A QUARTER of the season is pretty much done and I’m glad we’ve got through the crazy opening fixture list.

Game ten in 36 days was another defeat on the road, our fourth in five away games. Is it ideal? August was always going to be brutal although before a ball was kicked I had hoped for a little bit more than what we’ve seen so far. That said, the circumstances we’ve had to deal with in this first quarter of the season means I’m not too concerned.

What does the report card look like for the first ten games? For me, there are signs of promise. You can see what Alun wants from his team. There is a desire to play at a high tempo even if it doesn’t always come off. Players are given a degree of freedom to express themselves. Running with the ball is encouraged and we have a number of players who seem very happy to carry it forward, something we saw little of last season. All of the players look pretty comfortable on the ball.

Considering at times last season it was treated like a hot potato, having players who aren’t afraid of the ball is a step forward. We have some pace in the team. Again, that’s progress. To temper the positives, I would suggest we can do a bit better. There has been plenty of individual mistakes which have punished us badly. Whether it is a concentration issue or footballing intelligence, the individual mistakes have the potential to floor us.

Something we have been acutely aware of throughout our time in this division is teams possess the quality to punish you and inevitably they do. If sides are going to score against us, let’s at least make them work for their goals. Meanwhile, going forward, we need to be more ruthless. We need to shift the ball around a bit quicker and importantly we need to get more bodies into the box. The vast majority of goals are scored in there so if we don’t get bodies the likelihood is we won’t score too many and we’ll be reliant on scoring wonder goals.

If I were to give a mark out of ten for what we’ve seen so far, I would go for an optimistic-leaning six. Now I can hear a few moans and groans as I type this, but here’s my rationale. For a start, we are actually playing good football at home. We’ve won three of our opening five games at Blackwell Meadows. If you remember last season, it was on Boxing Day when we racked up our third win on home soil. It took 11 league games. Surely this season is a marked improvement, especially when you consider one of the biggest issues for fans at the end of last season when we disposed of the previous manager was the lack of wins at home and good performances. Yes, the away form isn’t great but there is plenty of time for that to come good.

Could I have maybe marked us down to a five? Well, possibly but for me there are plenty of mitigating circumstances. We’ve had a horrible run of injuries. Not just the obvious long-term injuries but also the ones that are being played with. I have a deep sympathy with Alun on this front given his first-choice full backs were lost to him.

Fortunately, Michael Liddle will be back soon but his absence along with Luke Trotman has had a significant impact when we’re in possession. I remain hopeful that now we’re through the crazy first ten games and we settle down to playing a single game per week, we can get our injured players properly fit and we can work on how best to utilise the players at our disposal.

I can understand why some fans are getting a bit concerned, but I’m feeling comfortable that this side will come good. The league table may not show it just yet but we are a better side than last season. For me, that’s progress.