ASH TAYLOR pulls on the captain’s armband for Tranmere at The Valley tomorrow in the hope that this time, the honour will be noted in the record books.
The 22-year-old defender from Eastham skippered the side for the first time in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday, in the absence of the suspended John Welsh.
But Taylor’s contribution on the night, which included a goal, was wiped when the second round tie was abandoned after 39 minutes with Rovers leading 2-1, because of an injury to Accrington’s Tom Bender.
Welsh’s one match ban carries forward to the visit to Charlton Athletic so manager Les Parry will once again look to Taylor to provide some vocal leadership against the League One front-runners.
Parry said: “We gave Ash the captaincy on Tuesday because he is one of the more vocal players and he will be captain again on Saturday.
“Although he is young, he is not frightened to tell the older players where they should be and I think that’s a reflection on him as a character.”
Parry reckons Taylor’s form has improved during a sequence of seven starts which followed an injury to centre-back Mark McChrystal.
“I think Ash is an example of a player who is benefiting from getting a run in the side,” Parry said.
“When Ash was filling in for games we needed him, he wasn’t getting a run in the team and by his own admission he did not do particularly well. Now he is improving with every game.”
Even so, Welsh’s absence from the side tomorrow is a sore point with Parry, who had planned on the midfielder serving out his suspension at Accrington.
Parry said: “John can’t play at Charlton which is ridiculous. I would have thought that the sensible thing under the circumstances was for him to serve the suspension when the Accrington game is replayed. The FA in their wisdom decided he can’t play at Charlton. But the FA and wisdom are two words that don’t go together.”
The abandonment of the Accrington game has created some unusual circumstances for Rovers but Parry insists the decision to call a halt to the action at the Crown Ground was the correct one.
He said: “It is odd, the fact that Mustafa Tiryaki scored his first professional goal for us on Tuesday but didn’t, the fact that Ash Taylor was out on his own as our leading scorer with three goals but wasn’t and the fact that Ash captained the side for the first time but didn’t.”
Rovers should take encouragement from the bright performance of the reshuffled line-up, Parry says. Joss Labadie is likely to hold onto his place in central midfield in the absence of Welsh.
Parry added: “A couple of players did particularly well on Tuesday. We’ve not been scoring goals so we will look at changing things.”
The manager insisted Tranmere have no reason to be intimidated by the prospect of taking on a Charlton side who are unbeaten in the league and moved five points clear at the head of the table by notching an eighth win in 11 League One games at the expense of Sheffield United last weekend.
Parry said: “We are looking forward to this. We went to Huddersfield in Preston and played really well. I think Charlton will be expecting a difficult game and hopefully we will give them one. Yes, the results show we have not picked up as many points as we wanted from the last six league games but the fans who watched those games would echo the fact that we played well in most of them.
“The results don’t tell the whole story. But of course there is no column in the table for playing well and no column in the table for chances created. It is goals and points that count.”
Charlton manager Chris Powell is looking for a positive response from his team after a much-changed line-up suffered a 3-0 defeat to London rivals Brentford in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in midweek.
Powell said: “I know I made changes and I know people are trying to say where your priorities are, but I don’t like losing football matches. I’m disappointed all round for everyone.”