Paul Cropper is the Rams’ match reporting sage and he gives his thoughts on pre-season as the season kicks off on Saturday at home to Goole.

With the signing of Paul Linwood the final pieces of the squad jigsaw seem to be falling into place and there is a palpable sense of excitement, anticipation and no little optimism around the HWRS.  It has been great to see the return of long standing supporters who seemed to be lost to us permanently in the face of the disaster pis preceding 18 months.

It looks like the new management team are set on putting out a compact 4-3-3 and on the evidence of the warm up games with a solid middle three in which Dean Stott looks like a firm (and versatile) anchor and Nat Taylor an all action forward looking operator with a powerful leap – this will be a massive improvement on the lunatic insistence of last season’s fetish for two wise men who were unable to get into or influence the game leaving the middle two outnumbered and overpowered.

If the front three of Darren Green, Gareth Seddon and Jay Hart display anything like the form and energy displayed in pre-season it will take a very able and resolute defence to keep them out and it will be very surprising if the Rams do not have a very healthy goals for column.

To the eyes of this observer much will depend on how well the full backs can prevent forays to the bye-line at one end and provide over-lapping width at the other.  In Josh Dunroe and Matt Atherton there seems to be promise but at the same time on the evidence of the warm up games there is a question mark over the depth of cover on those areas (although something may have got lost in the triallist translation) and there could be similar concerns about cover up front.

But that is not to be negative but rather to voice a note of caution around prospects that will vary between a very strong promotion push and top 10 respectability – anything less is not to be expected from a clear minded management duo and a strong first 11 or so.

It was great to support the Rams in the upwardly mobile seasons but following home and away them was as much a family and community experience between fans players and management as watching a winning team – let’s look forward to those days coming back very soon.

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