Marcus Braddock takes his weekly look back on goings on at the Montgomery Waters Meadow
Saturday's win at home to Rochdale was my first game of the season because of holiday arrangements. Although I'd been quite encouraged by our home form in pre-season and the highlights of our early games, I was itching to see how we would get on against a team that had performed relatively well the previous season.
We started the game well and looked to go forward as soon as we gained possession, very few sideways passes in midfield. On the rare occasion that Dale had the ball, we harried immediately and most of the time we won the ball back and pushed forward. It seemed a matter of time before we took the lead.
But, we didn't take the lead and I began to worry that we may be punished for not taking our chances. The punishment came on the 17th minute, a soft penalty but the referee was given a decision to make and he pointed to the spot. I felt a bit sick as the net bulged, I hate injustice and although the penalty wasn't overly unjust I felt that Rochdale had done little to earn their goal.
Thirteen minutes later we won what looked another soft penalty, which Shaun Whalley won and slotted away. Three minutes later and we were graced with a goal that owed plenty to our quick passing. Alex Rodman supplied a beautifully weighted cross that Carlton Morris put away after sprinting into the box to meet the ball.
So, in the first forty-five minutes I'd gone through hope, injustice, a little devastation, justice and ecstatic vindication.
After half time, Dale looked as if they had been forcefully encouraged to put more urgency into their game. but aside from a few worrying moments they didn't trouble us. On the 63rd minute the referee, saw Toto Nsiala handle the ball in the box and pointed to the spot once more.
It was all set up rather nicely for our new signing to come on and save the day, which he did by being more aware than the defenders around him. He'd looked a worrying prospect from a defenders point of view, physically imposing, quick in his movement and thought.
I thought he started the game well, letting the game run and not whistling for every little thing. When he gave the first penalty I though he'd been fooled a little but he had more than enough reason to award it. The second looked soft at the time but again it looked a decent enough decision after a second look. The third is a mystery to me, but the ref is the one on the spot and he saw something different from his much closer vantage point.
Man of the Match
Some very good candidates all through the team. Defensively we have yet to concede in open play in League One, the midfield seems to have some very good candidates and of course going forward we have plenty to be happy about.
The names that really stick in my mind are Dean Henderson, Mat Sadler, Alex Rodman, Carlton Morris and new signing Stephan Payne. Payne, Morris and Henderson are easy to explain. Coming on to win the game after signing for us, Payne looked strong and committed to the cause and he scored which always helps. Our other scorer from open play scored his first goal for us after a spirited performance. Henderson made at least two saves that suggest he has a big future in the game. Mat Sadler exudes confidence which is massively important given the many younger heads in the team, Abu Ogogo does a similar thing too.
Alex Rodman has impressed me in the highlights and also on Saturday. It was his cross that Carlton Morris put away and he seemed to be a lively presence who worried their defence regularly. I also noticed that his movement makes space elsewhere. There are so many that could be argued to be the man of the match but Alex Rodman's performances so far this season just tip the scales in his favour for me.
The week ahead
Mens - Joe Riley continues his rehabilitation and hopefully should be back quite soon. Town have no League Cup fixture so have a rest from competitive football for seven days. Next weekends opponents are in the same position after going out to Cheltenham at home after extra time. They look a pretty handy side who already have a couple of clean sheets. They've also scored three goals in two games but have also conceded five times, four of which were at home.
Ladies - After yesterdays 4-1 defeat to Coventry United the Ladies team face West Bromwich Albion at the Academy Dome on Thursday.
Under 18's - Following their 1-0 win over Rochdale the Under 18's entertain Walsall on Saturday at the Sports Village in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.