Typical! Just when you think you might have found a solution to our need for goals, he’s whipped away from us.
While attention has been focussed on bringing in a central striker, Rekeil Pyke’s improving form suggested that he might be ready to play a major role supporting such a forward from the left flank. The arrival of a new manager at his parent club, Huddersfield, has brutally cut that prospect short.
Since returning from injury Pyke looked good, and if last Saturday was anything to go by, maybe his absence was a major factor in our dry spell.
The statistics certainly back that theory up. When he’s been on the pitch this season, we’ve scored every 65 minutes, but when he wasn’t we hit the net every 91. He’s our second top scorer and only Mike Fondop, Chris Holroyd and Ben Tollitt have a better goals per minute ratio.
Furthermore, only Luke Summerfield has a better rate of assists per minute then Pyke, and it’s a close run thing – there’s only 6 minutes between them. Pyke’s combined goals and assists per minute ratio is better than anyone else this season: he’s involved in a goal every 148 minutes. To put it another way, he’s either scored or set up 10 of our 42 goals this season, despite not starting 23 games!
His performance against Maidenhead last Saturday, in his first start since November, was an illustration of what we’ve missed. He devastated the right back with his pace and strength, linked superbly with James Jennings when we focussed on the left flank in the second half, hit the post, provided an assist for the only goal and went close on a couple of occasions.
His ability to cut inside and pose a goal threat from the flank could have become a huge asset for a goal-shy side, and he offered an aerial threat, and a target for diagonals, when the ball was on the opposite flank.
His bizarre series of back-heeled goals at the start of the season perhaps distracted us from the fact that behind the novelty lurked a good finisher. Certainly when Doug Tharme was commentating with me on the Orient game he spoke of his respect for Pyke’s ability in front of goal.
Graham Barrow search for a goal-scoring centre forward looked like it would be aided by the return of Pyke on the left. With a new thrust and creativity on that side of the attack, there was likely to be more chances falling in the box for a predator to pounce upon. Now he’s been recalled by Huddersfield, Barrow will have to restart his restructuring of his attack. Martin from Wakefield has a lot to answer for!