Young, Goddard & Bad Pressing: 5 things we learnt from Town v Coventry
It might be a new season and Luke Williams has most of a new team, but Alex Cooke has stuck with listicles. The idiot
Jordan Young is now a serious first-team prospect
He may have the face of a tiny child but Young displayed the swagger and decisiveness of a senior pro in his short display. And by bringing him on in place of midfielder John Goddard, Luke Williams showed how he rates the young forward.
But, while it is tempting to think that Young of a striker, he didn’t really play there on Saturday. Instead he switched between being a second striker on the counter attack but dropped into a 10 role, when the ball reached the edge of the area. Instead of Young battling in the box it was QPR’s Michael Doughty who supported Jon Obika.
It was also Doughty who benefited from Young’s through ball to (almost) get a shot on goal. Oh yes, and there was Young’s brilliant shot too. Perhaps it isn’t Jermaine Hylton who needs to worry about the rise of Young as much as Ellis Iandolo.
Town tried pressing
Something lacking for much of last season was a decent pressing game. This wasn’t it either, but it was a step in the right direction. Pressing isn’t just a matter of running towards the man with the ball in fact, that can be the worst thing to do. Good pressing is planned, collective, and coordinated.
Against Coventry, when one of their midfielders received the ball facing their own goal, two midfielder closed in on him – a situational press. Except that no one closed either of the simple passes either backwards or to the side. This mean Coventry could easily find a way out, and ultimately set up a good attack.
In his post-match interview Williams expressed his disappointment with Town’s central pressing, indicating that he is expecting it (properly executed) to be part of this season’s game plan, also that he understands how it is often best done in wide areas.
First day nerves
Not only did James Brophy begin the game looking a little nervous, other players also suffered but usually in slightly unfamiliar roles. Jamie Sendles-White seemed uncomfortable playing on the left of a back three, his usually assured passing wasn’t quite so crisp having to go off the wrong foot. Similarly new signing Conor Thomas began the game looking uncertain in defending and unsure on the ball. However, he grew into the game making assured, early interceptions once he built an understanding with Nathan Thompson. There was a lot of promise once he makes his move back into his natural position.
Goddard is still getting up to speed
Town played in a 5-4-1 without the ball and a 3-5-1-1 when they had it. John Goddard operated as the furthest forward of the midfield and acquitted himself well. However, as good as the Woking man looked on the ball, he seemed to need a little time to adapt to the speed of the game and to those around him. It was a performance of promise rather than delivery.
What hasn’t changed
Anton Rodgers still isn’t loved
It wasn’t the greatest of performances from our most popular hate figure, it also wasn’t the worst. The positives were a few very good passes and a great overlapping run which created the goal. He even won a high ball, albeit with a high foot. The bad was his usual mixture of inept and/or over-zealous fouling. But what hasn’t changed is how he elicits groans when other’s failings were ignored. Just imagine the reaction if Anton had hit the two hopeless crosses that Doughty early on drove onto Stratton Bank.
Teams still come to stop Swindon playing
Like so many before them, Coventry came to stop Swindon. They set up in a 5-2-3 formation with former Town loanee Sam Ricketts in the middle of a solid defence, screened by two defensive mids. This meant that Town’s wing-backs always faced a direct opponent as their team stretched right across the pitch in a five. They were also a marvel of highly drilled ‘vertical compactness’ ie, a short distance between the forwards and the defence. Perhaps even too short.
A front three were used to make it harder for Town to play out from the back, all of which as designed to push Swindon through the most congested middle, right into Ricketts and friends. This meant that even if Town had plenty of spare strikers on the bench (and they didn’t) they might not have been much use. As John Barnes said, they way to beat them was to get round the back – and to pick out a man coming late into the box.