A real positive from another intense week of work has been the fact that a number of players have started ‘knocking at the door’ in terms of team selection and options.
And with Brad Young and Manny Mampala both having registered on the scoresheet in Tuesday’s reserve game, manager Chris Beech said: “I said after the Hartlepool fixture in the Papa John’s Trophy that they both played very well.
“If anything they played better in that than on Tuesday. That’s because of the occasion, the pitch, our great supporters, and a stronger Hartlepool team. But they’re knocking, they definitely are.
“Are they available and ready to go - you’d probably say yes. At the same part we’ve got to make sure we’re all in this together.”
“There will be differences in how we go about different opponents using different attributes,” he added. “We’ll definitely be looking to score more goals and keep goals out of the net, that’s what our sport is.
“And for goals it’s good to see Jon Mellish looking confident again. He’s catching Tristan up, he’s on three with a couple of assists, Jon’s on two and he’s been part of others.
“That’s what you need, players doing those things, that’s what you try and achieve in a football match. You want to keep the ball out of our goal and put it in the other end.
“The more the merrier, including Jon, to try and be the frontrunner in that tally. That’s the best race we could ever ask for.”
Another who provided one of those assists the head coach was talking about was Jordan Gibson, who spun his man to put Mellish clean through at the People’s Pension Stadium.
“Jordan’s a player I’d seen play a few times,” he told us. “I know he’s got, a bit like a lot of the players we’ve had, like George Tanner, Joe Riley, Callum Guy, they’ve come from pretty high stock with their schoolboy early professional life.
“Jordan was at Glasgow Rangers. Things like that, you’re not at clubs like that if you haven’t got something different to the other lads at your age. Sometimes it doesn’t go quite right, whether it’s growth, physical things, opportunity to play in the first team.
“I’ve been really pleased with Jordan. He has the instinct to want to attack, ask a question, and what’s interesting is he’s aligned to assists and scoring goals which are vital in catching the eye.
“I often see players take two or three players on, but if you pass it straight to your opponent or miss the target, it takes away the edge of it.
“It’s obviously the high-end aspect you get paid more for if you’re good at it. If you can get those bits right you’ve got great value in a team. If you don’t get those bits right, if you don’t score or you don’t set your mate up, it’s vital your body language and reaction is positive, because it helps your team ethos, and work rate, and helps the team, over time, win a game.
“So, yes, Jordan’s knocking on the door.”
“We’ve spoken about it before, but it’s about all of those players selecting the right option at the right moment,” he concluded. “Sometimes the extra pass in an excellent decision.
“That’s what Jordan did last week and he set up a great goal for Jon Mellish. It’s about players making those individual decisions in the moments of the game as they come, and those moments are pretty uncoachable, because they occur when it’s at a the high end intensity of pace.
“You’re completely reliant on the individual talent and ability that player has to make it come off in your favour.
“In terms of how we want to represent the community and play, nothing’s changed, because we all want to win football matches. We’ll set up for that on Saturday while we totally respect our opponent.”