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Update From Graham Baker

Brian Caffarey
12:00pm, Wed 29th Jul 2009
I spoke to Graham this morning to get his reactions to last night’s game against Aldershot Town.


ALDERSHOT TOWN GAME

Not surprisingly, Graham said that he was very pleased with the team’s performance last night. He stressed that, for him, the main emphasis is still on fitness levels – in that sense he was pleased that, for periods, we had to ‘chase the ball’ against a good League 2 side – but he was also pleased to see signs of the team gelling. He referred in particular to the back four and to the midfield partnership of Harry Arter and Mark Ricketts. It was nice to win, Graham said, since a few wins in pre-season friendlies help to build confidence, but he pointed out that pre-season wins can be no guide at all to how teams do when the season starts.

Graham said that we’d been a bit ‘jittery’ in the first half and a bit too keen to hurriedly clear our lines. He knew that the game would slow down a bit in the second half and that there would be a bit more space, and the players responded to his wish to build up patiently from the back. He said this was the ethos he wanted to instil in the team but said that all teams need to be flexible and that sometimes it would be necessary ‘to kick the ball a hundred yards’.

He’d hoped to play Gez Sole in a more ‘forward’ role but Aldershot forced a change in formation in the first five minutes by threatening us through the middle – hence Gez had to be withdrawn to a more defensive role to plug the gap.

Graham was pleased with Sam Sloma’s debut, saying that it took him a bit of time to get used to the pace of the game but that he then began to show his quality. He commented in passing that we were fortunate to have several players, both right and left-footed, who are good at ‘dead ball’ situations, adding that Aswad Thomas is another player who can strike a ball well.

JON BOARDMAN

The news about Jon Boardman’s injury is very disappointing, especially for Jon, who, Graham says, has been desperate to play. A specialist has confirmed Steve Snelling’s diagnosis that Jon is suffering from a ‘Gilmore Groin’ injury and will need an operation, which is expected to take place next Tuesday. He should be back playing again in early September. Graham admitted that it was a big blow losing his captain and such an experienced player before the season even starts but pointed to Daniel Sintim and Joe McNerney as players who could step up; the team was also versatile enough to allow some switching of positions at the back.

THATCHAM TOWN

In view of some ‘wear and tear’ on the players who played last night, and with the game against Stevenage coming up on Saturday, Graham now plans to play against Thatcham the substitutes who came on last night plus Academy players. Rodney Chiweshe will also play. Graham hopes to get another look at Rodney on Saturday and then make a decision whether to sign him. Graham added, though, that it was important for Ross Worner to get a lot of time on the pitch since he’d had so little last season.

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