In Part 1 of our season preview Ed Dominic Roman and Luke Hunter give their verdicts on the men charged with keeping clean-sheets this season for TUFC:
GOALKEEPERS – Ryan Clarke Neal Osborn
LEFT BACKS – Liam Davis Kevin Nicholson (and Sam Chaney!)
RIGHT BACKS – Ryan Higgins Jordan Lee
CENTRE BACKS – Myles Anderson Josh Gowling Sean McGinty
Last season’s defence had plenty of wobbles, and the main reasons for that was it lacked experience and leaders. Well no more! Kevin has done some good business over the summer by bringing in two guys in Gowling and Clarke who have been there, done that. Those two should bring a vocal element to the team that has been sorely lacking, and help McGinty mature into the quality centre back we hope he can be.
I also like the signings of Higgins and Davis – two players who should give balance to the team and energy going forward. Too often the flanks were just for show last season, and with the addition of Lee as well the right-wing area could be a real strength – we haven’t said that for a while! The main concern is the foot injury that Liam has been carrying, I hope that knock doesn’t linger as the season progresses.
In goal ‘Mr USA’ Brendan Moore was popular but a bit of an enigma in goal. He was capable of match winning saves and also match losing mistakes. I think Clarke will be steadier and more consistent, whilst also keeping the back four in check.
The centre backs position is so vital to any team aspiring to climb the table, if the Gowling/McGinty combo solidifies things at the back we should be keeping more clean sheets. Back-up Myles is a decent option to fill in – he showed glimpses of quality last season and plenty of commitment. I’m sure he’ll get his chance at some stage (Gowling being the grand old age of 33 after all…)
In conclusion I’m more optimistic about our Goalkeeper/Defence than I have been for a while. I think we have upgraded from 16-17 and brought in a combination of experience and energy – and will also have a right back at right back, now that is a nice bonus isn’t it. I hope I’m not proved wrong, but for the time being its a thumbs up from me!
It’s difficult to call just who in our defence will actually play there at the minute, we seem to have an abundance of options. It would be fair to say any partnership between Anderson, Gowling, Davis, McGinty and Higgins will always be desirable at this level – obviously not forgetting Ryan Clarke in between the sticks, we actually have a back line with as much experience as I can recall for a few years.
Individually I’m really excited to see Ryan Higgins cement a place in the team. With the exception of our last appearance there, I saw him at Southport a few times and he always appeared a really classy player. His accolades with the Port aren’t to be sniffed at either and I’d certainly warn Gulls fans not to be discouraged by Southport’s position last season.
Ryan Clarke could be one to watch, certainly providing a change to our usual goalkeeper approach. I’m a massive exponent of experience in net and since the departure of Kenny Veysey, we’ve lacked a structure there that he might be able to fulfil that request. To add to that, I’m encouraged to see Osborn sign from Southampton; to not have a back-up keeper is farcical and this remained a box we had to tick. In addition, we can be confident we have some class with Anderson and Gowling; whilst McGinty and Davis will always be reliable and assured. A defence I’m excited to see.