Sometimes, you just have to go
“You should get a girlfriend, Dan. You’re not a bad looking guy. You’re fairly intelligent. You’re ok company. Go for it”
“Of course, they’d have to put up with your niche interests.”
And so it is that we find ourselves at the heart of the heady environment that is the Checkatrade Trophy. I don’t necessarily agree with us being in this cup in the first place, but we are where we are. And if we’re in it, I’ll watch us. Circumstances prevented me being at the first home game against Accrington in this competition but I thought it my duty to attend this one. Superfan points on offer and all that.
Anyway. It was, in many ways, typical youth/reserve team stuff. On both sides there were a lot of clearly talented footballers but there was a glaring lack of cutting edge. Stuff that you can’t teach I suppose, though without being one of those “in my day” cockends, there does seem to be a weird tendency amongst kids these days to never pull the trigger from the edge of the box. It’s not all about Soccer AM highlight reels, kids. Otherwise Ravel Morrison would be the greatest footballer in the world.
We won on penalties as it happens. Bright Enobakhare scored a lovely goal, all about his tight skills and composure. Sunderland’s goal through Tom Beadling was a fabulous 25 yard strike which gave Harry Burgoyne no chance at all. Otherwise we played the better football without having a great deal of cutting edge, playing without a genuine centre forward will do that I suppose.
Harry Burgoyne: Had little to do until the shootout in truth upon where he made two saves from two rubbish penalties. No chance on the goal.
Aaron Simpson: Beaten too easily a couple of times but generally comfortable on the ball, if never too adventurous – he rarely crossed the halfway line.
Regan Upton: Bit of a clogger on first viewing and then injured towards the end of the first half. Hope he’s ok but don’t think he’s ever going to make it regardless.
Connor Johnson: Looked class at the back. Not exactly David Luiz on the ball but passable enough, has pace, big physical presence, definitely one to watch.
Anthony Breslin: Replaced Upton (went left back and Deslandes inside) and had a very good second half. Pushed forward well, did his defensive stuff well enough and has a noticeable turn of pace. Probably needs a Football League or Conference loan.
Sylvain Deslandes: Pretty average at left back and did little to suggest he’s a viable first team option there, even when it’s Mr Gloves occupying that slot at present. Looked a lot better at centre half after half time. Penalty missed in the shootout, too casual.
Connor Ronan: I came with high expectations for this lad and I walked away disappointed. Neat and tidy but didn’t really push on and never hurt Sunderland with his passing.
Christian Herc: Different story with this lad, I wanted to see something and I got it. Drove on from midfield and always willing to have a shot, a bit of a mini-Lampard. Needs to be in the first team squad very soon.
Nicu Carnat: Anonymous for the most part, game passed him by.
Will Randall: He reminds me a lot of James Henry, which is not necessarily a good thing. Tidy enough on the ball, diligent off it and always available, but not that impressive.
Morgan Gibbs-White: I suppose the comparison point here would be Lewis Gobern, there is something there but he’s a way off first team level at the moment. A bit too concentrated on his mad skillz at the moment.
Bright Enobakhare: Far, far, far too good for this level. This boy should be in the first team and used properly, not just token sub appearances. He’s got skill (check his goal when it’s up on YouTube tomorrow), he’s got strength, he works hard and he’s got game awareness. Occasionally tries to do too much but understandable given he shouldn’t be playing these poxy games in the first place. If we don’t give him game time over the next six months then I’m going to be very annoyed.
Overall, despite it being possibly the coldest game I’ve been to since Port Vale 1995, I enjoyed it and we deserved to win. It’s a crap cup that we shouldn’t be in, but I’m up for us getting our lads some decent game time. We need to get the likes of Herc and Bright in the first team squad properly.
And that’s your lot. I’ve been thawing out for two hours now and I’m only just about at room temperature.