Tileless Jones Shines on the Road

Managers generally don’t like picking individuals out after a good performance and I can see why. If the whole team has done its bit, why single someone out at everybody else’s expense?

There were certainly plenty of fantastic performers in a Wrexham shirt last week: to have five different scorers in an away game is remarkable; to follow that up four days later with six players hitting the net is crazy.

Travelling up to Yorkshire, down to Hampshire and across to East Anglia in 8 days was always going to be gruelling, but the team excelled. The loss at League Two Harrogate was unfortunate, the victories at Aldershot and Kings Lynn emphatic.

The whole squad contributed to those achievements, and the remarkable difference in atmosphere it has sparked at the club, but I want to single a player out, despite all my instincts to spread the love.

James Jones was superb in all three games. He certainly wasn’t the only one, but he deserves some personal credit for his efforts.

Jones was an eye-catching signing, the last of the impressive quartet of captures from two divisions higher which we pulled off in the closing weeks of the Summer transfer window.

He immediately showed his quality: he put in an excellent shift at Eastleigh on debut, and followed that up with a similar effort at home to Notts County.

Indeed, he scored a magnificent long range goal against The Magpies which was disallowed because Jake Hyde was wrongly adjudged to be offside as he laid the ball off.

James Jones lashes the ball home, but the flag has been raised.

Jones’ influence waned as the side seemed to lose direction though. A wobble in form saw us bypass the middle of the pitch in a desperate attempt to get the ball to our potent strike force, and Jones’ ability to make a difference suffered as a result.

When the poor performance at Marine led to a change of formation, Jones was one of the casualties, dropped to the bench as we reduced the number of central midfielders we were fielding.

He returned to the starting line-up three games later, and was one of our better players in the frustrating draw with Torquay, but over the last week he has undoubtedly returned to his best.

The switch back to three in the middle of the park has suited him, and his tireless running to the right of Luke Young is a key part of both our strategy for getting the ball forwards and our ability to press in the opposing half.

That Torquay match seemed to be a clear example of a side tiring as the game wore on, exhausted by the hyperactive pressing which had allowed us to dominate the opening hour.

Perhaps Jones’ fourteen-day absence from the starting line-up contributed to that problem, as he looked to get that sharpness of playing 90 minutes back into his legs.

He’s certainly shown that sharpness in the past week, and there can be no clearer evidence than the final two goals at Kings Lynn.

At the end of a gruelling week, containing three matches and miles of travelling, he was still full of energy.

In the ninetieth minute he won the ball in the opposing penalty area and handed Dan Jarvis an open goal, and five minutes later he won three challenges in the opposing area, the third of which allowed Jordan Ponticelli to tee up Cameron Green’s goal.

Jones’ stamina is remarkable, but please don’t get the impression that he only contributes hard work and energy.

Jones has quality on the ball, and the highlight of a glorious week was possibly his assist for Ponticelli’s goal at Aldershot.

Receiving the ball deep in his own half, he accelerated down the right, beating his man by audaciously flicking the ball over his head and racing past him.

With Jarvis making a run which blocked his path down the flank but dragged a defender wide, Jones looked up and pinged a perfect ball to the edge of the area, where Ponticelli took a perfect touch before sweeping a glorious finish into the top right corner.

It was a regal goal, created by a resurgent midfield force who could make a massive contribution to the rest of our season.

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