THERE can be little doubt that Brazil’s capitulation in the World Cup semi-final is the big football story of the week.
Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to comment, having missed the game in favour of a trip to Winchester City to watch Basingstoke Town’s opening pre-season friendly.
My wife was certain that I would be aghast at missing such an incredible game when I got home, but in truth, I wasn’t really that bothered. The game was over after half-an-hour, and I had a good time running the rule over Town’s triallists.
Here’s a brief summary of what I made of each of them, along with what I managed to find out about them on the internet.
Name: Zaki Oualah
Who is he? According to the internet, Oualah is a half-Algerian former Reading youngster, who has played for Godalming Town and Uxbridge.
How did he play? Didn’t have too much to do, but looked comfortable with the ball at his feet. Possibly could have kept out the second goal, which seemed to beat him at the near post. A little on the small side, but claimed a few crosses.
Chances of him being signed? If Town are able to get Reading’s Stuart Moore on a season-long loan, it would be a surprise if they brought in a back-up goalkeeper, but he could be kept on the books for an emergency.
Name: Borj Camacho
Who is he? I spoke to Camacho to get his name on Tuesday. He’s Spanish. That’s about all I know, and the internet is little help.
How did he play? For a left-back, he was very right-footed. Willing to get forward from full-back, but Winchester were able to attack the space he left unattended.
Chances of him being signed? Camacho looked a fairly tidy player, but he was not comfortable at left-back, and Town already have plenty of cover at right-back, with Robbie Rice, Nathan Smart, Marcus Johnson-Schuster, Kieran Maylen and David Ray all able to play there.
Name: Sam Argent
Who is he? Argent will be well known to north Hampshire non-league football fans, having scored goals for fun playing for Whitchurch United and Hartley Wintney. Before that, the 22-year-old from Basingstoke came through the Southampton academy as a right-back, before playing for Hayes and Yeading United in the Conference Premier.
How did he play? Argent certainly didn’t let himself down. He worked hard to close defenders down, did a decent job of holding the ball up and, considering that he’s not the tallest, he is good in the air.
Chances of him being signed? There are a lot of strikers on trial and Argent is unproven in that position at Conference South level. He is a clever player though and it will be interesting to see how he fares if given another chance against better opposition.
Name: Shane Hollamby
Who is he? Another player who has made his name at Hartley Wintney, having played for Basingstoke Town Reserves a few years ago.
How did he play? Hollamby had a solid game after coming on at the break, but picked up a knock. Winchester scored both of their goals when he had gone off.
Chances of him being signed? Jason Bristow will probably be looking to add another centre-back to his squad. Hollamby will be hoping his injury clears up in time for him to get another chance.
Name: Romeo Agebane
Who is he? Not a lot of information about him as a footballer on the internet, but he would appear to be a model (see picture above).
How did he play? Solid enough and looked comfortable on the ball, but his distribution left a little to be desired.
Chances of him being signed? Similar to Hollamby. Bristow will want another look before he makes a decision.
Name: Josh Drew
Position: Right midfield
Who is he? A former Town academy player who has spent some time in the US recently.
How did he play? Struggled to have an impact on the game, but showed some decent touches.
Chances of him being signed? Town already have plenty of players who can play on the wing but he deserves another chance to show what he can do.
Name: Lloyd Macklin
Who is he? A former Swindon Town youngster, who made his debut for the club as a 16-year-old. He has also played for Torquay, Farnborough and Chippenham.
How did he play? Macklin was perhaps the most impressive of the triallists. He’s a strong, quick player but his finishing let him down on Tuesday.
Chances of him being signed? Town probably need two strikers to complement Liam Enver-Marum and Manny Williams. On Tuesday’s evidence, Macklin could fit the bill. Will be interesting to see how he gets on as pre-season progresses, but I’m slightly concerned that he was released by Chippenham after breaching club discipline.
Name: Chris Flood
Who is he? Crawley paid £10,000 to buy Flood from Salisbury a few years ago, while he has also represented Dorchester Town and Eastleigh in the Conference South. Ended last season playing for Winchester City.
How did he play? Scored less than 10 minutes after coming on at half-time and caused problems with his pace.
Chances of him being signed? Like Macklin, he could be a good addition to the squad.
Name: Julian Owusu
Who is he? An English-born Ghanaian under-17 international who has most recently played for Hayes and Yeading, Redhill and Chipstead.
How did he play? He’s big and strong, but lacks the guile of some of the other strikers hoping to impress on trial.
Chances of him being signed? Owusu was the least impressive of the strikers, but he was only on the pitch for 25 minutes and deserves another chance. Would offer something different to the Town attack.
I was disappointed not to see a big, physical holding midfielder among the triallists on Tuesday. Town need a player like this and Basingstoke fans may have been disappointed to hear that Matt Partridge had signed for Dagenham and Redbridge earlier this week.
He certainly would have fitted the bill, though I would have been concerned by his anger management issues.
I’m sure Bristow has a plan to bring in a holding midfielder, and I look forward to finding out who it is.
Carnage on the cobbles
THE Tour de France organisers got some criticism earlier this week, with riders crashing all over the place as the race took in the cobbled lanes of northern France.
I thought it was brilliant.
As somebody who watches the highlights of each day’s racing, I was glued to the television for the entire programme. Normally during the first week of the race, I just skip to the final kilometres and the sprint finish, but there was too much going on to do that on Wednesday.
From a safety angle, just as many riders crashed before the cobbled sections as did on the ancient tracks, with Chris Froome sadly having to abandon before he got to the cobbles.
I would go as far as to argue that there should be a day on the cobbles of northern France during the opening week of every Tour.
Rather than a week of sprint finishes, why not give the general classification contenders something to think about in the first seven days of the race? A stage where bike handling is severely tested cannot be a bad thing.
In a normal Tour, the winner is decided during a couple of days in the mountains and two time-trials. This year, Vincenzo Nibali rode brilliantly on the cobbles to give himself what could prove to be a crucial lead, while Alberto Contedor struggled badly.
It has provided the race with an additional element, and it made for great television.