Update From Graham Baker
12:00pm, Wed 29th Jul 2009
I spoke to Graham this morning to get his reactions to last nightâ€™s game against Aldershot Town.
ALDERSHOT TOWN GAME
Not surprisingly, Graham said that he was very pleased with the teamâ€™s performance last night. He stressed that, for him, the main emphasis is still on fitness levels â€“ in that sense he was pleased that, for periods, we had to â€˜chase the ballâ€™ against a good League 2 side â€“ 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 weâ€™d been a bit â€˜jitteryâ€™ 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 â€˜to kick the ball a hundred yardsâ€™.
Heâ€™d hoped to play Gez Sole in a more â€˜forwardâ€™ role but Aldershot forced a change in formation in the first five minutes by threatening us through the middle â€“ hence Gez had to be withdrawn to a more defensive role to plug the gap.
Graham was pleased with Sam Slomaâ€™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 â€˜dead ballâ€™ situations, adding that Aswad Thomas is another player who can strike a ball well.
The news about Jon Boardmanâ€™s injury is very disappointing, especially for Jon, who, Graham says, has been desperate to play. A specialist has confirmed Steve Snellingâ€™s diagnosis that Jon is suffering from a â€˜Gilmore Groinâ€™ 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.
In view of some â€˜wear and tearâ€™ 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 heâ€™d had so little last season.