Glentoran v Glenavon 15th November 2017
Player Watch drifts out to the left wing this week to study Glentoran’s summer signing from Preston North End, Dylan Davidson. Following some early season exciting performances, a shoulder dislocation sustained against Glenavon meant the Irish League had only managed a few appearances to see him. This Tuesday evening match against Glenavon was his first starting appearance on his return from injury.
At eighteen years old he is young enough to be carrying such responsibility and has the athletic build one expects from a speedy winger. He looked eager for the ball and with his first touch looked keen to get round his marker but the Glenavon right-back Rhys Marshall won the first round as he paced Davidson well and gave him no option to get by him. Undeterred he soon found Curtis Allen with his next engagement but perhaps still settling, then showed a lack of composure losing the ball cheaply on the halfway line.
Receiving the ball from goalkeeper Morris he understood the threat of the early ball but in releasing Allen the forward had strayed offside. An early goal to each side had lit up the game and he was showing the enthusiasm one expects from an eighteen-year-old. Glentoran were clearly looking to him to provide their attacking outlet and he was responding well to the crowd’s belief in him to do this. He broke up a Glenavon attack as well with energetic harassment to show he could do the dirty work too.
Glenavon understood his role too and he spent time trying to get in a position that enabled him to reach the quick outlet ball to stretch the opposing defence. This resulted in him sometimes straying too far from the range and ability of his colleagues but it should be remembered that he has only played with his team less than half a dozen times. His next action involved him finding Robbie McDaid well but an interesting battle was developing between Marshall and himself with honours reasonably even.
He was reading and winning some battles in the air too but clearly, his game is much better grass suited. His next two crosses were mixed with one not clearing the first man and the next involving some work by the visitors to clear the ball. Aware that he was perhaps becoming a bit one dimensional he wrong-footed the Glenavon defence by cutting inside on his left foot but was quickly crowded out though he may have felt a tad unsupported. This may have weighed heavily on him as he appeared to lose a defensive sense of urgency and was reading danger a little too late which was not helping left back Redman. His speedy though slightly late arrival to these incidents suggested he knew this himself.
The start of the second half saw him send a long but ultimately directionless pass over to the other side of the pitch but he made up for this with a clever header into the path of an onrushing teammate. He had a shot at goal from dead centre just outside the penalty area as a result of a cleared corner but it bent away wide and high. The lack of space Marshall was giving him is something he will have to get used to, but he appeared to enjoy this challenge and it is, of course, something that he will become more than familiar with as he gets more time in this league. He will have to read his team intentions perhaps more quickly as now and then he needed to be earlier to a launched ball from defence to support his forwards.
He was certainly thinking on his feet clearly as the next time he got the ball he opted for a quicker early ball which he bent around the defence. It narrowly came to nothing but the threat was clear and now his marker had something else to think about.
He then had the opportunities to take a couple of corners from the left and they were whipped in with excellent trajectory and speed. Back into open play and a couple of times I felt that an off the ball run would provide an option or decoy for his team and again this is something that will happen as he settles into the team in time.
He had another run at Glenavon and had quite a mini battle with Mark Sykes as he first lost the ball but was then back up disrupting his antagonist. This showed character and fight and was well received by his team and the crowd. He managed another ball across the penalty area that begged a finish before being substituted on seventy- five minutes to warm applause from the crowd who were sad to see him go though he is still being nursed back to ninety-minute fitness. It is clear he offers danger and width to this Glentoran team and will indeed be one to watch.