There was a telling little moment after the Braintree match which said much about Leon Clowes’ development. We were finishing off the podcast and selecting a man of the match. Joe Jakub, the ex-Chester midfielder (but let’s not hold that against him – he did play for AZ Alkmaar as well, you know) who sits next to us and does the PA stats started chanting for Clowes to be selected: soon his chant became a chorus, and Clowes was indeed the man selected. In the space of a couple of games, he’s cultivated a fan club!
This little incident means something. Jakub knows his football, and the two guys I commentate with are both centre backs who know their stuff. When Joe, Alex and Carl are unanimous that Clowes had a good game, it’s tiem to start considering just how good he actually is.
Andy Morrell heaped praise on him after the game as well, describing him as an old-fashioned centre back who heads and boots the ball away when it comes near him. It was a neat encapsulation of the qualities of a young lad who has come a long way in a short time. It looks like Andy Morrell may have to call upon him to show just how much he’s improved again in the course of the next week.
With David Artell’s appeal against the ludicrous red card he picked up at Mansfield unlikely to be fruitful, mark Creighton surely nowhere near ready to start at the back in a play-off and both Martin Riley and Chris Westwood battling to be fit (I hear one out of two’s the best we can hope for on Tuesday), Clowes is in line for a start against Kidderminster on Tuesday. Indeed, at the moment he and Stephen Wright are the only fit centre backs we definitely have available.
As I’ve explained previously, I’ve harboured doubts about Clowes in the past. Fortunately, I’m enjoying being proven totally wrong. Clowes might not be Usain Bolt, but he’s no mug either, and as Morrell says, he has terrific attributes for a central defender.
He’s already shown he can do well against Kidderminster’s forwards, handled the big unit that is Ben Wright well on Tuesday and was outstanding in the two-sided Field Mill cauldron yesterday. There was the odd occasin where he got isolated against Matt Green by a ball which turned him, and he’s never going to be comfortable in those situations. However, he was able to lean into Green and introduce a physical element into the contest which allowed him to at least hamper Green: the prolific forward never got on top of him.
Clowes has coem a heck of a long way; let’s hope he can squeeze three more fine performances out of himself before a well-earned Summer break!