Crooks needs more time

There were question marks surrounding a few selections around the John Smith's Stadium prior to kick-off on Saturday, but the inclusion of rookie Matt Crooks in the first XI of the season was the one which drew most attention.

The 20-year-old has proven a useful option to manager Mark Robins during pre-season, with his ability to play in central defence offering the manager a multi-functional performer and his impressive pre-season form saw him get the nod above Tommy Smith and Murray Wallace.

Smith will have felt most aggrieved at being excluded from the XI, and his complaints would have been vindicated as Crooks endured a nightmare start to life at this level.

He was run ragged by Marc Pugh, with the winger benefiting from space allowed to him by Crooks to strike a dagger through Town's hopes of a good start to the season as he netted after just 24 seconds.

It would be unfair to single out the youngster for criticism, particularly given Robins' decision to field the attack-minded Adam Hammill and Sean Scannell after the interval, but it would equally be fair to suggest that it was a gamble on the manager's part that backfired spectacularly.

Only one man will benefit from Smithies' woes

When Town secured the signing of Joe Murphy this summer, it was hailed around the club as an addition which could generate some much-needed competition in a freshening-up of the goalkeeping ranks.

Alex Smithies has been largely untested in the years since helping Town achieve promotion to the Championship but he will feel his rival breathing down his neck now after an uncharacteristically error-strewn performance.

His distribution throughout was suspect, as was his positioning and his attempts to play the sweeper-keeper role perfected by Germany's Manuel Neuer at the World Cup only injected nerves into an already confidence-shot backline.

Murphy arrived with the intention to displace Smithies and his task may just have been made that slightest bit easier by such a sloppy opening-day outing for the No.1, whose only partially redeeming feature was to save a late Callum Wilson penalty after initially bringing the striker down.

The Republic of Ireland international may well be handed an immediate opportunity to stake his claim, with Tuesday's Capital One Cup trip representing the perfect opportunity for Robins to tinker with his line-up.

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Wells looks lost without a true partner

James Vaughan and Nahki Wells only started alongside each other up front on three occasions last term before injuries put paid to the prospect of a strikeforce blossoming, but Saturday's lacklustre offensive showing made it abundantly clear what is missing from Town's attack.

The absence of Vaughan was a sizable void Danny Ward never looked capable of filling during the chastening defeat to the Cherries and Eddie Howe's post-match assessment of Town's attacking offerings - that there were none - was alarmingly accurate.

Long-range efforts were the sum total of Town's attempts to find a route back into the game but Wells could not be faulted for the want of trying.

He was let down by a lack of quality service from the midfield schemers behind him but there was no cohesion and no detectable relationship between the two cogs in Town's makeshift strikeforce.

It appeared as if both were unsure of the roles they were made to play and the attack suffered as a result. It seems too simplistic to suggest Vaughan's continued spell on the sidelines is the sole reason for a lack of firepower, but the alliance the duo are capable of forming is intriguing.

The midfield provides glimmers of light

Defensively and offensively, Town were not at the races, that much is obvious, but Robins will be determined to pick out any plus points lingering beneath the surface.

The club's statement regarding the speculation surrounding Adam Clayton hinted at a future without last season's Player of the Year and, thus, it was an opening for fans, players and manager alike to study how they can cope should he complete a protracted move elsewhere.

Radoslaw Majewski, in tandem with Hammill, was a bright spark in the opening period. He combined craft with graft to keep Town clicking when they were able to get a foothold of possession and linked up neatly with his midfield peers, most notably Oliver Norwood.

Norwood, too, gave his all and it was he who came closest to a Town goal, with his swerving effort from range smacking off the face of the crossbar, although it was clear Majewski was the man fans wanted to see more of, as their moans and groans upon his substitution indicated.

A debut for new signing Conor Coady was held back until the 69th minute, with his introduction coming too late on for the combative midfield performer to make much of a mark, but he did serve to steady the ship, with his arrival coinciding with Town keeping the arrears to just four.

Bournemouth boast a potentially devastating strikeforce

The fact Town secured such a comprehensive 5-1 win over the Cherries around this time last term left many Town fans hoping for a positive result, albeit if not by such a handsome margin of victory.

What a difference a year makes. Little did they know they would be on the receiving end of such a pummeling and although Howe's men were assured from one end of the pitch to the other, it was Wilson and Yann Kermorgant who stole the show.

The latter's influence was perhaps less decisive than his new accomplice, but his subtle touches, intelligent movement and spatial awareness helped him strike up an instant understanding with the man brought in to replace Lewis Grabban.

Wilson had Joel Lynch and Lee Peltier tied in knots and relished the chance to use his pace against the worryingly ponderous Lynch, in particular, with his failure to clinch his hat-trick from the spot the only blot on an otherwise polished copybook.

Watford's Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra are widely considered the most potent duo in the Championship this season, but Wilson and Kermorgant have emerged as early contenders to rival the Hornets' star duo for that crown.