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Corby Run Out

By: David Wilkinson
Date: 17/07/2008

CORBY Town's ground is a strange place. Set well outside of the town itself in open countryside the game, played inside an athletics track and well away from the spectators, was little more than a protracted training session. But, then again, that is what pre-season friendlies are for.

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Town fielded two different teams in the two halves although I would be very surprised if Alan Buckley doesn't know pretty well most of those who will start against Rochdale when the season opens.

For the first half team Matt Heywood looked the part - big and dominating in the air and mobile as well. Nick Fenton (who played in the second half) must have permitted himself a wry smile having been, effectively, sacked last season for conceding sloppy goals when, inside a minute or so another defensive pairing (Heywood and Bennett) conceded a sloppy headed goal.

I thought Grant Normington looked a more than able right back and Paul Bolland looked a little bit more like his former self - strong in midfield while Jarman and North rarely looked liked threatening up front.

The most outstanding performance of the first half was from Peter Till who ended up being closely marked by 3 defenders as the game went on.

It is important to note that this match was different for the two teams. Corby had a point to make - part timers against League opposition. Town on the other hand were clearly more intent on getting to know each other and stepping up their training (an objective I am far from sure they achieved!). As such the result was meaningless - and would have been whoever won - but some of the performances were interesting.

In the second half the defence was not improved by Hope and Stockwell playing although the front pairing of Butler and Taylor was much more threatening. Peter Bore started OK but seemed to lose interest as the game went on. For me, Nick Hegarty was the "man of the second half" and he supplied endless balls into the box. Llewellyn will have to work hard to get his place.

However, having seen some of the post match comments, for goodness sake let us keep a perspective on these pre-season training games because that is all they are. Town weren't humiliated but the work to be done before the team is fully ready for the new season is plain to see. There is a great deal of promise, but the weak areas are evident. For me the lessons are:-

  1. The defence is potentially a good one. It needs to gel together and if it proves to be Stockwell, Hope, Heywood and Newey (as surely it will be) then I can see Normington, Fenton and Bennett keeping them on their toes.
  2. The midfield doesn't feel right. Till, Hegarty, Llewellyn etc may be part of the answer but we need Bolland or Hunt to be able to provide some more consistent strength and possession to take the pressure off the defence and spark the attack.
  3. Up front, Butler has presence and Taylor has pace in the attack but neither of them look like the week in week out scorer/poacher who we need and who I am sure Buckley would like to get his hands on.

I don't think we will be much wiser after the Oldham and Gainsborough games but at least there was a bit more method evident out there on Wednesday than there was in the Slade era when no-one seemed to know who anyone was or how they were going to play. We have been promised 4:4:2 and we have new players whose previous history seems to indicate they can do the job. It will be when the football becomes serious in August when we will know a bit more about our prospects for the season to come.

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