Where will the goals come from?
Not an original question, but a pertinent one after last Tuesday. The chances Wrexham spurned at Torquay were worrying. No longer were we fretting over the ability to create opportunities: instead, the problem was our lack of bite in the box.
However, with getting JJ Hooper on the pitch seeming to be a difficult task, it’s hard to see where the player who’ll tuck away such chances is.
Which leads us nicely to…..
Will Oswell get another chance today?
When JJ Hooper was injured the first time, Oswell was handed a chance to show his worth, and he started well. Sadly, as time passed his form waned, and he hasn’t shown Dean Keates his best.
Oddly, it seemed to be when he played in a front two that he became less effective: traditional thinking tells us that target men like to have someone working off them, and in the closing ten minutes at Aldershot, when he was paired with Bobby Grant, the signs were very promising. Keates used that partnership in his first two league games, but they didn’t kick on.
However, Keates is surely tempted to make changes up front, having seen the chances we squandered on Tuesday. The problem is, his options are limited. Oswell scored his goals this season in the middle of a front three, and Bromley press quite aggressively, but their defensive line doesn’t step up as high as you’d expect, which can leave them open to the counter attack. What we need to counter that is someone we can hit early, bypassing the press. Someone like Oswell?
Will Shaun Pearson be fit?
Dean Keates has been in charge for seven matches now, but has only been able to call upon his leader and captain, Shaun Pearson, for two of them. While Pearson is perhaps a little reluctant to push up as high as Keates would like this season, he remains utterly crucial to the side, both in terms of leadership and his strength at the back.
Today would be the ideal point to see him return, and not only because Bromley are the league leaders. With Michael Cheek, a one-time Wrexham target and consistent performer against us, to handle, Pearson would be a reassuring presence at the back. Cheek’s ability to burst into the channels would test Pearson, but he has the experience to position himself appropriately, and Cheek’s physicality needs to be handled by a stopper like Pearson.
Will Luke Young have to be more defensive?
Dean Keates replaced Adam Barton with Luke Young as the midfield anchor on Tuesday, which brought a very different set of qualities to the role.
Barton represents the prosaic end of the DM spectrum, looking to break things up, sit deep and move the ball on simply. Energetic bursts up the pitch are left to others.
Young is not that type of player, and indeed you might argue that the central role in a midfield three is not for him. However, the midfield trio rightly earned praise from Keates at Torquay: they were aggressive and, with Young pushing them forwards, were effective as a unit when we didn’t have the ball, putting pressure on Torquay and moving us ten yards higher than we were under Barton.
The thing is, Bromley play with a man in the hole, and Adam Mekki is a consistent, clever customer. He has sideways movement and a good range of passing, enabling him to swiftly play in the three players ahead of him. Will Young be forced to play a more defensive role today, or will we see an open game, characterised by a cat-and-mouse exchange between the duo as they decide when cheating* is a gamble they can afford to take, and they let their man go?
Can Ben Tollitt earn more pitch time?
Was the moment on Tuesday with most long term significance what Ben Tollitt did when he came on? I don’t mean how he played; I’m referring to his actions as he ran onto the pitch.
Tollit was very animated as he sprinted on, passing information to the back four. Who knows whether he was told to deliver any messages: the important point was that he wanted to show Dean Keates his willingness to do his bit for the team.
We haven’t been able to get the best out of Tollitt this season, and Keates inherited a demoralised player. Tollitt showed his new manager what he can do against Saint Mirren Colts, but has yet to have the same impact in the league.
Keates is not likely to hang around as he looks to refresh his squad, and anyone not getting starts must be aware that they are in danger. Hopefully, Tollitt’s animated entrance onto the pitch represented a desire to show his manager that he wants to live up to his exacting expectations.
Tollitt is perhaps Wrexham’s most dangerous attacking player – he certainly has the pace to hurt defences and can both drift inside and tear around the outside. If Keates can unlock that potential, he’ll have a formidable weapon, and he won’t have reduced his budget.
*Cheating in the sense of not tracking back: I’d never accuse Luke Young, the closest thing we have to Mother Theresa these days, or unfair practice!