Our disappointing start to this season was, to a large extent, due to our ineffective defence. In our first seven games we lost a total of fifteen goals. Had we continued to ship goals at such a rate our season would have been over well before New Year.
Of course, we had lost Hammell, Corrigan and McLean from the back four and there was some sympathy for the team's predicament. To make matters worse our goalie had a dip in form. It was time for the management team to act.
Malpas and Hegarty have a wealth of defensive experience behind them and to their credit they have turned our main weakness into a strength. In our last seven games we have conceded only five goals.
The obvious change has been the introduction of Colin Meldrum in goal. It is a tribute to his professionalism that he was able to slot into the first team with such ease. He looked sharp and fully fit and immediately took command of happenings inside the penalty box.
Although the change of personnel was significant, it would be wrong to attribute all the improvement to the keeper. We have been able to field the same back four for a number of games and their confidence and understanding has been on the increase.
Quinn's distribution is still poor but we have to remember that a defender's first duty is to stop the opposition attack and in that respect he continues to grow.
Craigan continues to be a rock and his no nonsense style is just what is needed in central defence. But the gem unearthed from the reserves has to be young Reynolds. We were aware of his steady progress and his exposure to the national side underlined his growing reputation. Let's hope he keeps going strong.
So, let's hear it for the defence. They have stopped the early season rot and been a big, big factor in our move from the bottom of the table. Now, what's the solution further up the park?