The good news for former Premier League players turned Non-League coaches Jon Macken and Frank Sinclair is that they’ve still two weeks to get their Radcliffe Boro’ side up and running for the new season.
The bad news lies with their backline and the quality of defending that lies within. Opposition Workington, who will begin their 2019/20 season a league below Boro, ran the back four ragged all afternoon.
Set pieces proved to be the place where the reds found their joy, the place where Gari Rowntree scored his first goal and won the penalty that led to their second, all inside 20 minutes. Sloppy defending by Scott Metcalfe lead to Boro’s nightmare start and left a mountain to climb from the off.
A shame for Macken’s men, their offensive play in the final third will cause trouble for any team. The pace of winger Elliot Rokka, the presence of forward Ben Wharton, plus the creative and energetic midfield of Kingsley Williams and Prince Heywood should see Boro do well over the coming months.
However, the greatest cause for concern will be the defence. The way Workington scored their fourth goal, a quick-paced move that sliced right through the Boro side, ending with Brad Hubbolo slotting past Ollie Martin with ease. Leaving the former City player banging his head on the newly installed dugout.
Tough season ahead for Radcliffe
Radcliffe was a tough nut to crack in promotion from the then Evo-Stik West league. Yet with a tougher challenge ahead in the coming season, the coaching staff were left shaking their heads at which players will start the season against South Shields.
Workington’s manager Danny Grainger, named as a sub on the team sheet, has all good intentions of playing out of the back, although the old-fashioned long ball style was their greatest weapon. A double from skipper Scott Allison, first a penalty then a smash and grab second had his side in complete control that was simply too big a challenge to deal with.
This was the home sides fifth pre-season friendly in what’s turning out to be a long pre-season at the Nueven Stadium. Back-to-back home defeats with seven goals conceded – four against Workington and three against Bury last Tuesday- can do the prospective defenders including Leon Wright, Harry Winter, Lewis Lacy and Metcalfe no good. Nobody has guaranteed themselves a place in Macken’s starting eleven yet.
The old question of how much do the pre-season matches really matter could hold the Boro backline in good stead. Ahead of the game against Premier League side Leicester City this coming Tuesday, Macken and co will be hoping to avoid a cricket score, whether the Foxes field a first-team or a team of academy stars.
Whatever the magnitude of the game, shipping four goals at home can do no team any good for confidence, pre-season or not.