Five things we've learned

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Five things we've learned

Post by stillmanjunior on Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:12 pm

Frustratingly I just missed the Chron deadline for this to appear before the Gosport game. Nevertheless, this is something I wrote up, which might as well be shared:

Five things we’ve picked up from the season thus far…
Around a quarter of the campaign has gone by in a flash. Cup runs excluded, it could take until December for City to play another 10 in the league. Five wins and five defeats in 10 games is not the consistency Gary Owers would be after, and Mark Stillman looks into what could be gleamed from the season to date:

1. Owers still knows the loan market
The loss of Steve Phillips, an ever-present in goal for over a year, could have rocked the boat, but Max O’Leary was brought in immediately thanks to Owers’ contacts at Bristol City. Second goal against Oxford aside, he’s looked steady enough and is confident with crosses. The likes of Liam Kelly, Billy Murphy and Tyler Harvey galvanised City at the end of last season, whereas previous short-term signings Danny Barrow, Ashley Yeoman and Miles John weren’t given much of an opportunity before Christmas when brought in. The City boss has a good eye for a player, illustrated in his first stint in charge with the likes of Paul Evans, Chris Holland and Scott Partridge gaining legendary statuses after the manager had moved on, and isn’t afraid to throw them in at the deep end.

2. Ruthlessness
Jack Batten, possibly Lee Howells’ best loan signing last year, was a near ever-present with both managers when available, and impressed in pre-season. Following the defeat at home to Weston, which saw him substituted, he was forced to gather splinters on the bench for seven matches, not making a single appearance until he was part of the back four against Hampton & Richmond. Dan Bowman started City’s four-game winning streak until he was left out of the entire 16 against Whitehawk, with Owers admitting he wasn’t at fault for the previous defeat at Poole. Some could view it as unfair, the players might see it as an opportunity to work that extra bit harder and not be left out again. Three players have already been tried at right back, with the rest of the defence fairly settled. It remains a conundrum for the management to solve.

3. Concentration levels have improved
15 goals conceded in the first 15 minutes of games last season continuously gave City a mountain to climb. Those supporters leaving it until the last minute to arrive barely had time to find their preferred spot on the terrace before they’d watch their side fall behind. This season that has improved, on Saturday City let in a first half goal for the first time since the Weston defeat a month ago. It helps – City conceded the first goal 23 times last season and picked up 11 points after doing so. Seven were under Owers which shows a glimmer of fighting spirit. They still need to address a remarkable record which has seem them pick up zero wins from a losing position away from home in the league in nearly exactly two years.

4. The lack of a clinical finisher*
The defeats at Margate and Poole were easily avoidable. Despite having not conceded a goal at home since March, City had plenty of openings at Poole, but couldn’t put the ball in the onion bag. They were punished there, and at Margate, conceding with time running out in each game, yet in both still squandered chances afterwards to gain a point they at least deserved. Owers bemoaned the poor service on Saturday, with good reason, but needs his players to make the most of their opportunities. Two in two for Nick McCootie will help his confidence, the returns of Marvin Morgan and Andy Watkins in particular will also be welcomed. If the latter adds the goals his performances deserve he will be a key player.

5. Failing to take advantage of weakened opponents
City fans would have been forgiven for expecting a tricky test at high-flying, and high-scoring, Hampton & Richmond, but in the first half the team held their own. Then, for the second game running, a red card worked to their disadvantage. Against Oxford City, there were more than enough chances to win after this dismissal. At Hampton there were barely any, and the manner of both defeats was pretty galling. It was similar to watching the England National side huff and puff their way through matches, passing the ball around comfortably, but no cutting edge against sides more likely to defend in numbers. Oxford were strengthened by three new arrivals on the eve of the game, nonetheless they still should have been defeated in the circumstances. Failing to beat them in the FA Cup on Saturday, where the money is precious (for both clubs) won’t be a disaster, but certainly a set-back.

---

Overall there is certainly enough potential for City to become a force this season, and they’ve shown what they can achieve, particularly at home to an otherwise impressing St Albans outfit. At the moment they’re on course for the 60-point mark, surpassing the 53 in each of the past two campaigns. The last two years have been dogged by inconsistency, admittedly a memorable FA Trophy run in 2014/15 took priority over league form, and it’s something the City management team, and players, will want to address.

* further reminder that this was written before Gosport!
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stillmanjunior

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Re: Five things we've learned

Post by OliverH on Fri Sep 16, 2016 10:30 am

This is really, really good. Great choice of format.
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