A comment Kevin Wilkin made after the 6-1 victory over Stockport intrigued me.
Naturally attention was focussed on his opinion of the beating we’d doled out to The Hatters and the comedy capers as Joe Clarke went in goal, but it was his judgement of Steve Tomassen which really made my ears prick up. It was just the one sentence, but it revealed a lot:
“If he takes his game a bit more seriously he’s got a big future in the game.”
Tomassen’s situation has intrigued me this season. Clearly his place in the pecking order has been in a state of constant decline as the campaign went on. He started it, as far as I could see, as our first choice back-up in both the centre of defence and at right back. He’d filled in well in both spots last season, and I thought he’d done enough to earn a stab at establishing himself as a useful fixture on the bench at least. A utility man who can fill a couple of slots at the back, and has played as a holding midfielder extensively in the League of Wales to boot, is a useful addition to the match day squad.
The fact that he survived Wilkin’s Summer round of cuts suggested he saw that too, especially as we seemed to lack cover defensively as the campaign kicked off. I think it was that fact which made his absence from the first team even more striking.
He didn’t make it into the sixteen for the first nine games of the season, and only graduated to the bench as cover when Mark Carrington picked up a suspension. In the meantime, Anthony Stephens, with one career Conference appearance under his belt, stepped ahead of him to claim a spot in the bench.
When Stephens went off for a loan spell Tomassen’s status still didn’t necessarily improve. By now Ross White had leapfrogged him and was getting pitch time in his two favoured positions. When Mark Carrington was pushed forward into midfield, James Pearson came in on loan ahead of Tomassen. He didn’t even make it onto the pitch until the last game in November, and had two substitute appearances to his name at the turn of the year.
But his third foray from the dug-out was eye-catching. Given a more extended chance against Stockport he bombed up and down the line impressively, scored a nice goal and a couple of times turned up in the heart of the six yard box, looking to attack crosses from the left.
Admittedly the game was won by the time he came on so conditions were favourable, but he still grabbed hold of the game and showed us what he could do.
Wilkin’s suggestion he should take his game more seriously is interesting. Clearly he is not a player that Wilkin has gone off after a longer look at him. Instead he sees potential and hopes to coax it out him. Doing so might be a major achievement as we’re looking a little bare at right back again. If Tomassen can step up and take the responsibility we free Carrington for roles higher up the pitch and our squad looks a little more complete.