Thank God For Church
When he signed a one month loan deal from Reading there was a little groan in Crewe, why bother signing a 18 year old from a average Premiership side?
It happens often though at every club, because football managers really do know more than the fan in the stand. Some laughed at Dario for naming Luke Varney as Dean Ashton's successor, quite a few scoffed at the signing of Julien Baudet - Varney's success needs not to be explained and who would disagree that Baudet is our best centre back? A centre back Tranmere, now sitting in the play-offs, wanted earlier this season.
So it should be no surprise that Reading's Simon Church has become a success. He wasn't the hyped up signing that Lee Barnard failed to be (although he had a tough time of it), nor was he even as hyped up as Charlton's Chris Dickson who was supposed to guarantee us goals... but failed to guarantee us more than one shot on target.
Instead Church slipped through the back door after Steve Holland and Neil Baker saw him play for Wales U-21s, a game I watched and decided Church was nowhere near League One standard!
His debut didn't start with a bang but he gave subtle hints at what he could do. He played a big part in both goals in a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Luton and certainly didn't look out of his depth, and probably should have scored.
Against Cheltenham the following week he grabbed his first league goal following an impressive run and finish. He could have had a hat-trick in that game but seemed to lack that certain something in front of goal.
Another week and another game, the 2-0 win over Yeovil on Saturday showed the strides Church has taken in between the two home games. A mixture of confidence and settling into his new surroundings probably went a long way to helping his performance.
Within 30 seconds he could have opened the scoring, and continued in that form throughout the match. It was his run and shot that forced the keeper to tip round for a corner, from which Chris McCready headed home. It was also his solo run and shot that forced the impressive Mildenhall to parry into the path of Byron Moore for the second goal of the game.
Dario praised Church after the game, saying how Church is similar to Varney. For me he's a mixture of Varney and Rob Hulse, he gets around the pitch and isn't afraid of a challenge but also enjoys running at defenders. TV highlights of the second goal on Saturday showed how his close control and decent pace is an asset to the team.
Church is now on course to take a hat-trick of Vital Crewe MOTM awards, currently having 49% of the Yeovil vote on the poll. It's make it three awards in his first three games at Gresty Road.
His loan still has a couple of weeks to run but let's hope it's simple enough to extend. It's unlikely Steve Coppell will want him for his Reading side, so a loan till the end of the season could be on the cards.
He's definitely a player with bags of potential, those who have seen the Luton, Cheltenham and Yeovil games will also have seen his progress. If there's more to come we may end up in a fight to keep him next summer!
With Nicky Maynard looking likely to return from his broken leg later this week, it'll be good to see how a Maynard and Church partnership works - hopefully not too dissimilar to how Maynard and Varney worked last season to get 44 goals.
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