Adrian Cieslewicz has only started our last two games this season yet he looks as likely a catalyst for a push into the play-offs as we've got. Whether that illustrates that you have to be patient as young players develops, or just shows how desperate we are for a bit of attacking spark is a moot point.
There's no doubt that the pace of Cieslewicz got us off our seats against Kidderminster and Altrincham. He's always possessed that attribute, of course, but seems to be more able to utilise it effectively now.
A number of fans at the end of last season were sceptical as to whether he'd ever do that, but I feel that in thinking that they forgot that he was still very young. After all, he was just seventeen when he signed for us, although his lively form in pre-season friendlies after his arrival probably built up too much expectation too soon. As a result he was straight into the first team, and when he struggled to replicate that form he dropped out of contention and many began to draw negative conclusions about his potential.
That was unfair. Admittedly, he still might not fulfil his potential. Plenty of pacy youngsters are exposed when, once their formative years are passed, it becomes apparent that speed is all they've got. Perhaps that will be the case with Cieslewicz, but I hope not. So far this season, in his substitute appearances as well as his recent starts, he has shown that there's starting to be a bit more end product to his thrilling runs. For evidence, have a look at how well he took play from the defensive to attacking phases in my tactical video review of the Kidderminster match.
He showed signs of doing so in those pre-season matches the Summer before last; his danger lay not solely in his pace but in the way he and Marc Williams dove-tailed neatly, their movement creating space for each other. In those games Cieslewicz was used as a right winger, while Williams was a striker, but they have a history of combined successfully in other positions too; by some distance Cieslewicz's best performance of last season came when he and Williams were paired up front against Kidderminster.
As one might argue that his other outstanding performance for us came in the F.A. Trophy tie against Kidderminster last month (poor old Kiddy-he must have something against them!) when he and Williams were each given their first starts of the season, there seems to be a pattern forming. There's every chance, having seen how drained both Gareth Taylor and Andy Morrell looked yesterday, that a Williams and Cieslewicz will start up front against Bath, with Mathias Pogba the third man up front. Could it be that the Williams-Cieslewicz double act will give Saunders something to chew over before he dives into the transfer market?