By Nathan Bees
We wait almost 2 weeks since the Gillingham game for attacking reinforcements and then two players sign on the same day... unbelievable!
It’s clear Mark McGhee has been working hard to identify the right personnel to improve our squad and with the additions of both Derek Riordan and Tom Eaves it has paid off.
Whilst there were understandable concerns from some Gasheads that the process was taking a long time to complete we have now found the two strikers we’ve been desperately craving. Credit must go to both Mark and Nick Higgs in sealing their signatures.
Derek Riordan is a big name in Scottish football following his goalscoring exploits with Hibernian and his signing will certainly catch the attention of other clubs in League Two. He is regarded as a top striker and his SPL scoring record is testament to that. He lies third in the all-time records of SPL highest goalscorers, just behind Kris Boyd and Henrik Larsson - not bad really!
He’s been without a club since departing Hibs at the end of last season, but he’s signed a 3 month contract with the Gas and he’ll be looking to reignite his career in England.
At the age of 29 he has all the attributes to be a success for us and I’m sure he’ll be looking to forge a partnership with fellow Scot David Clarkson if given the opportunity. He’ll score goals, hopefully starting this weekend.
Young Bolton Wanderers prospect Tom Eaves is the second signing of our recent recruitment drive and links up with us on a 3 month loan deal. He’s yet to make an impact on the Trotters first team but is highly regarded at the club and is a regular scorer in the reserve side.
He joined Owen Coyle’s men following an impressive pre-season friendly display against them for Oldham Athletic in 2010. He netted a hat-trick and was promptly signed for an undisclosed fee shortly after.
He stands at 6 ft 3 and will certainly replace the aerial presence we lost when Matt Harrold picked up his anterior cruciate ligament injury at Priestfield.
Alongside Clarkson, Joe Anyinsah and Eliot Richards, both Riordan and Eaves ensure we have a full quota of strikers who possess a little bit of everything. We’ve got strength, power, positional awareness and now goalscoring prowess in our strike-force which will hopefully help us to kickstart our season.
The disappointing spell of bad luck we endured following pre-season, when key players like Cian Bolger and Matt Harrold sustained long-term injuries, looks like it may just have turned and we can now look to make progress.
Summer signing Garry Kenneth has been superb in his two appearances and has shored up our previously porous defence, whilst the operation Matt had this week was deemed a success by surgeons. Great news. Now we have to move on and concentrate on netting our first victory of the campaign.
Our next opportunity to do that comes against high-flying Exeter City at St. James’ Park on Saturday. It’ll see us come up against former players like Jamie Cureton, Danny Coles and Pat Baldwin, whilst development coach Marcus Stewart will return to the club he left to join us over the summer.
Leaving these connections to one side and all focus will be on whether we can replicate the solid performance we put in against Fleetwood Town last weekend and add the final touch - goals. Confidence will be high within the squad that we can do just that with our new signings and the large army of Gasheads descending on Devon will be full of optimism too.
If we do our bit from the terrace we may just be able to cheer the boys on to 3 points. Fingers crossed!
Up the Gas!