After nearly two months without a league win away from Wiltshire Town turned on the style with a superb performance against promotion rivals Port Vale.
Harry McKirdy was again the star man in front of goal as he set up Jonny Williams to put Town ahead after a wonderful team move, then the former Vale man was involved with the second Town goal as the home sides keeper decided to plant his boot into McKirdy’s midriff, conceding a penalty and earning himself a red card.
McKirdy’s form has been nothing short of sensational in recent months with his temperament on the pitch also improving, leading to fewer bookings, contributing to him becoming Town’s key player, and his combined total of goals and assists this season has now passed 20 with twenty-two games left shows how important he is to Ben Garner’s team.
After Town was awarded the penalty Ben Gladwin calmly stroked home his spot-kick to restore Town’s lead.
The former QPR midfielder has had an inconstant campaign so far, with some games completely passing him by, to last Saturday where he excelled throughout and looked somewhat the player that helped lead Town to League One play-off final in 2015.
If we see the latter of those two players for the remaining games, he’ll become essential, leading to an interesting dilemma for the manager as he has Louis Reed, Williams, Gladwin, and Jordon Lyden all competing for three spots.
Before this year you’d drop Lyden to the bench, but the Australian has excelled over the past month and doesn’t deserve to be dropped. The situation may sort itself out with Williams, Lyden, and Gladwin all injury-prone in recent years, but when all fighting fit, it’ll be tough for our Head Coach.
With Town having a man advantage in the second half at Vale Park, they never looked in trouble, then with 20 minutes remaining McKirdy’s deflected shot found its way past Vale’s substitute goalkeeper and sealing the points.
With just a couple of weeks left of the transfer window, it would be ideal to see more incomings before the Bristol Rovers game to boost our options, starting in defence after Romoney Crichlow and Kaine Kesler Hayden’s were recalled by their parent clubs.
Thankfully we replaced the Huddersfield man before he had left the club with Jake O’Brien, on loan from Crystal Palace.
O’Brien did suffer a shaky debut away at Mansfield Town but looked better against Vale at the weekend and will hopefully go from strength to strength during his time in Wiltshire.
So far, we haven’t seen a replacement for Kesler Hayden, that could be because Director of Football Ben Chorley hasn’t found a suitable player yet, or there is a possibility the talented wing-back comes back to SN1 this month, hopefully, we do see a glorious return for the talented youngster, as replacing someone of his ability will be incredibly tough.
Last night Ben Garner was in attendance at a Premier League 2 game where Aston Villa faced West Brom, he was possibly taking a look at striker Louie Barry who Town has been linked with for several weeks.
If we can sign Barry on loan, he would be an ideal competition for McKirdy and Simpson, maybe more McKirdy than our Ipswich loanee with his game being similar to the 24-year-old.
Hopefully, something can be done before this Saturday where we welcome Bristol Rovers to the County Ground in one of the biggest games of the season.
With Rovers enduring a poor campaign and Town now just one point from the automatic promotion places we’ll be favourites going into the weekend, but as we all know with derby games, anything can happen on the day.
But I’m confident of a positive result if we can repeat our first-half showing from Vale Park and have a packed, loud County Ground to push them towards a vital three points.