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Time to dish out the young Oscar

Inside Track | Published:

ONE of the joys of this job is seeing bright and exciting new talent for the first time – and such was the case at Port Soif seven days ago when getting a prolonged glimpse of young Sylvans midfielder Oscar Leadbeater.

Fast-tracked: Oscar Leadbeater is still a mainstay of the Westerners' Ravenscroft U16s side.

Now, there are plenty of sporty and footballing genes kicking around in young Oscar’s make-up.

His father is former Island men’s singles badminton champion Mark, his aunt is none other than GB Olympic badminton star Sally Leadbeater and, if you go back at least a couple more generations, his grandfather was a Muratti star and North stalwart.

Oscar had the honour of leading the Guernsey U16s at last summer’s Gothia Cup in Sweden and, from what little I have seen, I can see why he was made skipper.

His characteristics are of a hungry, determined, play-it-simple, highly energetic and enthusiastic midfielder and he did not look out of place against the champions at the ‘Soif’, two days before he was playing for the club’s U16s.

Catching the eye also was another Sylvan in flame-haired midfielder Ryan Baker, who may not have Tony Vance rushing to sign him any time soon but is a very capable footballer, neat, smart, hard-working and effective.

Then there is the westerners’ new centre-half Harry Southwell, a converted midfielder who is probably taller than any player in the league, rugged, combative and clearly quickly learning his new role under a coach who appears to be thoroughly enjoying being back in charge at Sylvans, despite the overall shortage of numbers out west.

Martyn de Garis has identified a promising young group of players who, unlike some of their recent predecessors, have energy and a focused attitude. I like what I see and if ‘Digger’ can keep them together, and replace the still obvious one or two square pegs in round holes, Sylvans have reason to hope for much better next campaign.

Staying in the lower half of the table, might I dare to suggest Bels and Rangers take a leaf out of de Garis’ coaching manual and, perhaps, tweak their defensive tactics and instal pragmatism as their top priority.

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Bels have leaked goals all season long – 70 in 17 league games at present – while Rangers, who for a season and a half proved to be so hard to break down, are suddenly leaking goals at an alarming rate.

In both cases, but notably more so Rangers recently, the colander-istics have much to do with attempting to over-play and build from the back when the personnel are clearly not up to it.

Mike Garnett is clearly a coach of experience, knowledge and the proper, best values. But I sense he, along with many other modern coaches, is too wrapped up in following modern fads which involve a passing game starting from the keeper.

That’s all very well when you have skilled passing practitioners at the back, but I’d stick my neck out to say there are precious few of those involved in the FNB Priaulx League, let alone Bels and Rangers.

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In my view, there is nothing wrong with adopting the old footy adage of ‘if in doubt, lump it’ if it is the best way to set up your side and keep the ball away from your goal, which neither Rangers or Bels are managing very well these days.

Get it in the opposition half first. Wayne Bishop would appreciate it, I’m sure.

Amalgamated bottom four XI: (3-1-3-3)

Lorcan Smith (Vale Rec); Harry Southwell (Sylvans), Harry Gallienne (Sylvans), Damian Larkin (Vale Rec); Miles Hardill (Rangers); Rory Moriarty (Vale Rec), Ryan-Zico Black (Bels), Ryan Baker (Sylvans), Ant Austen (Bels); Wayne Bishop (Rangers), Glenn Le Tissier (Vale Rec).

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
author

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