Back to winning ways and now time for a real test. The ever-divisive MK Dons are next to visit the increasingly-fearsome Sincil Bank. Here are some things to look out for:
1) Who is in net
News broke this week that original first-choice ‘keeper Josh Vickers is back in contention. This poses the obvious question of if he returns to his position at the top of the pecking order or has to bide his time for a return to the first team. This decision is made more difficult by the fact that Grant Smith’s performances have become increasingly promising of late. He looked far more composed against Macclesfield and may well feel hard done by to drop to the bench.
As it stands, Smith has played 55% of the total minutes available so far with Vickers managing 27% before his injury and Sam Slocombe holding the remaining 18%. Although there isn’t a massive sample size for this data, especially in terms of Slocombe, the stats so far reaffirm Vickers’ position as the prime candidate. In less than half as many minutes, Josh faced just 1 shot fewer than Smith and conceded half as many. Vickers’ save percentage is 85% while Smith’s is 71%. Due to the 6 conceded in Slocombe’s 2 outing, his current record is 50%. For context, last season Vickers scored 74%, Farman scored 65%, and Allsop scored 67% from almost identical numbers of shots.
2) Can we break them down?
While our boys have certainly performed well so far, MK Dons pose a tough challenge. Amongst many people’s, including my own, predictions for promotion candidates, they’ve had an interesting start. What is evident is that they are hard to beat; they’re unbeaten in the League outings. However, they’ve not demonstrated the killer instinct required to be genuine challengers, 4 of their last 5 League games have ended in draws. While looking at the goals scored column doesn’t provide too much concern, they’ve conceded just 4 times in the League; the best defensive record.
We hold the 2nd best defensive record in the division but importantly also hold the 3rd best attack in terms of goals per game (we’ve scored 1 more than Yeovil but played an extra game). It will be interesting to see if the Cowleys decide to mix up our attack to try and surprise the so-far defiant back line of the visitors.
3) The same boys out wide
If you’d have asked me in pre-season to predict the player with the 2nd most minutes played at this stage, I wouldn’t have said Harry Anderson. Not that I don’t like Harry, he’s actually a favourite of mine, but the wing is a position where teams tend to rotate more for fresh legs and different styles. However, Harry has played 85% of the action so far, falling behind only Toffolo (91%) whose score is no doubt boosted by Sam Habergham’s absence. While his undeniable rawness can frustrate, he offers something different and when he has a good spell he can be devastating as we all know. On the other flank, Bruno Andrade will surely not be rotated after his scintillating performance last week.
Luque’s loan departure also indicated that we’re not going to be crazy with winger rotation and I expect to see the same duo start if we opt for attacking wingers flanking Akinde again. So far, Harry and Bruno have provided 1 goal and 2 assists each, the same record as Tom Pett. Both came close to scoring last week and Bruno’s corner led to the winner; they will no doubt be keen to convert promising starts into direct contributions.