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GSutton

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About GSutton

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  1. It has not been a bad September for the Brakes. We took five points from five games – a minor improvement on six from seven the previous month – and each of our games have provided unique challenges. Farsley Celtic (A) – drew 1-1 A pleasing night’s work in West Yorkshire. Farsley are one point off the top seven, so to effectively triple their shot and shot on target count is fantastic. I felt like this was one of our better performances from a tactical perspective. I wanted to try to re-create the blueprint that allowed us to beat Kettering 4-1, but also make sure we nullified Farsley’s wing-backs – Jordan Richards and Will Hayhurst. For that reason, I put mentality on positive, passing to short and had a high line of engagement, but got Watters and Anderson to man mark Hayhurst and Richards, so that we were defensively secure. I didn’t want English and Morley closing down the wing-backs, because I feared that would lead to two-on-two scenarios; their midfield three struggled to find space against our trio as well, so we nullified them superbly in open play. The one concern would be that we’ve looked a little bit vulnerable defending set pieces in the last few games, pretty much since Chester. Great to see Callum Maycock rate 7.3 though and score our opener… he’s having a strong campaign so far. Gloucester City (H) – won 2-1 Although Gloucester were 7th pre-match, I felt optimistic about this one: partly because of the performance at Farsley on Tuesday and partly because I feel I’ve nailed down a strong tactic for home games against 4-4-2 outfits. We got off to a flyer with Storer scoring a header from Morley’s corner and then Clarke picked out a lovely ball in behind for McFarlane, who produced a cool finish. I stuck with a positive mentality right up until the finale and while that did give Gloucester chances to counter-attack against us, as they did for Gerry McDonagh’s goal, we had the upper hand in general play. We’re now five games unbeaten, four points above the drop zone and 1/5th of the way to the 50 point mark. Ticking along nicely. Guiseley (A) – drew 2-2 Mixed emotions. On the one hand, disappointed to concede an equalizer in the fourth minute of added time, especially having held a two-goal lead going into the final quarter of the game. On the other hand, I would have snapped your hand off for a point after Jack Storer was sent off in the seventh minute for a two-footed lunge. We did incredibly well to keep playing our short passing game with 10 men for the rest of that first half and build up a two goal lead through set pieces. Naturally, the second half was always going to be a "backs to the wall" affair and while it’s a shame we couldn’t quite hold out for all three points, the draw still means we are now six games unbeaten. Kidderminster (H) – lost 3-2 “You either win or you learn. Today we learnt.” – Ralph Hasselhuttl, speaking after his first game in charge of Southampton. One of my aims as Brakes boss is to ensure that any time the team loses, I learn a lesson that will help my management of future games. In this case, there were two: 1) Instruct technically limited full-backs to play more direct passes. Junior English’s performances had come in for question, so I handed a rare start to 18-year-old Shay Nicholson, who has some good physical attributes but is very raw in possession. He tried a risky pass to centre-back James Mace, but that was intercepted by Kidderminster forward Harry Cardwell and Austin Samuels nipped in ruthlessly to slot home. 2) Assign centre-backs man marking jobs. Although we led until the 77th minute, I always felt we looked vulnerable from crosses and so it proved with Cardwell’s two goals. It could be that instructing the team collectively to man mark Cardwell and Samuels, but not assigning specific markers, led to ambiguity that the opposing strikers profited from at key moments. It was disappointing to lose the game late on, having twice taken the lead, but we scored another two goals from set pieces and, especially in the first half, didn’t look out of place against a side that subsequently went top of the league. Redditch United (H) – won 3-0 One of the board’s key objectives for the season was to reach the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round, so it was great to beat Redditch, from the division below, so comfortably. We were peppering them throughout the first half and continuing to threaten from set pieces, so I was never really concerned, even though it took us until the 40th minute to break the deadlock through a fine strike from Joe Clarke, who had an excellent game. I put Harry England in for Jack Lane and the youngster continues to take his chances, I’m getting increasingly tempted to give him a chance in league games – there’s not a great deal between them attribute wise. Jack Storer had a great game as well and it’s a shame he’s suspended for three matches in the league, because I feel we need his athleticism and frame as an out-ball from deep – Kaiman Anderson doesn’t quite offer the same physicality when he plays as an inverted winger. Kings Lynn (A) – lost 3-1 For the first time this season, we were completely outplayed. We’ve shown that we can thrive significantly against 4-4-2 outfits, but Kings Lynn’s diamond system really threw us a curveball. Our back-four can deal with