After the disappointment of last weekend, Scott Lindsey and his side had to show a response to get the Town faithful on side early in the season with history telling us a bad first impression is hard to shake off in football.
Sadly at 2 pm, when the team was announced the three-centre back system was still in full operation despite the disaster in Yorkshire. When the game got underway it was clear it wasn’t working again, as the midfield three were anonymous, showing zero attacking intent, and Louis Reed playing far too deep, not influencing a game as we know he can.
The over 9,000 Town fans in attendance also witnessed some questionable individual performances, it feels harsh to single players out so early in the season, I’m sure Ciaran Brennan would agree he had a shocking first half.
The Sheffield Wednesday loanee arrives with a glowing reputation from Hillsborough, and as time goes on hopefully, he’ll show what an asset he can become, but as home debut’s rank, it was one we’d all rather forget.
It wasn’t only some players who had a nightmare Saturday afternoon, as referee Andy Woolmer, stunk out the County Ground with one of the worst performances from an official in many years.
The 56-year-old was far too trigger-happy with his yellow card in the first half, as he ended up handing out seven yellows to Town, most of them never normally a booking, but incredibly this ended up turning the game in Town’s favour.
With Harry McKirdy picking up two soft yellow cards leaving Lindsey’s side at a disadvantage, we saw a change in shape, with four at the back, Tom Clayton making his Town debut, three in the middle, with Ronan Darcy also making his debut, with both recruits making a big difference.
As Darcy made an instant impact, looking to drive the ball forwards, as he never stopped running the entire half, it would be unfair to label him a Jack Payne replacement as that would put pressure on the young midfielder, but he certainly has the qualities needed to take up that role left in the side, he has to be in with a big claim to start in the Carabao Cup 1st Round tomorrow night at Walsall.
It wasn’t only Darcy who made an impact after the break, as wing-back Remeao Hutton looked a different player, taking on defenders down the right-hand side and easily beating them for pace, time and time again. He also has something in his locker we haven’t seen down SN1 for several years, maybe since Sean Morrison.
With Town now having a long throw specialist to use to their advantage, and a couple of times it caused problems for the opposition, I can see that becoming very useful in games as the season goes on.
It was also a day to remember for young goalkeeper Sol Brynn who pulled off some great saves to keep Salford at bay, they were all saves you’d expect him to make, but he looked impressive between the sticks.
I would rather Lewis Ward was starting as his run of impressive performances at the end of last season should have been rewarded by the manager and the number one shirt, but Brynn deserves credit for such a good display on his home debut.
Attention now turns to the League Cup and another trip to the Bescot, I predict we’ll see some personnel changes to give players a chance to shine, Ward in goal, starting Ricky Aguiar and Jonny Williams in midfield, Cian Harries at the back, and Tomi Adeloye replacing the suspended McKirdy.
It’s imperative the football we witnessed in the second half against Salford is copied and pasted onto the pitch at Walsall, we need to see pace and urgency in attack, which will lead to a chance of scoring our first goals of this new season.