And then there were five.
But, unlike Agatha Christie’s best selling mystery novel, the number of ex-Shakers at Plymouth Argyle is only increasing. Byron Moore, a supporting member of Bury’s charge to promotion last season, has become the ninth convert from life in the North West to Devon’s ocean city, following the four coaching staff, Danny Mayor, Will Aimson, Dominic Telford and Callum McFadzean.
Moore’s career began as a youth player at Crewe, for whom he made an immediate impression after signing his first professional contract. He debut came aged 18 on the opening day of the 2007/08 season as a last minute replacement in the team for the injured Ryan Lowe. The winger then went on to make 25 starts in the league, marking himself out as a player with potential.
His progression continued for the next two seasons, before he fully broke into the first-team in the 2010/11 seasons, winning a starting berth in the team from October until March, during which he scored seven goals and assisted a further four. The season after was the best of his career. He was an established member of the first team, scoring ten goals in all competitions as Crewe won the play-offs. Moore himself scored the second, clinching goal in the play-off final victory over Cheltenham.
Moore went on to enjoy two successful seasons in League One, adding a further eight goals and 21 assists to his Crewe total before moving on to local rivals Port Vale in the summer of 2014. Yet, Moore endured a tricky time in his first season with Port Vale.
The death of his brother may had played a big role. He had time out for compassionate leave during the entire pre-season and subsequently only started two matches in the first half of the 2014/15 season. He eventually forced his way into the team in February, coinciding with one of Vale’s best spells of form throughout the season, before injury ruled him out from March onward.
With a smooth pre-season, Moore was involved more heavily with Vale, but only scored three and assisted a further four in the league as the side was relegated to League Two. He then jumped ship to Bristol Rovers for what would be his fifth and sixth consecutive seasons in League One, but again he struggled. During his two seasons he made only 22 league starts, scoring two, and was released at the conclusion of the 2017/18 season.
Despite his struggles, a number of League One clubs were interested in Moore, but he chose to link back up with Ryan Lowe at Bury, with whom he had played together at Crewe in the 2007/08 season. It was a good decision.
Though Moore was not first choice, he still made 22 starts and 43 appearances in all competitions, adding eight goals and four assists, making it his highest scoring season since he won promotion with Crewe in 2012. He, like Mayor and Aimson, both arrive at Home Park having won promotion during each of their past two seasons in this division, and will be aiming for three in a row.
Style of play
Since Moore is likely to be used as a striker first and foremost, it makes sense to begin with Moore’s shooting. It has been well documented that Moore only scored five league goals last season, but less so that he netted eight in all competitions at a rate of just over one every three matches, which is good for a back-up striker.
Moore often demonstrated his composure in front of goal, taking his time to set up the shot instead of immediately snatching at opportunities. This finish against Colchester is a good example. The ball he received from Adams wasn’t particularly good, as it left him on his left foot with a defender pressing him to prevent him from getting his body around the ball and hitting it with his right. Instead, he calmly touched it around the defender and, then on his strong foot, smashed the ball into the top corner.
Then there was his goal against Exeter, when he calmly knocked the ball around the ‘keeper when clean through and tapped into the empty net.
Additionally, he demonstrated some good movement in front of goal, such as his positioning wide of the defence and the timing of his run in behind against Dover:
Another example was his run across Curtis Nelson to score against a full-strength Oxford in Bury’s 5-2 EFL Trophy win:
All of these highlights demonstrate what Lowe knew when he signed Moore: though he had been a winger for the majority of his career, he had the instincts to play as a striker and score goals. His positional play, composure and finishing are of the level required for him to pose a threat up-front.
When you think about the fact that he only scored five league goals, you have to consider that he made almost as many substitute appearances as he did starts. During that time, he was fighting with Telford, Caolan Lavery and Chris Dagnall to start alongside first-choice Nicky Maynard.
In fact, Moore’s conversion rate (25.0%) was better Telford’s (19.4%) and on a par with Maynards (25.3%), who was Bury’s top scorer. The difference in goals largely stemmed from his reduced minutes and that Moore took shots far less frequently, at a rate of one per 90-minutes, compared to Maynard’s three per-90. By comparison, Telford averaged two shots every game and Lavery three every two games.
Moore was a winger playing up-front, not a striker that has been bred to score goals from an early age. This means that, though Moore will still score, he will bring a winger’s mentality and skill-set to the position.
Under Lowe, Moore regularly teamed up with the wing-back to target the space inside opposition full-backs, as he did against Forest Green to create this chance:
There was a similar moment against Port Vale:
Both of these are examples of Moore bringing his skills as a winger to the striker’s role. And that’s to forget that, as a former-winger, he is quick to accelerate and had a higher top speed than any of the other strikers at Lowe’s disposal last season.
Bury used this to spring attacks with long passes from defence, such as this example against Stevenage. One pass, a flick from Maynard and Moore out-runs the defender to burst through on goal:
The same happened against Swindon. A direct ball, Moore beating the defender to it and racing in behind to score:
And again. Another long ball, Moore using his speed to run in behind the defence before picking out his striker partner Maynard for a tap-in, which he missed…
For those fans who can remember the Sheridan years, consider Byron Moore to have been the Lewis Alessandra to Nicky Maynard’s Reuben Reid. He will score fewer but help his striker partner score more. And while Bury’s team was stocked with creators and most often needed two finishers in the strikers spots, he offered an alternative for Lowe to call upon when needed, as well as a threat on the counter with his speed.
As has been explained already, though Moore has operated predominantly as a winger throughout his career, Lowe converted him into a striker at Bury. Aware of his good attacking movement, speed and finishing, he elected to push him into the central position rather than the wing-back role, which was the other option.
It is possible that Moore could be used as a wing-back for Argyle, but it remains more likely that he will be a striker.
As was explained when analysing Dominic Telford, the job of the strikers in this system is to score goals first and foremost. Whereas football is trending away from goal-scoring strikers and looking to attacking midfielders to provide the finishing touches, Lowe’s style needs the front men to be lethal.
This is potentially a problem for Moore, as he is not that kind of player. Though he can add goals, he is not the sort to score twenty goals a season.
Yet, as well as scoring, it’s important for the Lowe’s strikers to help stretch teams and overload the flanks. Moore can move wide to receive possession, work with the wing-back and central-midfielder to interchange the ball around the opposition defence and create the space either inside the box or on the edge of the area. Mobility, awareness and skill with the ball are vital for this Lowe side, and Moore offers an additional option in this regard. Additionally, he can be relied upon from the bench as opposition defenses tire.
After all, not every player in your squad can be top class. Not only would Argyle’s budget not stretch that far, but overstocking a team with quality – particularly in one position – often leads to heavy rotation or unsettled dressing rooms. Just take a look at the squads that Bury and Bradford have been relegated with in the past two seasons. Both went into the season thinking about a promotion challenge and ended it bottom of the pile.
Instead, having players like Moore can often be vital to a club over a season. With his speed and dribbling, he offers something relatively unique to Argyle’s strike force that will no doubt be important in a number of games across the season at the very least.
All of this is to assume that Moore won’t even be first choice when the season starts at Crewe, despite the fact that both he and Telford are more suited to Lowe’s system than the likes of Ryan Taylor and Joel Grant. The latter two now have tough competition on their hands; the gauntlet has been thrown down.