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Terrace Trash - October Editorial

If we thought this league would be full of shack like stands, ploughed pitches, missing or silent fans and mediocre football we were wrong. Although it sloped like the face of Snowdon the pitch at Blakenall was not a bad surface, and Bedworth had at least three blokes attempting a couple of chants. We weren't that wrong though. We're down to our hardest of hardcore diehard fans, yet at most of these places a murmur from the crowd causes looks of bemusement. Meadow Park being covered on three sides must cause absolute awe in some visiting teams.

On the plus side, we're comfortably in the top half and, David Seal apart, we've seen nothing on or off the pitch so far should shake our belief that we could go up. After last season scoring goals is still an exciting novelty not to be taken for granted - we've yet to fail score, not bad. Back in the cold harsh world of reality though we have to face up to the facts. Despite coming through against Evesham in the Cup we've lost against the only one of the division's top sides we've played so far in league competition. We've also already dropped a legion of sloppy points. On the other hand only the most partisan can expect us to bounce straight up without any problems after last season's trauma. The quality is there, but the level of expectation isn't quite fair. We have to expect this to be a two season job - while all the time hoping we might just edge in ahead of schedule.

A few games in and the side has already has a pretty settled look about it, although that doesn't mean all the problems are sorted or that there isn't competition for places. The defence is still a major cause for concern though, with a lot of goals going past us and too many late goals having cost us points. Cally seems to have decided not to tinker with his wingbacks system, perhaps a surprise given our weakness at centre-back and the options available to fill a four man midfield. Grantley Dicks looks good and shouts well, but needs someone young and sharp to cover for him at times. Even with three at the back we look exposed to both pace and high balls. Richard Moore has decent ball skills, but having spent most of his career in midfield he looks uncomfortable under pressure. His first game against Gresley saw too many attempts to play football on the edge of the area when an old-fashioned welly would have served better, his challenge to concede a penalty against Sutton Coldfield can't be discussed before the watershed. Danny Hunt looks twice the player he did last season, but if we could bring in any single player to the squad a commanding mobile centre back would be top of my list.

The last line of defence has seen a change, with the much lambasted Gannas finally making way for Ally Hines who has looked highly competent. Ally will have bigger challenges to come though, but he was highly rated at the Gas and should be up to it. It's difficult not to feel sorry for Gannas. He's a nice bloke and never meant to miss the ball - at times it has been like watching a Shakespearean tragedy as the man's flaws caused him to unravel in front of you. He could still be a good keeper but looks to be in need of a good rest cure to rebuild his cracked confidence.

City look sorted in midfield, with a good blend of the combative and the efficient in Chennas and Bungle in midfield. Although both can put in good passes it would be nice to see a little more creativity, so the continuing progress of Tucks on his way back from injury is a really good sign. We'll need a lot from him this season if we're going to be more than thereabouts. The great thing with the midfield is that we've also got depth for those positions with Griff, Jenkins, Gary Marshall and Kwesi Cairns all able to cover. Out wide on the right Kacey Johnstone has proved me totally wrong and has been a revelation, looking like he can get past defenders and provide width without leaving us too exposed down the flank. The wide left position is still perplexing me, with both Griff and Cairns asked to scamper back and defend in a position in which neither looks comfortable. Kwesi looked good there against Odd Down, but then he only had to go back and defend once! Griff at left back looked about as comfortable as an MP in a brothel during a police raid. He would be more use to the side with twenty minutes as a sub in midfield than all ninety at leftback having his inexperienced head messed with by the sight of attackers streaming past him on his weak foot. It's not as if we don't have options there either, with Wayne Thorne, Will Steadman and Grantley Dicks all having played there with some success. It's not something we've got right yet, but Brian Godfrey has a successful past record of converting player's positions so maybe Kwesi will yet flower in unfamiliar soil and I'll be proved wrong for the umpteenth time.

Another position not causing us too many sleepless nights is up front. Baylo is quite simply in a different class at this level. Cox is not the finished product, but his pace and direct running is going to create chances for himself and others. The real enigma is Matt Rawlins, flashes of great ability but already City fans are getting frustrated by his at times pedestrian approach to the game. Once Cally figures out how to fire him up without overdoing the temperature we'll be at the top of the table (yes, he is that good). Problem is manager after manager has had trouble bringing him to the boil and keeping him at a simmer. If Cally can do it he'll earn himself a well deserved manager's award at the end of the year.

September 2000