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Warrington Town 3-1 AFC Telford United - Report

A sub-standard showing from his team in their latest pre-season outing left Bucks manager Paul Carden with much to contemplate.

Paul Carden's side were beaten by his former club (AMA)
Paul Carden's side were beaten by his former club (AMA)

A calamitous opening 10 minutes set the tone for this defeat against Carden’s former club, and his warning to his players as to what to expect from Warrington appeared to go unheeded.

The Bucks were nowhere near the levels of sharpness and intensity that Carden demands; if any of his team had any inclination to regard this fixture as a training game, they were soon dispelled, as the Bucks fell two goals adrift within six minutes.

The first goal came through an error which can be placed, literally, at the feet of goalkeeper Luke Pilling; he got into a mess accepting a back-pass from Devarn Green and when challenged for possession lost out to Mitch Duggan, who won the ball, rounded Pilling and steered the ball into the empty net.

The next goal was less of a comedy of errors, but still came from the Bucks not being switched on to the Warrington threat. The lively Isaac Buckley-Ricketts located Mikey Howard in space behind left-back Brad Bood, and he used the opportunity given to him in the box to fire the ball hard across Pilling and into the far side of the net.

The Bucks defence had been nowhere to be seen, but they weren’t the only ones given to errors, however; in the 8th minute, forward Nate Blissett, who missed last weekend’s game with Walsall through illness, picked off a loose pass from the Yellows and advanced on goal to score past Tony Thompson from around the penalty spot.

The Bucks remained vulnerable to Warrington’s width, with Howard giving Bood a torrid time, and when their crosses reached the penalty area the pairing of Harry Flowers and Jordan Piggott were too often static to movement from the Yellows.

Pilling held onto a Stefan Mols header as he glided between the two central defenders, and in the 23rd minute Buckley-Ricketts did likewise; this time, however, he found the target, directing his header to Pilling’s right from close range as the Bucks failed to react to Howard’s cross.

Buckley-Ricketts thumped an angled shot wide when, with confidence high, he chose to go for goal rather than cross for Howard in the middle, and Carden stalked the touchline in agitated fashion, clearly unhappy at what he was seeing.

As the half progressed, the Bucks could, and probably should, have drawn level. In the 35th minute, Kobe Jae Chong could only steer the ball over the bar when the goal gaped, the ball landing nicely into his path with Thompson drawn to his near post and out of position.

With just a minute left on the half, Blissett won a clean header from a corner, directing it towards goal; Flowers powered in at close range to head powerfully and a goal seemed certain until a Yellows player hacked the ball off the goalline.

The second half proved less eventful.

Carden and his opposite number and former assistant, Mark Beesley, started to make substitutions around the hour mark, and most of the threats to either goal came towards Thompson, albeit mostly from long range and not sufficiently accurate to make him make many saves.

The introduction of Byron Moore and Brendon Daniels in a quadruple substitution did start to ask a few more questions of the Yellows defence, but not enough. With Jason Oswell’s calf injury still not fully healed, Blissett operated as a lone front man and simply didn’t see enough of the ball to cause many problems.

Green and Daniels both fired rising shots over the crossbar in the latter stages, but the Bucks couldn’t undo the damage of the opening stages.

Although a lot of the damage was self-inflicted, credit should also go to the hosts; their approach to the game may have been partly motivated by a desire to show Carden that they have more than coped since he left them last November to take the Telford reins.

Warrington looked as good as a number of sides that the Bucks faced at Step 2 last season, and having added to their ranks the likes of Thompson and Tom Hannigan, who both played at Step 1 for Altrincham last season, the Yellows should again be promotion contenders.

For the Bucks, only right-back Josh Dugmore was noted as praiseworthy by Carden, who felt too many of his team felt sorry for themselves when things didn’t go their way. Carden also pointed to the absence of Matty Brown as a factor, believing his leadership and desire to set and keep others to standards was sorely missed.

The perennial conundrum presented by pre-season games is how much, if anything, to read into them. With no more games in front of spectators between now and their season opener with Chorley on 6th August, Bucks’ fans will be looking to see a notable improvement on this display.

Telford: Pilling, Dugmore, Bood, Piggott, Flowers, Nolan, Ekpolo. Chong, L.Baker, Green, Blissett.

Substitutes: Moore, Daniels, McLintock, Trialist, Evans, C.Baker, Winchurch, Knowles.

Scorer: Blissett (8).

Warrington: Thompson, Duggan, White, Hannigan, Gumbs, Dixon, Williams, Mols, Howard, Buckley-Ricketts, Duffy.

Substitutes: Duffy, 4 x trialists.

Scorers: Duggan (4), Howard (6), Buckley-Ricketts (23).

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