You may recall a week or two ago, I named my current Imps’ 5-a-side team, prompting a bit of discussion and debate on social media.
In the main, many of the choices seemed to be universal, Joe Morrell and Jorge Grant certainly two players almost all of you would have in a five-a-side team taken from the current playing squad.
It got me thinking; if you had to pick a five-a-side squad from Danny Cowley-era players, who would you pick? There’s a larger pool, even if we only use players from the 2016/17 season up to 2018/19, rather than those he subsequently signed over the summer.
After giving it plenty of thought, I’ve come up with my DC-era side, and reasons for each. How do you feel about them? I’ve excluded players who might be able to play for both, so as I’ve selected Bozzy for the Michael Appleton team, that rules him out of the DC side.
On page two, I’ve included two submissions for current 5-a-side teams from readers, sent into me a couple of weeks ago.
GK: Paul Farman
I know what got said about Farms towards the end of his time with us and much of it was unfair. His supposed weaknesses included parrying too many balls to opponents and being beaten from range. Neither would be a big hindrance in five-a-side, with players being much closer to him if he did parry shots for a start. Also, long-range efforts wouldn’t be quite as fearsome on smaller pitches, so for me, Farms gets the nod.
He was a good shot-stopper, he did have a good rapport with his defenders and he’d be a great personality in the team as well.
DF: Sean Raggett
I found this choice a little tougher than you might think. DC built defences that had lots of height, but in proper five-a-side, with a head height rule, that wouldn’t matter. Even without that rule, aerial dominance isn’t the method to success in small-sided games, so perhaps a smaller, mobile defender would suffice?
Then I remember Raggs’ determination, how he put his body on the line whenever the need arose and how he could carry the ball forward when called upon to do so. There as another defender I felt might have sat well in our five-a-side team, but I couldn’t have lived with myself had I not picked Raggs,
MF: Alex Woodyard
Woody would definitely have been a great man to have in a small-sided game. His constant harassing, chasing and hard work would fit well with the smaller pitch. He’d cover ever blade of artificial covering and then some, but he was technically a very good player too.
I think a good 5-a-side team needs a blend of midfielders, although nearly all players would be expected to cover both ends of the field. Alex could easily slot in further back when the pressure was on, but would help break up opponent’s swift attacks too. Personally, I think he’s still good enough to grace our current first team, but that’s another issue entirely.
MF: Bruno Andrade
Every small-sided game needs a game-changer. I think I spoke about a lad I used to play with called Ben Middleton who was technically gifted and could run a 5-a-side game and on his day, Andrade would do that for us here.
He’s a player who could rampage down the flank, but equally fill in across the front as well. With Alex and Raggs doing much of the dirty work, Andrade would be free to create and speculate in the opponents half and with a slightly faster game, I could see him being devastating.
FW: Adam Marriott
I know this seems an odd choice, picking a player who struggled to stay fit during his one season with us, but I think he’d be great in a smaller sided game. His lack of pace wouldn’t be quite as obvious, not if masked by Bruno supporting him, yet his close control and technical ability would grace any field of play.
Adam Marriott is still one of the best technical strikers Danny brought to the club. He was a better finisher than John Akinde and Matt Green, more skilled than Ollie Palmer and more mobile than Matt Rhead. Had he been fully fit and not carrying the burden of past injury, he could have been a City legend. In small-sided, shorter matches, I’d have him in my team all day long.
In reality, Matt Green might have been a better pick, but how could I not include Rheady? Less mobile than Marriott, he wouldn’t suit a small-sided game where you have to have the stamina to get from end to end, but he would be a tough man to knock off the ball. In my experience of five-a-side, that’s a big plus, so Rheady is on the bench to offer a bit of strength against bigger, tougher defenders.
Wharton? Over Dickie, Waterfall and full backs such as Toff, Bradley Wood or Sam? Yup. That’s right.,
I really liked Scott Wharton. He’s still got a big future ahead of him in my opinion, he’s good on the ball, can play a pass but had that fearless edge that would work well on Ruston’s astroturf. Seriously, for a defender to be truly useful in small-sided games, I think he had to be an allrounder and Wharton was that.
If Alex needed replacing, or you came up against a team which stifled the creative nature of Andrade’s game, then Mickey would be perfect to have in our squad. He was more or less the same player as Alex, perhaps a little more of a threat going forward, but very similar. I’d have loved to have seen them play the double sixes that we play now, freeing more creative players and building an impenetratable wall in front of a defence. Alas, it was not to be, but perhaps my fantasy five-a-side could see them partner in a Lincoln shirt after all.