For our first ‘Player Watch’ of the season we look at a man who has accrued a few headlines in recent times, especially since his return to Dungannon Swifts following this summer’s transfer. The 23-year-old Newtownstewart native had played for the club several years ago at various youth levels before playing for junior club Strathroy Harps. His activity there earned him a move to Ballinamallard United in 2015 and he caught the eye last season with a more than respectable nine goals in seventeen appearances. Starting this season with a goal in his team’s home defeat to Coleraine we study him in an away match at Glentoran.
Ryan Mayse has big shoes to fill following goal machine Andy Mitchell’s move to Glenavon. Much slighter than Mitchell he seems to occupy a free ‘number ten’ type role with Dungannon supporting Ally Teggart on the left and Peter McMahon up front. He spent a lot of the first half dropping back to receive the ball and constantly had his head up looking for space. This was indeed a busy occupation in itself as Glentoran with their new team had two midfielders, Marcus Kane and Corey McMullan detailed to patrol this area as a defensive shield.
It took a while for both teams to settle down and the game was not doing him any favours with both teams tending to launch the ball forward and airborne once play became compressed in his midfield area. His willingness to offer himself was evident and his positional sense was sharp too. He was conscious of a defensive hole any time his captain Ryan Harpur went ahead of him on the pitch. As mentioned Kane, in particular, was always very close to him so any time he received the ball he was always trying to turn quickly and release McMahon down the right. Dungannon’s full backs were not able to get forward much as they were being pinned back by Glentoran’s wingers, McNicholl and Davidson. This was hampering Dungannon badly in their attempt to get into any rhythm and reduced opportunities for him.
In what must have been a difficult first twenty minutes he was still busy darting quickly at throw – ins to provide options and act as a decoy. Possibly due to his own frustration to activate anything in the heavy traffic, he moved out to the right wing half way through the first half to get some daylight with McMahon moving more central. His slight frame does perhaps seem more suitable for these areas as the physicality of Glentoran’s two midfield bouncers was dominating.
He was eager to provide options once again with several runs infield but if he was hoping to get a one on one run on left back Ross Redman his team were unable to get the ball quickly enough to him. Those times they did manage this he was quickly crowded out, culminating one time with his not controlling a ball on the touchline to concede a throw in whilst not under any pressure. Only once did he get the ball in the area in a good position but he decided against taking on Redman and passed back to his full back to put the cross in. This was probably the right decision and kept the momentum of the attack alive. The decision to go wide right though was not stretching the Glentoran defence.
The start of the second half saw him return to the free central role between midfield and attack. Following a good run into the edge of the box he beat a man and got a cross in which was blocked but he must have been pleased to clear the strict midfield policing. He still continued to work hard at coming short to receive and release pressure for his side. An important moment for him and the team was breaking up a fast Glentoran break and he showed courage and determination to track back to save his team. Conversely, within a few minutes of that he was caught in possession in central midfield which could have been costly. A 52nd -minute goal for Glentoran gave them more confidence and he continued to make runs into space to little avail.
It was unsurprising to see him substituted on the hour as he was in a position where he was unable to affect the play. He did get caught in possession a few times but I salute his courage in offering to take the ball in awkward areas to help out his team. I do feel he needs to be beside a bigger front man where his obvious awareness of space, movement and short space bursts can enable him to keep his goals tally regular. This clearly worked well for him last year with Adam Lecky as a frontman. This was a difficult night for Dungannon in general against a dynamic Glentoran team, but certainly Dungannon’s front three players did play too far apart to do damage and indeed their best chance came from a corner. Better days no doubt lie ahead.