Club call (part one)
January 1, 2000
With the League season now into its second quarter, I thought that a surf of club websites would be timely.
My review took in games played up until, and including, last Saturday and looks at whether or not clubs are on track for where they want to be, has the start lived up to expectation, hopes and dreams or are there worries about what is to come. Approaching November is the time that the well used term ‘It is still early days’ is beginning to wear a little bit thin, albeit there is still a very long time to go until the shouting stops next May time.
A quick call on the clubs promoted from non League football last time round would seem a good place to start especially with them doing very well so far and following their meeting last week. Two leading articles on the Crawley website struck me straight away, ‘Six out of Six as Reds hit five’ and ‘Gaffers Sunday reaction.’ The first piece described the performance by Crawley as outstanding with that man Tubbs planting another penalty to clock up his ninth goal of the season. This is what Crawley boss Steve Evans had to say.
“Over the season some may say we are not good enough but they can never say we lack character, desire or fitness”.
Fair point perhaps, but at some time quality becomes the overriding factor. We shall watch with interest.
The Wimbledon site is still a bit of an amateur looking affair if I’m honest, but we have to admire where this football club have come from in such a short space of time. Manager Terry Brown has been instrumental to say the very least and this is what he had to say after last Saturday.
“Hammer horror stuff, horrendous defending but we showed a lot of character to bounce back before half time. The second half we came out and were a damp squid.”
There you have it, that word ‘character’ again. Wimbledon well beaten after the break, it seems, but I’m sure that they would have taken a top ten place at this stage and when you consider the home defeat on the opening day.
Gillingham, Shrewsbury Town and Oxford United are all there, or thereabouts, as predicted by many in pre season. The surprise packages at this time would seem to be Southend United, Cheltenham Town and Morecambe. I daresay though, that many connected with those respective clubs would have given a view of optimism back in August.
Morecambe appear to be a little shy in front of their own fans but away from home it is a different story. They have chalked up no fewer than five away wins already and have yet to lose on their travels. Last Saturday saw a thumping 4-0 victory at Vale Park. Talking of his players, Shrimps manager Jim Bentley said that every one of them put in a shift with Lewis Alessandra again being named the Man of the Match as he was after the very creditable draw at Southend on their previous away outing.
Talking of Southend, they also weighed in with a four goal haul to keep their impressive run on track. The club on the other end of their fifth home win were Torquay United. The match report on the Southend website included words such as clever, impressive and persistent. The report concludes that the home side held on comfortably to a three goal advantage despite a late consolation from the Devon outfit. That made it eight games unbeaten in the League for the Essex club.
Much closer to home, Cheltenham Town have turned quite a few heads with a well earned place in the automatic promotion places. Former Rovers and Robins striker Julian Alsop believes Town have what it takes to make an impact this season. Following the Friday night home win over Accrington manager Steve Yates had this to say.
“There are always things that you can improve on but that is just being picky. We didn’t pass and keep the ball as well as we would have liked, but we still created more chances and won the game.”
So keeping the ball and passing is the key to success. I, for one, will vote for that. Incidentally, Cheltenham has the meanest home defence in the League at the time of writing, with only four goals conceded at Whaddon Road. I am sure that former Rovers favourite Steve Elliot has played his full part.
Down at the bottom, Plymouth are not looking good with the situation off the pitch still to be resolved. Daggers, our visitors today, are finding life difficult having been relegated last season. Hereford and Barnet are where a lot of League Two predictors thought they would be and Bradford, with a new and well thought of young manager at the helm, still cannot rise to where they really ought to be given the size of the club.
I will be looking at the websites of these clubs, Club Call (Part 2), in the next edition of The Pirate.