>If it’s August, it mustt be time to debate whether Chris Maxwell or his more experienced rival ought to be our number one keeper. In fact, that’s not true: it seems to be a permanent debate, not a seasonal one!
Last season Sam Rusell got off to a good start to the season, but once Maxwell took his place it was plain to most observers that he was the more reliable keeper. Saunders’ recall for Russell, who never looked as secure as he did before that unpleasant injury against Kettering, was premature to say the least, and after a costly error against Cambridge Maxwell was restored and Russell never appeared for us again.
Of course, Saunders would have liked him tohave stayed. Understandably, Russell turned down a contract in the summer; after all, why would a keeper want to play second fiddle to one ten years his junior? Saunders’ problem as he looked for a replacement was simple: that very question no doubt hung in the air whenever he spoke to a potential new goalie. Clearly Shearer would want an assurance before he committed to us that he wouldn’t be signing up for a spell on the bench at a non-league club.
Naturally he started the season as Number One, and enjoyed an impressive clean sheet on debut. However, he looked nervous in the subsequent matches at Forest Green at Eastbourne: edgy when coming for high balls in the former match and setting his defensive line too deep for set pieces in the latter as he looked to stay on his line as much as possible.
That led to the remarkable sight, half an hour into the game, of debutant Marvin Andrews giving him a very public lecture on his resonsibilities, with the rest of the back four chipping in. It could hardly have helped his confidence a great deal, and so he was set up for last Tuesday.
His part in one of Kidderminster’s goals led to an angry reaction from some Wrexham fans, who gave him a hard time both on the pitch and in the car park afterwards. There’s just no justification for abusing a player, and it was uplifting to see him bounce back against Barrow, making a superb save at 1-0 which kept us in the game and allowed us to snatch a point in injury time.
Equally pleasing was the reaction of the fans in the Eric Roberts Stand after the save. In chanting his name they sent a clear message to Shearer; he’s one of ours and we will back him. Fortunately, it was a good game for Shearer to rebuild his confidence, as with Barrow so defensive there was little scope to test the areas he has been criticised for; instead, it was his shot-stopping which was examined, and that’s his strong suit.
Dean Saunders admitted after the Barrow game that he’d considered putting Maxwell back in; no doubt the fact that the young keeper is unavailable at Newport next Sunday might have been a factor in keeping faith in Shearer.
For what it’s worth, I’m a fan of Maxwell’s and, like last season, think we’d be best served by having him between the posts. Furthermore, with his contract up at the end of the season we’d be well advised to keep him sweet or there’s no chance he’ll stay on. However, I’d like to think we’re the sort of club that welcomes players rather than shuns them if they lose form. The phrase “Cauldron of Hate” was used on the excellent Red Passion podcast to describe the atmosphere at the Kidderminster game; it was a tongue-in-cheek comment, but let’s not let it come true.