We started this match in the usual 3 5 2 when we have the ball and 5 3 2 when we don't formation. Indeed the start was bright with Goulding firing wide after being put through on goal and Bradbury, up for a corner, had a close range shot smartly saved by Burch in the Lincoln goal. However, confident Lincoln started to gain control and in particular were managing to move Bartley and Hollands out of position to expose Bradbury and Cummings to several runners. Bradbury is not a natural defender and Cummings is not the player he was before his broken leg so this caused us many problems. Guyett and Pearce did not know whether or not to move out to support their wingback or to stay and mark a striker in the box. With Cooper as a spare man they should really move out.
It was from one such instance that the Lincoln goal was scored. A great forward crossfield pass from right to left exposed Bradbury to the onrushing Beevers who went past him easily and Guyett's weak challenge before setting up John-Lewis to score confidently past Jalal. Lincoln could now (and did) tighten up in midfield knowing that when they did get the ball they could pull us around with ease. We did get the ball in the net via Pitman's close range effort but it was disallowed for Guyett's earlier push as he leapt for Anderton's corner. Apart from Hollands' wild shot over this was the sum of our efforts to get back into the match. There were far too many aimless long balls often towards Pitman, who is not comfortable as a target man, and not at Goulding who is. On the balance of play we did not deserve to be behind at half time but on the level of quality we did.
AFCB came out for the second half with determination but not much improvement in quality. Lincoln were pinned back in their defensive third for much of the half but Burch was not disturbed very often. With most crosses going in from the wrong angles ie 20 or so yards out rather than from the bye line defending for the Lincoln centre backs was far too easy. Hollands header was about our only attempt on target and this was easily saved. Lincoln actually had the best chance to score in the half during one of their rare forays forward. Bradbury's headed clearance only made it to 15 or so yards from goal from where Frecklington blazed over the bar. There is not much else to say about the second half so I will not bother trying to come up with anything.
The 3 5 2 formatuion that we are playing is the one that suits the players that appear to form the first team best of all. In particular when Igoe is fit he can cause defences problems with his intelligent running but the other players need to understand that they need to be up in support more quickly. It is also concerning that opponents appear to have worked out how to expose the formation as mentioned above in my report. The midfield in particular needs to hold their positions more stringently and allow Cooper as the spare man to step out and break up attacks, his reading of the game is good enough to do this. Also Anderton's lack of pace is hampering defence in the middle of the park. With the ball he is a great asset but without it he can be a liability. To succeed we may need to bite the bullet and go with three highly mobile midfielders and leave the creativity to Cooper and Igoe. Molesley has looked impressive in the few times that I have seen him and may be worth a try alongside Hollands and Bartley.
AFCB: Jalal, Cummings, Pearce, Cooper, Guyett, Bradbury, Hollands, Anderton, Bartley, Pitman, Goulding
Subs: McQuoid, Sturrock, Igoe (for Anderton, 74 mins), Ward (for Bradbury, 85 mins), Molesley (for Bartley, 85 mins)
Phil Nesbitt, Acocks Green