Decisions Decisions

To use the old cliche, Dean Saunders has a nice problem on his hands!

Having seen Adrian Cieslewicz consistently make such an impact off the bench, does he give him the nod on Saturday from the start? We all knew Cieslewicz had the potential to upset defenders, but this season he’s consistently delivering. Against Cambridge he made a couple of great runs, and although he missed a straightforward chance, the fact that he was there on the end of it showed that he’s causing teams problems.

At Bath he doled up a bravura performance, playing Pogba in cleverly for the opener and treating us to a fine piece of wing play for the second, combining nicely with Curtis Obeng before beating his man in style and ripping in a lovely cross. The way his sudden change of direction at pace threw the full back and bought him time for the cross was the highlight of the match, even beating the exquisite moment as the second half was about to begin when Bath’s bizarre pink pig mascot pretended to urinate on the corner flag!

His pace made him a useful outlet as we sought to run the clock down at Lincoln, and then, of course there was his superb goal against Tamworth. He’s been on the pitch for ninety-six minutes, and in that time we’ve scored four goals, three of which he’s played a major role in. The fact that it’s taken us two hundred and sixty-four minutes to score the other four goals we’ve managed this season might suggest that Cieslewicz’s presence on the pitch makes us a much more dangerous proposition – we score every twenty-four minutes when he’s taking part and every sixty-nine when he’s a spectator! Of course, it might also suggest that we simply are fitter then our opponents and therefore score late goals, and it is a little early to start number-crunching. However, no one could deny that Cieslewicz has enjoyed a fine start to the season.

Of course, the problem for Cieslewicz is his very excellence off the bench, By showing so plainly that that they can have a match-winning impact as a substitute he might just be ensuring that that’s where he’ll stay! Why start with him and risk his impact being dissapated as he tries to measure his efforts out over the whole ninety minutes rather than let him tear on for a spectacular burst against tired defenders at the end of the game? If you know he can influence a game in ths manner, why make the change?

I suspect that Saunders will be veering in that direction for the moment, and Cieslewicz seemed quite relaxed about the prospect of continuing to be seen as a specialist replacement whe I spoke to him after the Tamworth game. However, all that could change soon. Saunders is well aware of the need to rotate his strikers, particularly with Andy Morrell probably overdue a bit of a rest. With two games in three days coming up, will he try to make an effort to nurse the striker through both games by replacing him with Cieslewicz early on Saturday, or will he weight up the two fixtures and decide to start Cieslewicz in one of them?

It’s a dilemma which is made more complex by the fact that Danny Wright and Jake Speight haven’t hit the net yet. No doubt Saunders will be keen to give his new signings as long as possible to open their accounts, and he’s helped in that by the fact that both strikers have worked extremely hard for the team. However, there might well come a point where he’ll have to look at Cieslewicz and, if he can continue to provide the quality of end product we’ve seen so far, he might well force his way into the starting line-up.

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