Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
I seemed to be a bit out of line with my fellow Wrexham fans on Saturday, as I didn’t particularly enjoy the performance against Forest Green Rovers, but everyone else did. However, one area I found I was in agreement with the majority over was the performance of our lone striker.
There’s something likeable about Kayden Jackson. His enthusiasm is infectious and you could never accuse him of a lack of effort. His spirit as he battled away against Rovers’ big centre backs was admirable. In the first half, as we thumped hopeful long balls at him, he essentially got nowhere, but you could hardly blame him as taking on huge bruisers in the air is rarely the preferred mode of operation for slight strikers. However, it was massively to his credit that he kept plugging away at his thankless task.
In the second half the terms of combat were much more to his liking: we were able to provide a better quality of service and he used his pace to run in behind or at defenders. All of a sudden he was rewarded for all that fruitless first half endeavour and began to make things happen. He won the corner from which we grabbed the crucial equaliser, and nearly put us 3-1 up when he topped a direct run at the heart of Rovers’ defence with a shot which was only denied by a fine save.
Yet that was only his fourth start of the season, which seems odd. When James Grey was injured and Jackson wasn’t called upon to replace him, it was tempting to wonder if his work in training and the reserves had convinced the Racecourse coaching staff that he wasn’t to be persevered with. He’d shown glimpses of promise off the bench, but that sort of thing can be self-defeating: when you look good as a late sub, there’s a temptation to keep you as a late sub.
When he finally got his chance, at Woking, he did everything that could have been asked of him. His pace constantly sent him behind the defenders and, with their defence stretched, the Cards leaked chances. He kept his place for the next match but frustratingly found things much harder trying to lead the line in that awful team performance against Gainsborough Trinity.
Starved of service he was an increasingly peripheral figure until his inevitable withdrawal and remained absent from the starting line-up until the last couple of weeks. We would even have offloaded him to Stockport if FIFA’s much vaunted transfer administration system hadn’t been on the blink!
But now he’s getting a chance and looking good. I have misgivings, which in a way were summed up by that strong showing at Woking. He was excellent and caused all sorts of problems, but when he finally got a clear cut chance he blazed a one-on-one well over the bar. I’m not sure we’ll get a lot of goals from him, but I’m glad he’s getting a chance to show whether he can cut it for us.