Academy product, Will Bapaga, is getting his first taste of regular senior football out on loan at Grimsby Town in the National League this season. The young forward has been in and out of the Grimsby starting line-up over his first few months at the club, but has put in some impressive performances when at his best for a side challenging for promotion back to the Football League.
Now that Bapaga is at the 10 league game mark, it is time to get a closer look at his progress at Blundell Park. I asked Grimsby Town fan, Will (@Will_SH99 on Twitter), for his views on the Coventry City loanee.
What have you made of Will Bapaga’s performances for Grimsby Town thus far?
Bapaga started the season quite slowly after he had Covid, but between September and October he went on a real good run of form, scoring a few goals and winning a few penalties for his team (at least 3 from memory). He seemed to be growing in confidence, being more willing to take players on and his end product set him apart from our other wingers at the time. However when our form dipped as a team recently, his own form suffered too. His last start was against Kidderminster in the FA Cup where we lost 1-0, and he was mostly anonymous that day, but he wasn’t the only one. I think most fans have been surprised that he hasn’t been involved since then really, except for the odd cameo from the bench. With our form still being poor I’d expect he’ll get a chance from the start again soon.
How would you describe his style of play?
His style of play seems to be that of a typical modern winger, really. He’s quite a silky winger and because of his quick feet he does win a lot of fouls. He’s played on the left, the right and in the number 10 position for us and has done well in all those positions at times. However, I think he’s best on the left hand side, as he likes to cut in onto his favoured right foot from there, away at Altrincham was probably his best performance (up until he got a bizarre red card), he played on the left that day and scored a brilliant goal after cutting in. The Alty defence struggled against him all evening.
Where can his game improve?
The big one is probably consistency, which you’d expect for someone of his age. We have a few young players and you could say the same for all of them, when the team has been doing well, they have all excelled. When times got tough, Bapaga has gone missing in a few of the games. Other than that, he could probably work on his crossing a bit, as he seems to be able to go past his man with ease, it’s then the final ball which could be better.
Overall, though, he has done well, just going through a sticky patch recently, like most of the team.
From the sound of things, it looks like this could prove a useful loan spell for Will Bapaga. While he hasn’t played as regularly as many Coventry City fans would have hoped, the experience of coming up against senior opponents and having to fight for his place in a team should help refine the natural skill that he possesses. This loan spell is less about the level of football Bapaga is playing at and more about getting used to the demands of the senior game.
The next month looks set to be make or break in Bapaga’s time at Grimsby Town as the competition for places out wide has been increased by the recent addition of former Coventry City loanee, Jordan Maguire-Drew. It is likely that Grimsby Town boss, Paul Hurst, will prefer to give chances to a permanent player, rather than a loanee, which means Bapaga will have to be exceptional with any opportunity he gets, in order to nail down a place in the starting line-up. If not, a January recall may be in the offing, as Coventry City look to find a place where Bapaga can play more regularly.