With our 3rd game of pre-season done and dusted, the lions still boast a 100% record with 8 goals scored and 3 conceded. Saturday brought our first Football League opposition of the summer with arguably our biggest test so far, however scoring goals for fun in pre-season is much preferred to a bore draw affair.
To Crawley’s credit, under new manager Dermot Drummy they played some decent football, and probably dominated proceedings for the majority of the first half. But for Gregory’s goal against the run of play it was a deserved lead at the break for the League Two side. I for one will be interested to see where Crawley end up in their division, because if Saturday was anything to go by they will be an exciting side in that division.
As I’ve mentioned throughout pre-season in my previous posts, the key for Neil Harris in these games is not so much the win, what weighs in with more importance is the performance of the team. The first half wouldn’t of pleased Harris, with two sloppy goals coming from defensive errors. However I’m sure the second would’ve served justice to what the team have worked on so far this season, with two goals unable to be returned by Crawley as we ran out 3-2 winners.
As is the norm so far this season, below you can find my player ratings of the game, if you don’t agree with my ratings I’d love to hear yours:
Jordan Archer – 6 – I’m sure Archer will be disappointed to concede two goals in his 45 minute spell on the pitch, however for both you’d go a long way to try and blame Archer for either of the goals. His normal self claiming everything into his area of the box, the only blip as mentioned would be the lack of a clean sheet.
Mahlon Romeo – 6 – Not a typical stand out game from Romeo, who had his hands full for the majority of the game with the pacy Crawley left winger a constant nuisance down our right side of defence. Overall Romeo did enough to deal with the winger thanks to his own undoubted turn of pace, but a good work out for our young full back.
Byron Webster – 5 – A couple of key mistakes both punished for Crawley’s goals, it wasn’t the ideal performance from probably our best central defender last season. As we saw last season we know Webster will be the first to put his hand up and be quick to put right his mistakes. I suppose if there is ever a time to make a mistake or two it would be during pre-season…
Shaun Hutchinson – 6 – One that is growing on me, new signing Hutchinson looked solid throughout on Saturday. His height and strength is crucial to his style of play, with the defender winning every single 50 50 header in the air. A nuisance again during our attacking set plays, he could be your weekly punt for anytime goalscorer throughout the season.
Tony Craig – 5 – I don’t think I’d even need to explain why I have given Craig a 5 for most of you. Tony Craig shouldn’t be anywhere near the side if he is deemed a left back this season. You’ll see your typical crunching tackles from Craig which is more than welcomed and always gets us fans off their seats and cheering you on. However the modern day full back needs to contribute in attack too, and with Craig you don’t quite get the same as you would if a Joe Martin or Noah Chesmain were in the side. A valid emergency option when injuries takeover, but not a first choice left back going into the season for me.
Aiden O’Brien – 5 – Another who is building a reputation for being played out of position, O’Brien struggled to deal with Crawley’s attacking full back which contributed to the home sides success down our right side of defence. We know what O’Brien brings to the side, and I’m sure Harris would’ve wanted to see whether O’Brien is an option on the wings. However if Saturday is anything to go by, I’m sure we won’t see O’Brien in the side on the right flank at the expense of new signing David Worrall.
Shaun Williams – 6 – Not a standout but a solid performance from Williams in midfield, we clearly missed Thompson’s energy next to Abdou but with Williams you know what you get with his undoubted ability on the ball. Also showing his ability in the box to get on a header and score the equaliser to make it 2-2, it’s a further argument for me that Williams should be considered as a central defender this season.
Jimmy Abdou – 6 – Your typical Jimmy Abdou 6/10 performance which you’d get every single game of the season with the occasional 7/10. He doesn’t win every fan over, however for me Abdou is a player you appreciate more when he isn’t in the side. Surely will be in the XI on the 6th August with Thompson at home to Oldham.
Gregg Wylde – 5 – Probably the only one of the new signings who is yet to put in an impressive performance or produce that bit of magic to win us over. Saturday we missed a good delivery into the box with Wylde and O’Brien failing to produce a worthy delivery for our forwards to attack. Of course we’d reserve judgment until the real business begins, but you’d like to expect a bit more from Wylde in our final two games to get into the side ahead of Ferguson.
Lee Gregory – 6 – Only noteworthy impact was scoring a goal, and if Gregory was to repeat such a performance for the majority of the season who would complain? Not that I don’t want Gregory to score, but with every goal you fear potential suitors in the division above are only a phone call away.
Steve Morison – 7 – Working his way through the motions, Morison looks ready for the season ahead. Leading the line in typical manner, including running the channel and going one on one with defenders Morison shows no sign of letting up despite being another year older. Taking his winning goal equally well from a Ferguson cross, Morison proves his continued importance in our starting XI.
David Forde – 6 – Not much to do in his 45 minutes on the pitch, however more assured compared to Bromley last weekend.
Shane Ferguson – 8 – My man of the match in his first pre-season game, having only been introduced into the game on 60 minutes in place of Wylde. As mad as this might all sound, Ferguson was a game changer on Saturday, immediately involved down the left hand side, Ferguson was in charge of all set plays and we suddenly looked a different side. With two assists to his name also, Ferguson’s ability from dead ball situations is probably the best in the squad. He might not have the over riding pace like Wylde has, however in games which might be decided by set plays, Ferguson for sure is a starter in the XI.
Fred Onyedinma – 6 – Played through the middle next to Morison, a lack of understanding between the two when Morison won his headers was understandable. However, Onyedinma’s pace stretched the Crawley back line and contributed to our winning goal.
David Worrall – 6
Ben Thompson – 6