Joe Clarke and Wes York, two players who have started every league game this season, both omitted from the starting line-up this afternoon. A new plan from Kevin Wilkin or merely an admission that his old one hasn’t worked?
Certainly the lesson of our visit to Southport earlier this month suggests that the loss of Clarke’s physical presence in the middle of the pitch might be a problem at a level of football where muscle is, if not king, then certainly first in line for the throne.
I’ve got to say that I feel a little surprised by the timing of the duo’s departure from the side. It’s reasonable to say that changes were screaming out to be made after the grim performance against Dartford, but these two weren’t the obvious victims of a cull to my eyes. For me, Clarke had a good first half against The Darts, being the one player threading passes between the lines to find the movement of Connor Jennings. He faded in the second half, but I admit to being surprised when he was withdrawn.
As for York, he got nowhere in the match, but I think there’s a reasonable codicil to add here. Dartford defended very deep. Meaning there was no space for York to run into behind them. Robbed of the opportunity to use his pace, York’s a pretty blunt instrument up front, but is that a surprise? Having seen how Dartford were approaching the task of protecting their early lead, might switching York to the flank and allowing Jennings to slot into the centre have been a better option?
York had a poor game in circumstances that didn’t suit him, which doesn’t mean he necessarily outfit to be dropped for the subsequent away game when he’s likely to have room to break into against opposition more likely to come at us. Indeed, if Gary Brabin recalls how the match at Haig Avenue a fortnight ago ended he’ll expect to go out and dominate us!
So is this a switch to a new approach? It doesn’t appear to be. Evans offers similar energy to Clarke in the middle, while the Moult-Bishop partnership is given more time to develop. This feels like a big call by Wilkin; it’ll be interesting to see if it pays off.