9:42am Monday 20th January 2014
By John Light
THE lights may have gone out at the Grimsby game on Tuesday but perhaps they have been switched on for the rest of the season.
We have seen false dawns before but there is so much evidence the team is now starting to play to its potential.
The exciting 30 minutes against a good Grimsby side were the first signs.
We saw a high tempo Rovers performance with the midfield playing better than at any time this season.
The ball was moved incisively, passing was inventive and when the lights failed there were signs that Grimsby were losing the battle.
All of the engine room played well, but Al Bangura was outstanding. He now has the freedom to move forward and in so doing he is a real danger. Kelly and Norwood attack down the flanks and the experience of Barry is invaluable.
This quartet continued the good work at Hyde, overcoming the cloying nature of the pitch and stretching the Hyde defence right across the field. In front of them Hughes and Styche were a revelation. Their understanding is developing quickly and they were goal makers as well as being a constant scoring threat.
Reece showed a new found maturity. He stayed on his feet, was never in trouble with the referee and showed how complete his game has become. His heading was as good as I have seen it and his unselfish measured passing brought goals for Kelly and Norwood.
When he scored there was no celebration. He raced straight to the Rovers bench, thanking those who had done so much to bring him back from the abyss of injury.
There are of course still some rough edges. With Kelly and Norwood staying wide in attacking roles the defence can be cruelly exposed on the flanks. This resulted in the Grimsby goal on Tuesday and if winger Almond enjoyed more support goals could have come from Hyde.
Nonetheless the team is moving forward and now we can clearly see the Pennock way. There have been mutterings of ‘hoof ball’ and ‘the Stoke way’ whatever that is.
What we are now seeing is a basic 4-4-2 formation with the midfield flank men attacking at every opportunity and a pair of strikers developing a productive understanding. The ball is moved forward briskly and the width of the field being used in an effective fashion. It is far from a high and hopeful style. It is one based on teamwork, movement and a growing confidence.
I believe the manager now knows his best XI and can pick quality players to make an impact from the bench, as all three substitutes did on Saturday. There must be a special mention for Danny Wright who in a lively cameo showed how good a footballer he is.
Watching Rovers away this season has at times been an excruciating experience, matched only by viewing the Christmas Day episode of Eastenders.
Not so on Saturday. Hyde had just earned four points from their last two games but were firmly put in their place. Rovers’ fans responded in lively fashion. I am sure I saw dancing on the terraces. A good twelfth man performance.
Also spotted were two new haircuts. Reece was sporting a cut similar to that of Swansea player Chico Flores. I cannot describe the new look of Stephen Brogan, but can tell you a basin was obviously used in its preparation. SNJ Ash informs me this is a look young men see as cutting edge!
Will this be the kick start- the season needs? The players now know what is expected of them. The system is clearly defined and the individual players have freedom within it.
If a momentum can be built up and maintained there is no limit to what can be achieved. All matches are important but the two games to come against Barnet are vital. They are one of the teams we need to overtake.
I am satisfied with the quality of the current squad. Bennett, Hodgkiss and Stokes will soon be available to strengthen the defence and Hughes has brought experience to the forward line. A fit again Reece is the icing on the cake. No new signings are needed.
As anticipated few players seem to be leaving, on loan or otherwise. I suspect clubs are baulking at paying the wages of any players the manager wishes to move on. Not having sanctioned this overspending, manager Pennock must be frustrated.
A few wins however will cheer him up and us of course.
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