City fans will be expecting a solid result against Fleetwood Town today at Sincil Bank, despite the latter’s recent surge in form, writes Tom Morton.
It has been a challenging season for the Fishermen, who’ve sat in the relegation zone since the fourth game and in January slipped to the bottom of the table. In the last few weeks, they have seen some better form picking up two wins and a draw.
The transfer season has been tough. Whilst top scorer Jayden Stockley stayed, they lost close-second Jack Mariott to Wrexham. Also heading out was defender Josh Earl, who went to Barnsley for an undisclosed fee. In a relegation battle, some of this is to be expected but it’s tough to lose first-team regulars like that.
Incomings have included Harry Boyes on his next loan spell from Sheffield United. We’re unlikely to see the former Imp loanee because he is yet to establish himself in the matchday squad. It looks like manager Charlie Adam has focused on bolstering a weak defence, bringing in five defenders during the window.
One positive signing for them has been Ronan Coughlan, on a free from Waterford. The Irish striker has made a real impact, clearly stepping into the shoes of the departing Mariott and picked up two goals across the last two outings.
Last week’s game against Bristol Rovers was, in particular, a good result for the Fishermen. A week earlier they beat Port Vale in a relegation battle, but Bristol are a much better team (currently two places above us) so we need to keep that in mind and not get overconfident.
That said, their away form is poor. Despite an xG of 1.27 goals per game, they’ve managed just 1.13. Likewise, an xGA of 1.58 translates to a reality of 1.67 goals conceded per game. Worth saying, that even the predictions say they should be losing games, and they’ve managed to lose them worse! It’s certainly true that away from home they’ve conceded two or three goals regularly this season.
From highlights, you can see the threat Stockley, who is an excellent player at this level, and now Coughlan does pose. Fleetwood loves a big looping ball into the box to find one of the centre men. We’ll need to protect the wide areas a bit more today and close down the overlap – particularly because they like to cut inside and flick a fairly long-range ball into the box.
At the back, they do look weaker (for comparison; they’ve scored one less goal than us, but conceded twenty more). They struggle against pacey breaks and just generally look slow to the ball at the back. They are not shy to put their hands on players (or the ball!) either, with Wycombe picking up two penalties against them a few weeks ago. I think this is the sort of backline that Draper will relish a battle with and House and Taylor will likely be able to break through.
Last time out with Fleetwood we turned them over 1-0, with Mitchell scoring the goal. That was back in October and obviously, a lot has changed. Despite Fleetwood’s spark of form, many will be expecting the last few weeks of positive changes to come to fruition in a big scoreline.