Saturday brought the end of our scheduled pre-season friendlies for the first team squad. Ending pre-season with 3 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat, with the defeat largely containing under 21 players. Therefore if pre-season results are anything to go by, we should expect a promising season right?
The opposition on Saturday was Championship side Brentford, a club who’s position we’d all like to be in, and a team who likes to play football building from the back in defence. A good test for our squad going into the start of the season, and a game I felt we did ourselves no harm in, with the result ending in a 1-1 draw in Tony Craig’s testimonial.
Below you will find my player ratings for the starting XI along with early substitute Aiden O’Brien, with others too late to come on and have an impact on the match:
Jordan Archer – 6 – Will be disappointed to have conceded Brentford’s only goal direct from a free kick. Having to deal with the Brentford players who decided to stand in front of Archer, the keeper seemed to lose all bearings and allowed the ball to drift into the corner of the net. Aside from the goal, Archer was alert during the visitors best spell of the game, and did superbly to produce a double save denying Saunders and the rebounded effort from Logan.
Mahlon Romeo – 6 – Another solid performance from Romeo, his desire to get forward on the overlap never seems to fade away. The right hand side looks like it picks itself, with both Romeo and Worrall already having a clear understanding of each others game. With both an outlet on the counter, expect the partnership to only blossom as the season gets underway next week.
Byron Webster – 6 – Workmanlike performance from Webster, who goes about his business without showing any pressure in defence. What stood out on Saturday was the patience Webster had on the ball, instead of looking to play immediately forward, the defender also looked for the pass when the opportunity presented itself. Probably one of the first names on the team sheet, barring injury or suspension expect Webster to keep his place for the entire season.
Shaun Hutchinson – N/A – The only negative for us on Saturday was 20 minutes into the game with new defender Hutchinson picking up a niggling injury to his hamstring. I’m absolutely gutted for the new defender, who stood out the most for me in pre-season and along with Worrall was a player I couldn’t wait to see going into the season. It’s never nice seeing a player pickup an injury a week before the season, however I firmly believe Hutchinson will be back in the team and keep his place once a chance comes his way.
Tony Craig – 7 – The man of the moment, a player who seems to split opinion among many with a low turnout for Craig on Saturday for his testimonial. Without dwelling on the attendance I believe Saturday was Craig’s best performance of pre-season, which also coincided with his return to the centre of defence. With Hutchinson going off injured Craig was moved over and showed exactly what he is about in this position, with a few notable last ditch tackles and controlling the defence with Webster. Of course I wouldn’t want Hutchinson injured, however the outcome means we won’t see Craig at left back next weekend, and that is a big relief for me.
David Worrall – 7 – Almost my man of the match, I think even Worrall would want to forget his one on one in the first half. However aside from that miss Worrall continued to show his worth, proving a nuisance throughout on the right of midfield. As mentioned above the partnership with Romeo is there to be seen, but what also impressed was Worrall’s ability to take players on and even step inwards from the right flank. Although Worrall is right footed, he clearly isn’t afraid to use his left and it doesn’t matter which foot he uses it normally causes a nuisance in the box, my signing of the summer so far.
Shaun Williams – 7 – Given the opportunity to impress in front of Abdou, Williams certainly took his chance. It’s the hot topic and probably the most debated of who should be playing in the middle of the park. We all know what is offered from our three options including Thompson, who seems to be the guaranteed starter out of the three. On Saturday we saw exactly what Williams is capable of, with Brentford allowing the midfielder time on the ball, we got to see the range of passing available, with Williams able to find attackers with ease deep from midfield. If put under pressure would Williams have put in the same performance? I suppose against a team like Oldham you need Williams in the side, and that looks to be the case going into next week.
Ben Thompson – 6 – A quiet one by Thompson’s high standards, but still a job done in midfield with his constant energy. Looks key to Harris and his plans going into the new season, and I can’t think of anyone who would argue with that decision.
Shane Ferguson – 6 – Having looked bright early on due to Hutchinson’s injury Ferguson was moved back to left back, and went on to have a solid game defensively. With O’Brien in front Ferguson had to be more alert defensively and wasn’t able to contribute as much on the overlap, and with Martin not ready for the season expect Ferguson to continue at full back next weekend.
Lee Gregory – 7 – A handful with Morison up top for the Brentford defenders, Gregory probably should’ve had at least one goal to his name at the end of the match. A threat as always on the last line of defence, Gregory’s movement just gets better and better, to the point you worry if Brentford are in desperate need of a forward before the end of August. You’d think we’d still have Gregory for the season at this point, however in football you never quite know…
Steve Morison – 8 – My man of the match, Morison continued on from his performance at Crawley last weekend and scored our only goal of the game. Looking ready for the season, the work between Gregory and Morison brings us probably the best partnership in the division. Despite Morison getting older, without Morison we suffer in our style of play, although he isn’t the typical target man he does hold the ball up well for the team. Which raises the question of how we would cope if Morison ever picks up an injury…
Aiden O’Brien – 6 – I’m a fan of O’Brien but not particularly in the wide areas of the team, O’Brien is very much a luxury player and against a side who may have full backs on the overlap we need a winger who would track back. It wasn’t a terrible performance from O’Brien, but I felt we suffered on the left side with Ferguson being moved to full back.