What happens next to WPL Golden Boot winner Draper after emergence of Ebbe?
Irish forward Dean Ebbe has been the star of the show in New Saints’ European campaign, but what does his form hold for Greg Draper?
Signed from Bluebell United in January, the 24-year-old has been the man entrusted to lead the line for Scott Ruscoe’s side in five of their six European games.
In four of those European nights this season, Ebbe has been on the scoresheet. He scored a crucial goal to keep The New Saints in Europe against Lincoln Red Imps, as well as a consolation goal this week against Midjtylland.
Ebbe’s place in the team has been at the expense of Welsh Premier League Golden Boot winner of last season, Greg Draper. Even when Dean Ebbe wasn’t fully fit for the second leg, Kurtis Byrne was given the nod, ahead of 29-year-old.
In their latest match, Draper was named as a substitute as The New Saints opted to go with one up front, with Ebbe leading the line again.
Eventually, as they chased the game after trailing due to an Andy Owens goal, The New Saints had Dean Ebbe, Greg Draper and Kurtis Byrne on the pitch, but it was to no avail as they lost out.
Draper made an immediate impact in his first Welsh Premier League outing this season, picking up where he left off, scoring twice as a substitute in a 5-1 win over Barry Town United.
Speaking after the win over Bary, manager Scott Ruscoe said: “We always create chances, we’re an attacking side. We’ve got excellent quick, dynamic and technical players.”
The reigning Welsh Premier League champions are the only side that could afford to have Draper on the bench.
They have always been blessed with the ability of prolific forwards in their team, all have which have remained loyal to the club before it was time to move on. Other clubs have had to see their star strikers leave for pastures new when their forwards put a goal scoring-run together.
If the New Zealand international were to come available, each Welsh Premier League side would bite the hands off of The New Saints, for his experience in the league.
21 goals in 31 appearances last season, improving by six goals from his previous campaign, saw Draper improve on where he needed to, excelling in his first season post-Harrison era.
At the early stage of the season, it could be seen as a rotational movement to keep each forward happy in terms of playing time this season.
However, a player of Draper’s calibre needs to see him playing and contributing.
The New Saints are quite a disciplined and reserved side and despite being one of the prolific sides in the lead, their style of play is one which other teams find difficult to compete with, their team is clinical.
Playing with one forward is how The New Saints have gone in each of their European games, as well as the Welsh Premier League opener, but as time goes on will Scott Ruscoe opt to deploy a two-man partnership?
Draper’s ability to knock balls ahead of himself, to set up Ebbe, who showed his willingness for a goal in midweek after robbing the Midtjylland player of the ball, could create a dynamic partnership between the two.
Doing that though would go against the New Saints way. Strikers sitting it out at The New Saints isn’t anything new. Before his departure, Scott Quigley would have to await his chance and would sometimes be deployed as a winger.
The New Saints have always worked with this rotational policy.
With the European games out of the way now and their next game against top six opposition not until the 21st September against Bala, handing a starting spot to Draper or opting for a two-man partnership could be something for Scott Ruscoe to consider.
(Featured Image: Naomi Jones)