12:00pm Wednesday 31st July 2002
FULL time is nearly up on an eventful but ultimately disappointing season for Worcester City.
Depending on how Saturday's result against Bath City goes then John Barton's team is going to end up in more or less the same position as last year -- top eight with 'could do better' stamped on the end of season report.
In assessing the season, it is fair to say that injury has certainly wreaked havoc and Barton has at times been left with barely 11 fit players to pick from.
The loss of prolific striker Mark Owen also proved costly for Worcester. He had fired 17 goals including three hat-tricks before a broken leg in October ended his season.
It's debatable whether even a fit Owen could have propelled City towards being genuine challengers, but what the prolific striker did do was mask a lot of deficiencies particularly in midfield and out wide.
However, while injuries may have hampered progress there has also been a degree of frustration at some of City's performances. There has always been plenty of endeavour, but a lack of composure on the ball and the ability to maintain decent possession has frustrated supporters.
This was a problem area that Darren Bullock briefly looked like correcting, but he self-destructed on a cold winter's night at Stafford after a typically colourful few months at St George's Lane.
On the positive side, the signings of Stewart Hadley and Adam Webster have been major bonuses, but it is clear that Barton needs an injection of real quality in the middle of the park and out wide if City are to climb into the top six next season.
If Mark Shail can be persuaded to stay then that would further strengthen City's cause. Barton admits he's been surprised at just how good the former Bristol City and Kidderminster central defender has been.
"There's no doubt his performances have been good but I must admit I didn't anticipate quite the level he has achieved. He's been a pleasure to have a round," said Barton.
Jon Holloway's performances over the season have been subject to a lot of debate particularly on how effective he is in midfield. Against Havant neither Holloway or Marc Burrow could sufficiently influence the game and it is clear in my mind that both are better in defence.
Nathan Jukes briefly staked a claim for a midfield berth, but has still to be offered a new contract.
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