Well that was alright wasn’t it? Whacking in six against the, admittedly poor, opposition is always fun. On paper, the next fixture is easier but football rarely works out that way. Here are some things to look out for:
1) The U’s (All Cambridge United stats are League only)
A quick look at the table and form guide suggests Cambridge won’t be posing too much threat to the rampant League leaders. They sit 23rd and have lost their last 4, picking up just 1 point in their last 7 games. What’s more, they have the League’s worst goal difference (-15, we hold the best with +17). They’re struggling at both ends of the pitch with a weak 11 goals scored in 13 and concede an average of 2 a game (2.3 on the road).
Judging from the highlights of their last game, it won’t be a walkover, however. They caused MK Dons some real problems and it seems they were unlucky to come away with nothing. This will be little consolation for another defeat though and the U’s will need to start converting performances to points if they’re to find another team as well as Macclesfield worse than them. An impressive performance against a strong side will surely increase belief in the camp coming into one of the toughest fixtures in their campaign.
Interestingly, manager Joe Dunne made just 1 substitution last time out and that was in the 89th minute. In the previous League game, he also made just the 1 late switch. Previously, however, he had always used at least 2 of his 3. Perhaps this is a sign that the team are starting to click and the first XI are building some rhythm?
2) Set pieces
There have been murmurings of how our set pieces haven’t been as effective recently. I would argue that the last game shows we can still be deadly and we’re merely still learning how best to utilise the new squad. In the Port Vale game, all of the 8 goals scored came restarts with us scoring from 4 corners, 1 throw-in and 1 goal kick. The hosts notched from a free-kick and penalty. This particularly surprised me as both teams played some tidy stuff at times.
This thrashing means that we have now scored 15 goals from dead-ball situations – 44% of our total. Something that strikes me when I look at our goals scored is how we don’t simply chuck it into the danger area and hope one of our giants gets their head on it. Since the early days under the Cowleys, we’ve worked on using multiple touches in the box from set pieces – think Waterfall teeing up Raggett. So far this campaign, City players have notched 9 assists from the centre of the 18-yard box with Rhead and Akinde providing 2 of these each. In fact, of our 8 goals from corners, only 4 have been the simple corner taker crossing directly to scorer with 3 of those 4 the result of Port Vale failing to catch onto what was happening.
3) A late goal
We all know about this one. Lincoln City under the Cowleys don’t stop until the final whistle. Our aptitude in the closing stages is probably the result of multiple factors caused by relentless work on the training ground. It’s paying dividends. So far this campaign, we’ve already scored 12 goals after the 75 minutes mark; that’s 35% of our total. In fact, in League Two alone, the Imps have scored as many goals after 75 minutes as Grimsby and Cheltenham have managed in total (9). That’s a nice one to finish on.