OPINION: Eastham makes the step up to succeed Jordan
The release of veteran defender Stephen Jordan was one of the shocks of the summer but his replacement Ashley Eastham might just turn out to be one of the swoops of the summer as he prepares to return to his old stomping ground on Saturday.
In those final games of Town’s relegation survival Jordan had put in a cluster of man-of-the-match performances, gave everything to the cause, played with a haematoma – a swelling of clotted blood between the tissues in his thigh – and looked nowhere near his 34-years.
But age is a big thing in football and then manager Steven Pressley opted not to offer him a new contract.
Jordan, who played in the top flight with Manchester City and Burnley has slotted straight into Matt Jansen’s high-flying Chorley side and helped their fine start.
But as one door closes another opens and Eastham has made an equally impressive start to his Town career.
The Preston-born defender left childhood club Blackpool for Rochdale in 2013 but sealed a switch back to the Fylde coast this summer.
Since Eastham joined from Dale on a free transfer he has slotted straight in at centre-half alongside the long serving Nathan Pond.
Although it was Pressley who brought him in, it is Uwe Rosler who has helped shape Eastham and Pond into a defensive system that suits his attacking style of play.
Much has been made of Rosler’s impact on the front-line but the backline is also coming on leaps and bounds.
Left-back Amari’i Bell has looked a player transformed so far as he wins tackle after tackle and bounds forward with real menace when asked.
Eastham is a no-nonsense centre-half, and despite Chris Long and Kyle Dempsey stealing the headlines, Rosler’s revolution is also taking place at the back of the pack.
With Eastham’s no-nonsense physicality and an in-depth knowledge of this league he could turn out to be the shrewdest bit of business by Town owner Andy Pilley this summer as Town’s bright start continues and Eastham prepares to return to face the music at Rochdale.