Howarth's Way: Sloppy errors must stop but performances are improving
I THOUGHT our performance against Oxford United was a lot more like the level we are aiming to hit every week.
Oxford have started the season very well and are unbeaten in the league so far this term.
However, for the first time this season I felt we controlled the match from start to finish.
The fact we did not pick up the three points on offer was down to the bad habit we have of conceding sloppy goals at the moment.
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This will stop and when it does and we can continue to perform like we did on Saturday our points tally will start increasing much more quickly than it is at the moment.
The plans for our match were interrupted slightly with a bit of a defensive injury crisis in the build-up to the match.
On Wednesday, when we had planned to do a defensive training session, the only available defenders we had were Sido Jombati and Keith Lowe.
For one reason or another Craig Braham-Barrett, Troy Brown, Steve Elliott, Ryan Innis and Matt Richards were keeping Ian Weston busy in the treatment room. Luckily Steve and Matt recovered in time for the Oxford game.
Ryan Inniss, who had picked up a calf problem earlier in the week, had to return to his parent club Crystal Palace early from his loan period with us.
With Ryan no longer an option for us we moved quickly to bring in James Wilson from Bristol City on loan.
James is a player we have been keen on for a while but have never been able to get out from our neighbours.
In this instance, however, the timing was right and the move suited all parties.
James joined us on loan and trained with us on Friday morning.
He settled in very quickly and produced a very competent performance for us on Saturday.
We have another clear week now before we travel down to Torquay on Saturday and James will be able to get know his fellow defenders and other teammates on the training ground this week.
We have also this season had a few changes going on behind the scenes in our backroom staff.
Jason Murphy, who has been fantastic around the club for the last couple of seasons, has very reluctantly had to leave.
Jason's role around the club was very important. He was our DVD performance analysis expert as well as being our fitness and conditioning coach.
Murph was also comfortable on the training ground getting the footballs out with the players and delivering coaching sessions.
However, Murph's role was a part time position which suited his personal circumstances quite well, as he also ran his own business.
Murph had to spend more time recently in his other work, and coupled with the travelling time from his home in South Wales, he just felt he wasn't able to commit to his role as fully as he would have liked.
Murph's a popular guy and was very good at what he does.
However, his absence opened a door for other people to step up and get involved with the first team.
Craig Cope has arrived as an intern from Worcester University and his role is to help with the performance analysis work.
Craig is in his final year of studies and has brought a lot of youth and enthusiasm to the position already.
He is very knowledgeable on his subject matter and is desperate to do well for the club. Craig has settled into his role very well and is already a popular member of the staff.
Craig has been joined by Ian Hutton, who has taken over the fitness and conditioning work of the players.
Ian has been working behind the scenes for a number of months, doing extras with the players in the afternoons to help improve their physical condition.
He has also worked on speed work, among other things, with various players and has even produced an individual program for every player at the club.
Ian's knowledge will be invaluable over the coming season.
This week saw us finally complete the changeover to cover for Jason Murphy's absence. Dave Kevan, who worked with the gaffer and Steve Cotterill at Burnley, has joined the club as well.
Dave was coaching the Under-21s at Stoke City last season and has had numerous football jobs throughout his very impressive career.
He has worked at all levels of the game and has fantastic football knowledge.
He has made a lot of contacts in the game over the years and has the experience and enthusiasm to really make a difference to our early season results.
Dave has only spent a couple of days with us so far but already his ideas have been very well received by the players and staff alike.
Of course we were disappointed to see the back of Jason Murphy and we are very grateful for the time he spent at the club.
But with three specialists taking over his responsibilities I can't help but think that we shall see the improvements sooner rather than later.