Criticism of Bogle is lazy, County striker crucial in bid to avoid relegation scrap
IT’S been six games since Omar Bogle last celebrated a goal but the striker remains as crucial as ever for Newport County AFC, despite the grumbles.
There is plenty of online noise about the Exiles’ top scorer and some of that criticism is being transferred to the stands.
Bogle has scored nine in 27 games for County, if the summer signing from Hartlepool maintains that rate then he will bag 18 by playing in the 27 remaining fixtures.
If he does hit that figure then it would beat all but two tallies in all competitions – Dom Telford’s 26 last season and Padraig Amond’s 24 in 2018/19 – since the club’s return to the Football League.
Bogle is joint eighth in the League Two scoring charts with seven goals from 30 shots; he fires off 3.3 efforts per game for an Exiles side that are workmanlike rather than dazzling.
His conversion rate of 16 per cent and shooting accuracy of 52 per cent need to improve in comparison to his peers – and some glaring misses played a part in previous boss James Rowberry losing his job – but the striker is one of the few dangermen in a well-drilled side.
Bogle’s shot count is second only to the division’s top scorer Sam Hoskins and the breakdown of his efforts is similar to Telford’s last season (both 3.3 per game, both 2.2 from inside the area, Bogle slightly more outside it and fewer in the six-yard box).
Yet somehow his harshest critics deem him a waste of space and call for someone else to get a crack up front.
Given that this a County side who have scored five of nine from set plays in the reign of Graham Coughlan, I’d respectfully say that the detractors are talking nonsense.
Part of the criticism stems from the manager’s comments about wanting his players to hit 10,000 metres when running during games.
That is not a useful metric in isolation. Aaron Ramsey failed to hit the heights at the World Cup yet led the field for Wales with just shy of 34km in three games.
It shouldn’t just be a case of distance but effective distance. Running around like a toddler chasing bubbles can do more harm than good.
Will Evans has been superb since stepping up from the Cymru Premier and has remarkable stamina, yet part of his growth as a professional will be developing when and where. Conservation can help in terms of explosiveness in attack.
Pressing needs to be organised and operating on triggers while forwards need to do their graft but must also focus on the box rather than the channels.
Hard-working Padraig Amond and Lewis Collins did a grand job in the run-in when County went agonisingly close to promotion in 2021 yet their combined goal tally was two from eight games as a starting partnership.
Bogle isn’t a shirker and the criticism of his work rate is much, much lazier than him.
He mixes it physically with some uncompromising defenders – he is the most fouled forward in League Two with 33, working out at 1.7 per game – and is embroiled in a lot more aerial duels due to County’s change in style after the loss of influential loanees Finn Azaz and Ollie Cooper.
Bogle’s body language can sometimes be poor but it’s easy to sympathise when he’s living off scraps while marked out as one of the few threats in a functional not flashy side.
Would I like to see more from him? Of course, but let’s recognise that he provides something to the side that nobody else can.
It’s Coughlan’s job to get that talent out of him on a more consistent basis but Bogle, in the continued absence of injured pacey forward Offrande Zanzala, is almost tasked with being the goal threat of Telford AND the physical threat of Courtney Baker-Richardson.
Maybe I’m wrong and the key to County’s success would be to pick Will Evans and Lewis Collins up top to just run and run.
Their task could be to win throws for Mickey Demetriou to launch into the box, something that will help him and his fellow central defenders add 100 metres to their 10k target every time they trot forward and run back.
Perhaps Chanka Zimba really is as talented as Rowberry suggested when bringing him in on loan from Cardiff.
I'd wager that Bogle keeps his spot and he is vital if the Exiles are to steer well clear of a relegation fight.
If he stays fit then he will win the club’s golden boot and could even become another 20-goal striker for the club. That wouldn't be bad for a waste of space.