I did the first two parts of this early on in lockdown and never expected that come June 3rd I wouldn’t have finished, nor would we know what on earth was going on!
I’m going to make a concerted effort to finish my review of the players this week, leading to our own ‘Player of the Year’ vote towards the back end of the week. I may even do a live ‘Player of the Year’ show where you can come on and tell me yours, and why. Who knows what will happen? Not the EFL, that’s for sure.
Grant Smith 5 Appearances
As we now know, Grant Smith has left the club, and in terms of reviewing his performances, it is quite tough. He appeared five times, three times in the EFL Trophy and twice in the League Cup. Keeping a clean sheet at Huddersfield was a decent effort and he didn’t look out of his depth as we lost 4-2 to Everton either.
Once Michael Appleton came in, Smith’s chances seemed to vanish, although it is debatable as to whether he would have played had Danny Cowley remained. After all, we loaned Matt Gilks last season instead of giving Smith a run and the Stevenage game still haunts me. I think Grant Smith is a decent keeper, certainly League Two level, but I was never convinced he was a better option than Josh Vickers.
I am also aware the ‘S’ for Smith is not fitting into alphabetical order. For some reason, the player list I used to plan these articles has him under ‘G’. I had already finished the article when I realised, so I’m just leaving it here.
Jake Hesketh 24 Appearances, 1 Goal
I think we did really well out of the loan market this season, but I can’t help but think the late capture of Jake Hesketh was a little more exciting on paper than it turned out to be on grass. I don’t like to be critical of players, but I personally didn’t see a lot from Jake that Jack Payne couldn’t have done. I’m led to believe we got a good deal to get Jake here though, but his parent club have benefitted more from his senior exposure than we did.
He got one goal and one assist, both coming in the game against Ipswich which we won 5-3. Yes, he played well that afternoon, but that leaves 19 other league games where his impact was negligible, to say the least. Whilst I’m sure some stats such as shots per game (1.28) and passing accuracy (77%) stand up against some of our other players, it wasn’t enough to suggest he has Premier League, or even Championship quality going forward.
He is one loan player I wouldn’t be over-awed at re-signing in the summer.