Last time: Flight Of The Concords: Part 5
Thanks to a bit of a cup run, our financial woes have eased somewhat. We’re still in the red, but being chosen as the Monday night TV game in the First round really helped:
We’ve moved up from “Insecure” to “OK”. Big step.
We almost didn’t make it that far. Our 4th qualifying round game at home to Weston-super-Mare was insipid, and we were fortunate to win it 1-0.
We were lucky against Gateshead too, but a late game burst of vigour led us to our second victory over Gateshead this season, and a second round tie away at Southend.
I thought there’d be more excitement about playing against a League One side from down the road, and perhaps if we’d been at home there would’ve been. In the end, Simon Cox bagged a hat-trick to put us to the sword. There was no shame in defeat, and the 120 odd grand earned from the Cup run is huge.
So how’s the league going?
Fairly well. With a very obvious home/away split. And our performances don’t quite justify the results we’ve got. Many of our wins should’ve been draws.
When we’ve used it, our 4141 hasn’t looked very good, with the striker being completely isolated, and if the defensive midfielder is adding any solidity, it’s been negligible to the point of invisibility. With either of our formations, we’ve been prone to concessions on the counter, especially following questionable passing decisions by our players. Opposition wingers are too frequently finding space behind our full backs and putting the ball on a silver platter for their forwards.
It may seem strange to change tactics whilst exceeding expectations, but watching these last ten to fifteen games has been arduous. Chris Lewington has saved us with great saves in multiple games, and our goalposts must be larger than regulation…
Even in the 6-3 win against Solihull Moors, we were repeatedly carved open by one of the worst teams in the division. I’m trying to make a change before our luck runs out.
With leaders Sutton United our next opponents, I’ve drawn up a new tactical plan. Going with a 442, but on defensive mentality.
I’ve not used defensive mentality before, fearing it would be too negative, but we need to do something to try and tighten our defence, and to try and get something out of games against bigger clubs – we have a tough run ahead, with plenty of away games.
We’ll also be trying to play a patient, fairly cautious style. A lot of the goals we concede are coming from our own errors, which makes sense – we don’t have the best players! So we’re going to try and reduce our own mistakes by lowering the tempo, playing shorter, safer passes and working the ball into the box. We’ll be dropping deeper, as we lack pace in defence, and play in a more disciplined fashion, again, to reduce cock-ups.
It has gone amazingly well. In the last eight games, we’ve played seven of the top ten, so to only lose once is incredible, especially with five away trips.
The new tactic has improved a lot of things as planned. We’ve been more defensively sound, committed fewer daft errors, and avoided the kind of counter attacks that we were previously so vulnerable to. There’s something very satisfying about seeing more talented sides struggle to break through our disciplined banks of four.
And we actually look more accomplished in attack too. Whereas previously we were often wasteful in possession, the more patient, probing approach is leading to higher quality chances, and seems to particularly suit our forwards, who are thriving off of more considered service. But we’re not one dimensional. By sitting back relatively deep, we have occasionally hit opponents with counter attacks of our own, utilising Garner’s pace to good effect. Having him as an advanced forward was something I was unsure of in this system, but seems to be effective.
Femi “Heskey” Akinwande has got past his long goal drought too, with seven in six.
He had run his heart out for us before, and provided assists, but wasn’t getting anywhere near a goal.
After 28 games, our league position has given me a nosebleed:
I’m not getting cocky mind. Whilst a play-off run would be great, I’d still be more than satisfied with a safe mid-table position. Really glad not to be facing a relegation dogfight!
In my delight at how things are going, I’ve signed a new contract:
And I’ve taken the first step towards becoming a Concord Rangers legend: