Five things we saw during Potters Bar Town’s win over Carshalton Athletic at the Pakex Stadium
PUBLISHED: 06:47 11 August 2019
In a new feature Potters Bar Edition’s Neil Metcalfe reflects and analyses the matches he gets to see. Saturday afternoon his eyes were on the Pakex Stadium as Potters Bar Town opened their Isthmian League season with a 2-0 win over Carshalton Athletic. This was what he decided.
1) The Pakex Stadium - Last year was a tough one off the pitch for the Scholars. The summer-long scorching weather took its toll on a surface never given the chance to recover from a wet winter.
It wasn't in the best shape all year but thanks to a huge amount of work during this off-season the pitch was looking in superb condition.
It is just part one of a three-year plan this will only work in the club's favour. If you can't attract the players with the wages, then a carpet-like surface is the next big thing.
But the whole ground is looking better.
The two new stands have only added to the surroundings and with new nets, new dugouts, the revamped changing rooms and clubhouse and suddenly Potters Bar Town is becoming an attractive place to go to or to play your football, whether you're a fan or a player. Huge chapeau to all involved.
2) Hard-working team - Being a Geordie it's perhaps not to much of a surprise to say this but give me 11 players who will graft for the badge over a team of fancy dans every day.
Don't get me wrong, this Potters Bar team have plenty of ability on the ball but they showed more than enough desire to break things up when Carshalton had it.
Take George Nicholas for example. He was brought in as a flair player but his work in a deeper midfield role gave the back four supreme protection. Unseen at times but he worked his socks off, snapping into tackles and thumping the ball clear when it needed to be.
Attitude is king in any sport. If you are willing to work for your mates, you will go far as a team.
This was one hugely impressive aspect from all in the maroon shirts in what was a hugely impressive overall performance.
3) Partnerships all over the park - Whether it was the centre-back pairing of James Budden or George Quarrington-Carter or the front two of Josh Hutchinson and Brad Sach, Bar had pairings all over the park that just clicked.
There are players on the bench and even out of the side who can fit in if needed and you wouldn't expect the dynamic of the team to fall.
I was impressed with both ends of the pitch with the midfield not too shabby either. Very promising start.
4) Lee O'Leary - What a difference a few months make. Given sole charge after Scott Cousins decided to step down from the joint-manager role, O'Leary has thrown himself into the role with gusto. He's been heavily involved with Adam Waller in getting the pitch sorted and he's been a driving force too in sprucing up the place.
He hasn't taken his eye off the ball with regards to team affairs either. He's recruited a side in his own image, hard-working and ready to fight for the shirt.
Make no bones about it, this is now his club and it is clear he is loving every minute of it and removed from the threat of relegation he looks a lot more relaxed too.
(On a side note great to see Scottty Cuz down there too, with new baby. There's another man who looks a lot more relaxed and happy.)
5) Safe by Christmas? - Well, that might be pushing it but the overriding feeling heading back home was this is a much more solid side, physically, mentally and in a football sense too.
Yes, you can say Carshalton didn't offer a great deal and obviously they lost their keeper before the half-hour but you got the impression that the reason for the visitors' poor display was more to do with Potters Bar's all-action efforts than the Robins' own lethargy or misfortune.
This Scholars squad certainly didn't feel or look like a team that has another relegation battle in its future. This was a team willing to work for each other no matter what and with a full pre-season behind them, they understand and play exactly how the boss wants.
A win already under the belts and you could feel the confidence around the place growing.
But as the boss pointed out the standard has now been set.
And from my own selfish point of view I'm hoping this form will carry into the FA Cup or FA Trophy at the very least. A visit by Sunderland or a trip to the likes of Gateshead or Blyth Spartans would keep me happy if nobody else.