I felt from all the reports and opinions from Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Morecambe that a match report would have lasted only a couple of paragraphs at best (not just me being lazy!) but a point is a point and clean sheet was desperately needed. With one small positive, though, usually comes more negatives and the fact that we failed to really trouble Morecambe’s keeper is a concern.
Even more so is that Clive Platt and Jacob Blyth both missed the game and will now sit out for up to three weeks leaving Roy O’ Donovan and youngsters Ivan Toney and JJ Hooper as the only realistic attacking options. Paul Reid and Mathias Doumbe managed to help the side to a clean sheet in their first game as a partnership in central defence against one of the higher scoring teams in League Two so far so that’s a good sign of hopefully better times to come.
It feels a bit like we’ve gone full circle and we’re back to trying to be a team that’s difficult to beat first and foremost, something highlighted by Ben Tozer’s introduction into the Morecambe game late on for striker Toney. If that’s how it needs to be then great but we have two very tough games coming up away from home at two high flying clubs in AFC Wimbledon and Oxford United. With the lack of fire power at one end there’s likely to be endless pressure on the new defensive unit in these upcoming fixtures.
Whether we dip into the loan market again (Blyth will likely return to Leicester and attempt to come back once he’s all fixed up) is unknown but from what Boothroyd is saying it’s likely that he’ll be having a look around to see what’s about. This is where contacts are going to be absolutely key at a time when we need that massive lift to wipe away the cobwebs of the early season.
You can make a case for putting in the young players but, in the middle of a battle to get out of the bottom two, I don’t think this is the right time. Any loans need to be reliable heads that Boothroyd trusts to score goals and compete with the hunger that’s needed at this stage. It can be a different type of striker that’s needed if you’re in a scrap at one end of the table than if we were flying high at the top and that has to be recognised so that we’re not just going for a youngster from Championship side X or Y whose experience is only comparable to what we have already.
It’s going to be a tough, tough couple of weeks with these games but we can’t abandon ship when hope is fading. I’ve said it more than I would have wanted to in the last couple of season but this sort of time supporting a football club makes players stand up and find out what they’re about whilst, at the same time, challenging our own loyalties.
Hold on in there!