When looking back at last season’s title-winning side which two areas on the pitch would you say had the most talented players?
It’s a tough question as the side had quality in every single position, but if I had to pick two, I’d go goalkeepers and strikers, as I had full confidence in Steven Benda between the sticks, and the partnership of Eoin Doyle and Jerry Yates is one of the greatest seen in many years at the County Ground.
And sadly, that has been switched in this campaign as both these areas now the greatest concern going into the rest of the season.
The poor form of both goalkeepers is something Town haven’t had to deal with for many years as we’ve been blessed with some superb keepers in Wes Foderingham, Lawrence Vigouroux, and last season with our big friendly German.
But so far in 2020 neither Matej Kovar nor Joe Fryer has shown they have what it takes to be a number one, but that’s the gamble clubs take on loan keepers in their first season of first-team football, and free transfers who are returning from a potential career threatening injury.
It all comes down to the trust and judgment we have in Director of Football Paul Jewell and his success rate on players last season is very high.
It would be wrong to completely write off both goalkeepers at this stage of the season, they’ve both made some stupid mistakes but we have to trust that with coaching and more game time they will show signs of improvement and help Town climb the table.
At the other end of the pitch, there are concerns regarding the team’s firepower, as despite his nicely taken goal last Saturday Brett Pitman has endured a slow start to his time in Wiltshire and we learned last night will now be out for another six weeks.
And despite Hallam Hope playing as a striker in the past it’s clear this isn’t his natural position, as last night he looked lost up front by himself, sadly he wasn’t helped by his supporting cast as Town lacked that cutting edge in the final third of the pitch.
Hope has shown this season he’s a talented player as he can produce moments of quality with his two goals, but he isn’t that number nine we’re desperately missing.
Which does put a lot of pressure on Tyler Smith when he returns from injury.
Thankfully he’s shown this season how when given the chance he can be relied upon to put it in the back of the net, we have to hope he can stay injury-free and carry on where he lifted off, and according to the manager that could happen this weekend.
Despite our frustrating defeat, there were some positives to come out of last night’s performance, as a returning Tom Broadbent looked solid at the back alongside Matthieu Baudry.
After the horror show of last Tuesday against Accrington Stanley, it was encouraging to see signs of improvement just one week later, hopefully, this partnership will be given time to settle down despite Jonathan Grounds returning from suspension.