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Daniele Accurso writes a detailed scout report about Mikael Mandron, the Eastleigh and Scotland striker.
After watching the televised match between two conference sides aiming for promotion in the forms of Eastleigh and Boreham Wood on BT Sport, one player stood out amongst the rest in what was an exciting encounter. After 95 minutes of football with Boreham Wood scoring a dramatic late equaliser to level the game 2-2, one player shone; the big presence upfront for Eastleigh, Mikael Mandron. The Conference, now named National League has produced plenty of talent upfront in recent years including Jamie Vardy and Gary Hooper to name just a few, so there’s always a hidden gem to find in the Conference. In Mandron’s case, the Premier League may be a step too far for him, even though he has tasted life in the top flight but for now, League One or the Championship has to be his aim in the following years.
The name Mikael Mandron may seem familiar to those in Tyneside, with the French born, now declared Scottish 22 year old, having played three times for the Black Cats in his late teens. The young striker who found game time hard to come by up north had several loans down in the Football League, with Fleetwood, Shrewsbury and Hartlepool all signing the 6ft 3 striker for a brief amount of time. These loan spells weren’t to go to plan for Mandron, only netting once for Fleetwood in 11 appearances, never finding the net at Shrewsbury after 3 games and then suffering a similar fate at Hartlepool, this time not netting after five outings. Mikael Mandron has seemingly found his level down in the fifth tier of English Football, scoring 10 goals in the National League and has amassed 5 goals already in this year’s FA Cup competition, resulting in Eastleigh finding themselves in the 3rd round of the oldest competition in world football. After an impressive first half of the season, reports have being suggesting several football league sides are after his services, although they haven’t been named.
With such a big physique, Mandron suits the lower leagues perfectly either upfront by himself or partnered alongside someone. Against Boreham Wood, Martin Allen decided to play Mandron in a front two alongside James Constable. The two seemed to link up quite well however it was Mandron who stole the show out of all the players on the pitch. He was a constant thorn in the Wood’s back line, dropping deep to collect the ball or backing into defenders. His style is typical of tall strikers in the lower league, he’ll win headers from goal kicks and corners and likes the rough and brutal battles with centre backs. His pace is surprising for a player of his height but it won’t be an asset he bases his game around.
His touch seemed adequate especially on such a poor surface which never makes holding possession any easier. His hold up play against Boreham Wood also impressed, shrugging off the opposition with ease and on one occasion, he turned them and sprinted towards goal with frightening pace, leaving the Boreham Wood team for dust, thus ruining their compact defensive formation. His aerial presence also suits him for the target man role and with such a tall figure, Mandron will surely get you goals if you give him good enough service. One of his best performances came in the FA Cup second round tie against Halifax Town, with Mandron netting twice in a 3-3 draw. Mandron was a nuisance all game, always being in the right position to collect balls in the box and finish them. His intelligent play to drop back, chip a pass forward for strike partner Wilson scored Eastleigh’s second, mainly down to Mandron’s exquisite pass. Having watched conference football for some years now, with my club Barnet having been in what was then called the Vanarama Conference two seasons ago, I know what it takes for a striker to succeed at both Conference and League Two level. Having been blessed with seeing John Akinde on a weekly basis, he’s set the standard of what I call a quality lower league striker, with the Englishman netting 33 times on our way to the conference title and already on 17 goals in League Two this season. After watching Mandron, he does seem capable of leading a front line in League Two and as time goes on, he’ll only get better.
At 6 ft 3 and mainly deployed as a target man, Mandron has to bulk up his physique if he is to move up the leagues. As opponents get better, defenders will be on his back faster, they’ll jump higher when competing for those headers and they are much stronger. This though is something he can easily work on in the gym over the summer and the rest of the season which will make him an absolute nightmare to compete against. All great lower league strikers need either pace or strength and with Mandron’s mobility, the Scotsman has to prioritise on the latter (strength) to ensure if he moves up the footballing pyramid, he won’t be outmuscled week in week out.
However something Mikael may find harder to work on is his consistency. At the age of 22, Mandron is on the brink of no longer being called a young footballer and with this new territory, comes more responsibility. Although he has netted 15 goals this season, they seem to come in patches, which may not seem like something to bemoan but you need consistency over a season. Take some prolific lower league strikers; John Akinde, Omar Bogle, Matty Taylor, and Tammy Abraham for example. These players will score week after week. Great strikers score lots but add frequency which Mandron seems to be lacking right now. If he can find the back of the net more consistently whilst becoming more physical, Mandron has what it takes to play in the Football League to a very high standard, League One is a minimum for Mandron in the future.
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