United boss Chris Beech made two changes to the starting line up from Sunday for the visit of Salford on Wednesday night, with Lewis Alessandra and Danny Devine both given the nod.
And it was another example of how tight the current squad is as Lewi bagged a real goal of the season contender with Danny scooping the InvestAcc man of the match award.
Speaking about the impact made as team selection comes down to how the gaffer wants to approach each opponent, he said: “Lewi will have been disappointed on Sunday, but he understands.
“That’s just professional behaviour – responding to being left out. He was excellent. He never stopped running and led the line as a striker.
“He’s good friends with Ian Henderson, they both played for Rochdale at the same time, I said to him if you get in front and have a better game than Hendo, you’ll be on the right end of possibly goals and points.
“Unfortunately for Ian he got injured challenging one of our defenders, who just stood strong. I hope Ian’s good, but I’m really pleased Lewi played ever so well, and what a great goal. I think that’s his fourth goal, he’s set others up as well, so well done Lewi.”
On an excellent individual display from Devine, who could easily have sulked having had to wait so patiently for his first league start, he commented: “You’ll have to interview him, I don’t know when he’s sulking or happy, he has no heartbeat, Danny.
“He’s very hard to read. I said ‘you’re playing tomorrow’. He said thanks gaffer and went out of the room. I knew he’d do really well. His driving, his second balls … I said you’re a right footed Jon Mellish, let’s have a look at it.
“He did and it was worth doing, because we’ve got what we deserved – our win. Danny has been excellent against Aston Villa, really good against Fleetwood in a reserve game. I rewarded Jon Mellish last season for doing that against Kendal and his career and life’s changed for it, so you have to make sure that’s available to everybody, because in a workforce you feel you have fairness and have extra competitiveness and drive, not just for themselves but their team – it’s not mine, it’s theirs.
“It was a difficult decision with Joe Riley as well because he’s done nothing wrong. I explained that to him. Credit to him because he came on and helped us to make sure we sealed the win.”
“To be fair to Danny, he was a bit of a Rolls Royce, strong, quick and he’s starting to show more aggression,” he added. “Because of that he’s got his reward. Joe Riley was completely supportive of it.
“He’s in the changing room wishing everybody well before the game. I said to the lads straight away after the game – well done to the three substitutes. They helped us and it’s not what we’ve had maybe at Tranmere or previous games when players have come on.
“I had big conversations this week to make sure we support the main part of the meal, which the lads did.”
With every player showing they’re ready at every opportunity they’re given we wondered if it was giving the manager additional selection headaches.
“Yes, but we play different opponents with different strengths so we have to be adaptable," he insisted. "We can’t purchase or invest or even finance, in terms of wages, the best players in the league, so we have to try and make them the best of what we can be.
“That will be by dealing with differences in team selection and how we try to win a game. One thing all the boys are doing, including the reserves – well, not the reserves, the other games we play, nobody likes being called a reserve any more – and the youth team, they’re representing the club traits of hard work, honesty, hard, honest miles.
“I asked for some intelligent energy tonight and we’ve seen that. With a bit more luck we could have made that a lot more comfortable. I don’t know how the guy kept the ball out of the net from Aaron Hayden, but he did.”
“It means I have real selection problems, but isn’t that good,” he concluded. “It’s better than being five points off the relegation zone and having to think about how we stop losing games.
“I have miles better things to think about, it’s as simple as that.”
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