The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Growing pains

20 November 2020

After another hiatus from the league, town are back in division four action tomorrow, their first game of a tumultuous run before the end of 2020. Town's first 10 league games have spanned 70 days, with their next 11 coming in just 39. And that's with a free weekend next week.

We seem no closer to getting a settled team playing in a recognised style. It is true that the boss has tried to blend youth and experience and Thunderdiary thinks he should be commended for the average age of his teams so far: 24.6. Only Scunthorpe have a lower average age in our division, with just five more of the Football League having younger XIs. This should be considered a longer-term strategy, with hopefully some of that youth growing together. A look at the average ages of the teams of the current leaders of each division - Leicester 26.8, Reading 25.4, Peterborough 25.8 and Newport 26 - proves that a bit more nous on the field pays dividends.

Tomorrow's opponents Tranmere have plenty of that, the average age of their team being 29. They will be buoyed by last week's late comeback and Town may have to utilise every aspect of their squad, including five substitutes if necessary.

This rule change will only benefit the clubs with stronger squads but used correctly, subs can have a big impact, just like Billy Clarke in his debut at Orient last season. It got me thinking about substitutes and Town, with Marc North’s Middlesbrough magic being a pertinent memory, Keith Alexander’s three consecutive games as a scoring substitute in early 1990 and Peter Bore's explosion onto the scene against Boston in 2006. I'm sure there are more.

Changes can win or not win games (Parslow being a case in point) and you feel that Holloway hasn't always got the best out of his tactical subs. Let's see if one of his young guns leap from the bench can fire in the winner against the ageing backline tomorrow.