Supermarine 1 Swindon Town 3: ‘A Trialist’
No sooner had Brazil won the Confederations Cup final than the pre-season started here in Wiltshire. Town travelled the short distance to the Webbs Wood Stadium – formerly Hunts Copse until Webb cut down the trees – to eventually come away with a respectable 3-1 victory.
The match witnessed the return of my football alzheimer’s which always rears itself at this time of year. Massively confused by the array of trialists and new old faces, as well as twenty two Town players taking to the field, I failed miserably to realise quick enough who was who and put any understanding to my thoughts. That included many established Town regulars playing out of position, notably some strange decisions to play Paul Benson as a centre back and James Collins in central midfield.
With only numbers, yes just numbers and no names on their backs, combined with my utter resistance before the kick-off to take any notes when the teams were read out, meant some had to put up throughout the ninety minutes with “who’s that?” and “who’s that no.9?”.
In the end ‘that no.9’ later transpired to be Albi Skendi, one of the three trialists from Banbury United and of Albanian heritage. He was meant to be one of the fittest in early pre-season, but instead lacked any anticipation and acceleration and I doubt will be signed. Of the two other trialists from The Puritans, Kynan Isaac (I think) threw himself in literally with three comical miss-timed shots, but nonetheless made an effort.
The problem facing all trialists is desperately trying to impress having been given limited match time on a bobbly non-league pitch. It must be incredibly difficult to show in one or two matches that you deserve a contract, particularly for those who are ultimately fighting for their careers. In the end, they frequently suffer by trying too hard and forgetting their game amongst unfamiliar players and surroundings. I certainly wouldn’t wish to swap places.
The game at Supermarine was as it always is every season, a light run out and first full match so little can be read more generally at the state of our chances and squad. New recruits have joined in Massimo Luongo, Grant Hall and Tijane Reis who didn’t feature and appear to form the basis for a settled side as we look forward to the match with Tottenham Hotspur in two weeks.