Rams youth 4 Gateshead 0
I braved the cold tonight to see the Rams youth team record their first win of the season – 4-0 against Gateshead. For those who couldn’t be there, here a few observations.
Before I start, I’ll make the disclaimer that all the below is based on one match: a cup-tie played against non-league opposition in sub-zero temperatures in a proper football stadium. All factors that mean this wasn’t a typical Saturday morning at Moor Farm. Its intended to share a few thoughts and not pass judgement on anyone.
Here we go…
Does Mason Bennett look like Pele at this level?
Bennett played the majority of the game in a wide left position in what appeared to be a lop-sided 4-3-3. He showed glimpses of class in some of the simple things he did, rather than dribbling round five men every time he got the ball. Must have been frustrated to be isolated out wide whilst Thomas bagged the strikers goals. He was clearly “on loan” from the first team – after some handbags with an opponent, Andy Garner appeared on the balcony to shout “Wass! Mason!” and he was off in the time it took the sub to take his tracksuit off.
How about Thomas and Lelan, those who have been in the first team squad on occasion?
You can see why Clough likes Lelan. Very strong in the air, tall and leaps well. Athletic in build, rather than simply a big lad, I can see Lelan appearing on the bench again soon if we get a couple more injuries (maybe Saturday if Bucko is out!).
Kwame Thomas played as a very isolated front man, often battling against 2 or 3 defenders. Despite only being a first year apprentice, Thomas looked like a big kid in junior football with a passing resemblance to Kenwyne Jones. His touch wasn’t always perfect but now he’s playing professional football on a full-time basis, don’t be surprised to see Thomas make rapid progress in the next year or two.
How about the others?
Clough has mentioned Dawkins and Dales as two players who could push on this year. Of the two, Dawkins was the better on the night. He skippered the side and looked a tidy midfielder, happy to receive the ball and find a simple pass. If he can translate that to senior football he could have a future but will probably serve his time with the U21s rather than breakthrough any time soon. Dales was not too different in style but imposed himself less – scored a cracking goal though!
One to watch is definitely Max Lowe, who has recently been called up by England U16s. Although Bennett may not have looked like Pele, Lowe bore more than a passing resemblance to Roberto Carlos! Very comfortable on the ball and went on several mazy dribbles, one which ended with a shot against the post.
Rhys Sharpe also looked good, playing in front of Lowe, and after playing left-back last year has potential to be a left sided utility player that the senior squad has lacked for years. Still early days for him though.
Finally a mention for the goalkeeper Ross Etheridge. A very quiet night for him but made an outstading save from a penalty, diving full length to punch the ball away.