about) managed to stay out of trouble. Towards the end of the game, he went shoulder to shoulder with Paul Mullin and came out on top with the ball and got a move going nicely, which typified his performance.
Gime Toure could be a fans’ favourite. His first touches of the ball saw him wriggle through three Wrexham players and earn a free kick. His second touches of the ball saw
him drive at the right back and flash a wicked ball across the face of goal that was screaming to be tapped in. He showed moments of skill and a real intention to drive forward. He’s a different type of attacker to anyone else we’ve got at the club and hopefully he’ll build off of that cameo and produce even more.
Malachi Linton can be the star of this team. His first game in front of the Huish Park faithful will be one to remember. A goal as good as any you’ll see at Huish Park, smashed home with frustration after missing a guilt-edged chance moments earlier says a lot about the character of Malachi. Like his teammates, he never stopped chasing, he fought for the team and that effort led to the chance that Howard saved. Last weekend he showed enough to make me optimistic and yesterday I thought the same. He’s off the mark now, let’s see where he goes!
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