Tactically speaking – how the new side’s shaping up

Ahead of last week’s FA Cup tie against Havant & Waterlooville, programme editor Adam Matravers reflected on how this season’s squad is shaping up.

Five games in and it has been interesting to see Jerry’s new signings take to the field after quite a large turn around in the squad. The disappointment of not being able to see City in action live has been tempered somewhat by being able to view on stream and this has been a different angle at which to observe City up closer than is the norm.
The first thing that has struck me in the opening games is the technical skills and quality our midfield possess particularly with the arrival of veteran playmaker Ryan Harley whose neat short passing game has knitted things together and brought a calmness to the side.

Add into that mix the experience of Lloyd James and the youthful energy of the two Toms (Smith and Richards) and City look well equipped in that area. The return from injury of Frankie Artus will, I am sure, be welcomed by the management as he brings that physicality that is vital in this league.

Secondly, the crossing, touched upon by Jerry in his post-match interview after the Dartford match, has been of a high quality and a definite improvement on last season already. Callum Evans has produced some wicked deliveries from the right hand side and on the left, Freddie Grant has shown good technique with his crossing and it was just a shame that his wonderful late cross at Dartford that provided goal poacher Tommy Conway with a goal scoring header was ruled out for offside. City certainly provide a genuine threat now from balls into the box and in the likes of Conway, Hinds and the returning Donovan Wilson, they have the firepower to hopefully convert a good percentage of these, even if they don’t necessarily have an out and out target man in the mould of a Ryan Brunt for example.

It has been great to see the return of Jack Batten to the starting line up and his aerial prowess and strength have been welcome for City as they look to rebuild
a backline that has been so miserly over the last two seasons. Let us not forget he missed the whole of the 2019/20 campaign and his partnership with Robbie Cundy a year earlier was a big reason why City made the play-offs. With dominant young loanee Tom Leak looking assured together with the reliable Dan Ball, it bodes well for a return to those strong foundations that have set City in such good stead in recent times.

The early matches have pitted City with some tough matches and against sides that you would expect to be up in the top half of the National League South. At Dartford, although on the end of a 1-0 defeat, City applied themselves well and whilst the Darts created the greater chances, were limited to shots from range and half chances. Dartford are expected to challenge for the league title and manager Steve King commented afterwards that it was his team’s best performance since he took charge. City could easily have come back home with a point following a strong second half and if they compete as well against the rest of the league, they will fancy themselves to be again in the mix come next May. The pass completion totals actually ended in City’s favour with 296 completed passes compared with the home sides 292.

If that’s the standard to aspire to at the top end of this league, the early signs are promising for Bath City.