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Five Things: Shrewsbury Town 0-1 Bolton Wanderers

My five talking points from our 0-1 victory against Shrewsbury Town

Shrewsbury Town v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One
John with Nathanael Ogbeta: Swap?
Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Dapo does it again

Dapo has reacted about as well as a player can to being benched against Ipswich Town. A goal late on during that game and an assist late on in this one. Our decent form at the beginning of the season was almost completely dependent on Dapo playing well and it appears that the same is true for this recent resurgence. His impact was felt at the other end of the pitch as well which was typified by a lung busting run to block a cross in extra time. Whilst he probably warranted a couple of weeks on the bench due to his recent form the last two weeks will make it a struggle to justify him staying there. He could easily start as a striker (read my previous article) or he could play in the attacking midfield role he did against Shrewsbury. We’re very lucky to have him.

Feeling out the formation

Two wins in the two games since we changed formation make the 5-3-2 formation look like a winning tactic on paper. Whilst it may be our best formation for the players we have at the moment there is a feeling that the 100% record that this formation enjoys isn’t reflective of how well we’re playing whilst using it. Certainly we seemed to struggle for great chunks of the game and appeared unable to deal with Shrewsbury in the first half. The extra man at the back and width provided by the wingbacks makes it too easy to pass across the back line rather than looking for a forward pass and the middle looked a little overwhelmed at times. With that said it is a new shape and it will take time for the team to adjust and get to grips with it. I do look forward to seeing if we can make it work although I suspect will will have to move back to the previous formation at some point. We invested heavily in to the positions that formation allows you to play and I can’t imagine wanting to keep so many of those players on the bench.

Looking at left-back

Whilst I don’t think anyone particularly struggled yesterday it was very apparent that Shrewsbury were targeting our left side. The space behind John was the focal point for their attacks and although the Welshman wasn’t helped as much as he should have been I do have concerns about him being our first choice left back. In this league he appears to be below average defensively and whilst he can be brilliant going forward this is too seldom seen. I would actually rather Gordon start who I don’t think is very far off John in terms of quality but a bit more consistent. Regardless who starts it’s unquestionably weaker than the right and needs addressing.

Enter Shrewsbury’s left back, Nathanael Ogbeta. The lad looked brilliant yesterday and would be an absolutely perfect fit for our type of team. He impressed enough to warrant a google during the match and it was very interesting reading: Only 20, spent his youth in the Manchester City academy, from Salford, an England youth international. The clincher is that he only had 6 months left on his current deal. If we’re still paying cash for these types of deals I’d be prioritising this lad over another attacking player. Really impressed.

What a goal. What a player

I assume you’ve all seen the Dion Charles goal by now, if you haven’t go and do so. It was a wonderful goal from a really impressive player. You can see him improving with every game as the rust diminishes and the sharpness returns. He’s the first Wanderers striker in years that I feel could be one of the best strikers in the league. That’s no disrespect to Doyle who did score a hatful last year but it’s apparent that Charles has so much to his game. Aggression, strength, pace and he can carry the ball well. I’m really excited to see how his career pans out with us.

Well timed form

It has been grim these last few months but if this is to be the start of a purple patch of form we’ve picked a great time for it. There are nine games between now and the end of February and come the end of it the table will be shaping up for who the runners and riders will be during the end of the season. We have players returning and getting fitter every week. Who knows what could happen if we make February count?