I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Devonté Redmond nail that superb goal at Meadow Lane last Sunday.
I was happy to see the amazing army of travelling fans rewarded for their efforts (after all, we got one point out of eighteen from the occasions last season when we took over 900 fans away, scoring just 2 goals in 6 games in the process!)
I was happy because this side is developing its confidence and starting to gel, and a second defeat in six would have been a blow.
But mostly, I was happy about the identity of the scorer.
It’s absolutely crucial that Redmond sparks this season. We have been screaming out for goals for two years now – it’s a narrative which has dominated all others around the club. Scoring more goals is not just a matter of bringing in a good striker however – though I admit it helps! You need someone to put the ball in the right areas for your predator, otherwise he just wanders around the penalty area, underemployed and pointless.
We’ve already got a player with a good passing range in Luke Summerfield, but he’s best deployed in a deeper position. If you want to see what I mean, watch the opening minute of the highlights of the Notts County game, when he saw JJ Hooper’s movement and turned the opposition with a long pass, or think back to the Halifax game, when he split the opposition open a couple of times with incisive early passes.
Ideally we needed a Number Ten. A playmaker higher up the pitch, able to find space in the hole and link more closely with our striker. Redmond has clearly been brought in to be that man.
So far his season has been fitful, though. He has been massively hampered by an injury which robbed him of a chunk of pre-season. Any player in that situation finds himself playing catch-up, both in terms of both his fitness and his sharpness. Redmond has yet to complete ninety minutes so far this season as a consequence, although pleasingly he got into the last ten minutes for the first time against Notts County.
Quite understandably, his performances have been patchy too, as he has been compelled by circumstance to obtain match fitness in public.
However, there have also been glimmers of real quality, and his technique and awareness are clearly superior to the usual level in the National League. Just look at his first touch, and enjoy his instinctive assist for Mark Harris’ goal at Dover.
In a way, his season was encapsulated by the thirty seconds before his goal on Sunday. He found himself exactly where Bryan Hughes would want him to be: running into space with players ahead of him making runs beyond an undermanned defence. He’d been signed to capitalize on such situations and deliver those killer passes, but instead he played a weak pass behind JJ Hooper which was easily intercepted.
I was building up to a rant about that squandered chance when Jazzi Barnum-Bobb got the ball back and found Redmond, who lifted a magnificent finish over the keeper.
Despite sometimes being a peripheral figure, so far this season Redmond has managed a goal and two assists in five games. That’s a good return, and potentially decisive in a low-scoring sport like football. If none of those goals had been scored, we’d lose three of our points and be 17th in the table!
So let’s hope Redmond is able to get into prime condition swiftly, and show that those moments of class were just a taste of what he’s really capable of. Our season might depend on it.