By Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips
Hi and welcome to another addition of something for the weekend. Once again I have been a bit sporadic with the column with being busy and work and to be honest for good reasons unlike earlier in the season, it has been hard to write something as we now look to be heading for a safe mid-table finish. I am back this week, so let`s go.
The week didn`t start the best with an away defeat to Chesterfield. I had heard mixed reports about our performance in the game, but there seemed to be a general feeling that with all the recent hard work and effort on the pitch that we were perhaps a little tired. Whilst disappointing to lose, it is the not the same concern as a couple of months ago and so with a game against Port Vale on Tuesday we were able to get back to winning ways quickly.
Compared to the recent home games I don`t think we were up to the same standard performance wise and again that may well be down to the work we have put in, in recent weeks. Having played a few teams at the top recently none have particularly impressed and when I got back in the car after the game Tuesday, I couldn`t believe that Burton were second based on what we saw the other week. They must have had some bad day as I thought they were woeful at The Mem. Whilst Port Vale didn`t really threaten us much on Tuesday, I do think they showed glimpses of why they have done so well. They did seem to get some joy down our left hand side and got a few crosses in which with Tom Pope is something that has worked for them. That said we dealt with everything well enough and it was only the final ten minutes or so of the game that we looked under any real threat as Vale pushed forward and piled on the pressure. However once again as a sign of how much we have improved under John ward, we stood strong and cleared our lines well.
Ryan Brunt is a steal, and if he shows the all round game next season like he has since joining us, well I think we will probably agree he won`t be here too long. When Tom Eaves was here (in a poor team as well) he did a job and you thought he would do well at this level, but Brunt seems to have much more about him. I don`t want to be saying things about being confident about next season, as it hasn`t done us many favours in the past, but if we have hold of Ryan Brunt I will certainly be more content that we won`t end up in a similar position that we were before Christmas.
Once again I thought Ellis Harrison showed plenty that he too could be an exciting and important player next season and in recent weeks Eliot Richards has looked far brighter and fitter and has showed his finishing ability. Someone commented (which I would agree with) that Eliot is better when he is instinctive as opposed to when he has to think about things. As I have said before Eliot has shown the ability but not always the work to back it up. Under John Ward I don`t think that will be allowed to happen and is what we all want to see from Eliot and any other player that pulls on the quarters.
You could go through the team and talk about the improvements in all, and in some ways it is unfair to miss many of them out. The back 5 have been solid and if we can tie them up we look to have a solid base as well as attacking threat from Lee Brown and (probably my favourite player) Michael Smith. Midfield probably needs some tinkering still, but it really is good to see some bright signs on the pitch and young ones as well.
The other big news on Tuesday was that the Sainsbury`s development at The Mem has got the green light and it is another massive step to making a decades long dream of a new stadium a reality. I am sure we all can`t wait to see it taking shape and finally being able to sit in it and watch our team. Now despite all the positives I do have one small gripe regarding the Season Ticket prices and the non decision of what the price will be after the end of March early bird price. I certainly think they are value for money (Price wise if not always for what we have seen on the pitch anyway. The deadline for cheaper tickets are looming and I would hope they announce the prices soon as people do need to organise their lives. Given the positive stadium news I would hope they extend the price freeze as now is the time to pack The Mem. If we pack The Mem in the next couple of seasons, we can make a good start at packing UWE when it is time to move in.
On that note I hope you can all get down to the game on Saturday to cheer the boys to another victory and only £10 on the terrace if you are paying on the gate and a £1 for concessions, so convince any mates to get down and show them the change in the team, and punish/convert your kids at the same time
All the best and Up The Gas!
Simon ‘Sprout` Phillips