Published: 06:00, 08 February 2021
Welling boss Steve Lovell is excited by the option of playing captain Anthony Cook as a second striker.
Cook marked his return to the Wings by starting alongside Dipo Akinyemi in their 2-2 draw at Dartford on Saturday.
The former Bromley and Ebbsfleet player has spent most of his career as a midfielder but Lovell wants to use his pace higher up the field.
It had an immediate impact. Cook provided two assists, could have easily had Connor Essam sent-off for two first-half bookings, and then nearly added a third with a second-half lob that keeper Dan Wilks saved.
“That was the biggest thing for me – not the player being sent-off but Cookie’s final bit of the game,” reflected Lovell.
“If that goes in, he lobs the keeper and it’s 3-0 then it’s game over.
“I thought he played exceptionally well, he was a handful for them – him and Dipo up front – and it’s just a shame he didn’t stick it in. He had a big say in the two goals and had a good game.
“I like his energy and his pace. He has always got an eye for a goal and I like playing with two centre-forwards, one big lad who can hold the ball up like Dipo and one who can play off with a bit of pace.
“In any league against any back four, pace will hurt defenders so that’s the reasoning. I will always go like that, and that’s the reason Rhys Murrell-Williamson came on instead of him as it was like for like.”
It was the first time Lovell had seen his squad feature in a competitive game, and he was pleased with what his squad produced.
“I haven’t seen any of them play,” he added. “I’ve seen them when I’ve watched games this season but not as a unit, not as a group we’ve worked with.
“It was great to see them play, I got an idea of the 11 that started and the boys that came on of what we’ve got. Now we can work with them and get them playing to a way we want to play.
“First thing is getting their confidence up, we’ve built that into them over the last three weeks in training and given them the belief in themselves to go and play. That’s a pleasing factor as well.
“It was a good start. I thought we could have played better at times with the ball but that’s being ultra-critical. We did well, we could have passed it better and had opportunities when we could have created chances in the final third.
“Even at the end, after Dartford had a good 20-minute spell, I thought we had a good 10 minutes when we could have nicked it with a couple of opportunities. It’s a point and the only way is up.”
It was Lovell’s first game as a manager since Gills drew 1-1 at Bradford in April 2019.
“I was a bit surprised as I was a bit calm, which is not like me,” said Lovell.
“I really enjoyed it. It’s been two years since the last time I stood on a touchline, which was Bradford away with Gillingham a couple of seasons ago.
“It was lovely to be back out there, it’s always nice to be involved in football. I love working with players, I love coaching them, and when they put in the effort that these boys did then it’s rewarding at the end.
“The big thing for a coach is when things happen on a football field on a Saturday are things that you’ve worked on in the week, it gives you a buzz. They’ve taken on what we are trying to do.”