I’ve seen statements from Tranmere players talking about their strength, I’ve seen videos of Mark Cooper virtually throwing in the towel at FGR and crucially I’ve seen a calm and collected Danny Cowley joking with the media and acting as if he isn’t in a nail-biting battle for the National League championship. The message from the Imps camp is basically bugger everyone else, our next game is our most important and we should be enjoying these times.
Therefore following our manager’s advice, I shall do the only thing I suspect he’d respect me as a blogger for doing: look ahead to the Bromley game on Saturday afternoon. I’ll not think about FGR, Tranmere or Dagenham because as DC says, what they do is of no concern to us. If we win our remaining games we’ll be rewarded with a place in the Football League. Simple.
Bromley currently sit 15th in the National League, level on points with Sutton United. We may have had defeat snatched away from us at Gander Green Lane, but in front of 7,000 at Sincil Bank this weekend you expect City to take the early lead and then build from there. Bromley may be a decent side with decent players, but as Mark Cooper said the crowd at Sincil Bank is worth a goal or two. Cooper actually said it’s worth 15 points, I think he’s wide of the mark there, after all we’ve lost two at home this season and he’s only lost one in front of around 1,000. I do think it can make a difference, but not 15 points.
Bromley come to the Bank on an abysmal run of form, winning just once in their last nine games. That win came at home against a struggling North Ferriby side who had ten men for 72 minutes of the clash. Their last away win came on December 17th, the same day we beat Tranmere at Sincil Bank. They’ve lost six of their last eight as well and in doing so have scored just four goals, three of which came against North Ferriby. Yes, they’re in free-fall but that is no reason to under-estimate them.
Back in October Harry Anderson gave us the lead just after half time, but a mistake by the much-maligned Tom Champion let in Blair Turgott to grab an equaliser to earn them a 1-1 draw. The are whispers that Harry might be starting this weekend as well, but this time there will be no Champion in midfield to help the opposition out. That doesn’t mean they won’t pose a threat though.
Turgott in particular is one to watch. He’s a former West Ham man who had a promising reputation which he has failed to capitalise on. Spells at Colchester, Orient ad Dagenham haven’t brought him any real success, and he’s probably in last chance saloon at Bromley. His form hasn’t been scintillating, but he is quick and dangerous and as Roarie Deacon showed on Tuesday you don’t have to be in form to be a real danger.
They also boast ex-Imp Joe Anderson, a man who came to epitomise everything wrong with Chris Sutton’s recruitment policy back in the day. Anderson formed an important part of the awful Imps team that were eventually relegated, and he had a starting place for horrific home defeats against Rotherham (6-0) and Gillingham (4-0). He has had some good form with Bromley though, you could argue he has found his level, or rather you could argue after helping us into the National League that his level found him. We know his strengths and weaknesses though and I suspect pace from the flanks will worry him just as much six years on as it did back when we were (for want of a better word) utter crap.
It’s not all bad for Bromley though. They did hold Tranmere 2-2 at Prenton Park and they do have players with plenty of experience. Lee Minshull has Football League experience with Newport County, and George Porter has been around a bit too. They might not have the resilience of Sutton United, the toughness of York City or the togetherness of Guiseley, but they will offer some sort of threat. Bradley Goldberg scored a lot of goals for them in a 2013-14 loan spell, and although he hasn’t recreated that form since joining permanently we’ll have to be aware of his threat too.
I expect what they will try to do is get nine or ten men behind the ball and hope to use the pace of Turgott on the break. Our team selection will be really interesting, because I suspect out and out pace might not be as much of a weapon from the get-go as it will be in the final thirty minutes. There is talk of Harry Anderson starting, but I can see him coming on as an impact sub to test those semi-professional legs as the match wears on. I’m confident that Raggett and Waterfall can get forward leaving Habergham and possibly Long to mop up any breaks that Bromley threaten to have. Once again our set pieces will be as deadly as our open play, and if the two big men can keep getting forward then we’ll pose a real threat.
I wonder if either Elliott Whitehouse or Billy Knott will start behind Rhead and Angol as well. There will be balls in on the diagonal towards Rhead, but the most effective way to break down a resolute defence is to have a plan b already on the pitch, so the opposition don’t know if it’s coming direct or short and intricate. We have struggled at times to break these teams down at home (York being prime examples), and we will have to make superior possession count.
There are no bankers in this division, but when you need points to make a statement to the rest of the league then you don’t get much better opportunities than Bromley at home. Their current form is wretched, over the last six games they’re 23rd in the form table. They are struggling for goals, and in just two fixtures recently they shipped nine, but not since 2012/13 have a team been relegated with more than the 49 points they currently have. They’ll feel they’re clear of relegation, and hence have little but pride to play for.
As for our rivals, well like Danny said who cares what they do? They have games they need to win, games that won’t matter to us one iota if we win ours. Our focus is Bromley, out-of-sorts and with little to play for. On paper it seems like three more points to strengthen our promotion credentials. If only the game was played on paper.