two orthodox strikers on their own, but when you put a skilled attacking midfielder behind them like Chris Henderson, it has thrown us off-kilter. We haven’t yet played with DMs due to youngster England being the only natural option in the squad and maybe that limits us when negating AMs. The other problem is that, as per my post-Kiddy notes, I assigned centre-backs Mace and Lane specific man marking duties but that meant they both got dragged out of position at will; Adam Marriott and Dayle Southwell pulled us apart left, right and centre. Regarding the type of marking system in place, perhaps I need to consider the nature of the threat of the opposition. For example, perhaps man-for-man marking might have worked better against a crossing side like Kidderminster, then maybe a more flexible form of man marking might have fared better against a more fluid, narrow outfit like Kings Lynn. Ian Culverhouse’s troops play with a diamond system which I tried to exploit by starting a classic winger on the right, so I handed Connor Taylor his first start of the season (with Anderson filling in for the suspended Storer on the left), but that backfired – I may have been better off starting Watters. We only started playing when we were three behind, when I adopted a more adventurous mentality – I’m wondering about starting ‘positive’ from now on for every game, even away to a top side. Summary Four of our games have come against top seven opposition – the other one, at Guiseley, we played 83 minutes with 10 men. On paper, we’re only three points above the drop zone, but I feel our performances have deserved a little bit more than what we’ve got. Out of the 12, we’ve had seven performances that I’d say I’m happy with, three that were at least competitive and two no-shows at Altrincham and Kings Lynn. Up next in the league, we have two more top seven opponents – surprise packages Hereford and Curzon Ashton – but on the plus side, both play 4-4-2 and I feel we know how to play against that formation. Those games sandwich an FA Cup Second Qualifying Round trip to Enfield; a good run in that competition would certainly help us in January, when we will be looking to bring in one or two loanees who could really lift the squad. #SparringForSuccess
  2. It's been a steady start for Leamington. We have taken six points from seven games, leaving us 17th in the table at the end of August and thus far on track to avoid a relegation battle. Jack Edwards has been terrific for me in midfield, offering impeccable work rate whilst providing a very useful reference point, which has at times paid dividends from set pieces. York (A) - lost 1-0 One of the key things I learnt from that game was that setting up with a low line of engagement can be counter-productive, because you can end up inviting pressure - so I changed that quite early on. Otherwise, I was pleased with aspects of the display; we competed well centrally and certainly had our moments. Not setting up to close down their WBs ultimately counted against us for their winner - but managing 10 shots away to the side tipped to be champions is ok. Chester (H) - drew 1-1 We could easily have beaten Chester. We outshot them 12-5, had 8 shots on target to 4 and had two clear cut chances to none - again, this is against the side tipped to finish second. The Seals got a scarcely deserved 2nd half lead through Anthony Dudley’s long ranger, which was very much out of the blue. That goal made me question my thinking in having 3 central midfielders - Joe Clarke, Jack Edwards and Callum Maycock - rather than 2 CMs and 1 defensive midfielder, although our only player listed as being able to play DM is Harry England, who is only 17... we probably missed someone in that anchor man role closing down shots from range, which could be something to look at in future transfer windows. Anyway, that slight glitch should not detract from an otherwise encouraging evening... because the substitutes worked. I switched from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 as striker Joe Parker made a difference... him and partner Kyle McFarlane had more freedom to roam into the channels and the latter's movement created space for another sub, Kaiman Anderson, to hit a sublime left-footed leveller - which was particularly surprising as he's predominantly right-footed. It was an important goal which allowed us to meet our initial target of one point from two tough opening games. Gateshead (A) - lost 2-1 The first 20 minutes at Gateshead were excellent. Composed midfielder Callum Gittings, who I'd brought into the side after a positive substitute appearance in midweek, scored a lovely early volley. Watters skewed a tight-angled one-on-one chance just wide of the far post and Edwards hit the bar with a header, so we could conceivably have been three up! Heed Army heeded the warning signs though and they came back into it, while we shot ourselves in the foot through individual errors. Edwards shoved Dom Tear for their penalty, from which Ruairi Keating levelled just before the break. After the interval, Stephan Morley and Jack Lane missed chances to head a corner clear and Jake Cooper nodded home, but still we pushed and had our chances. McFarlane had a back-post equalizer disallowed and Edwards forced Bradley James into a very good stop at his far post, so we could very easily have won this match on the basis of how we started it and finished it. If we can fine-tune small details and put a 90-minute performance together, we're not a million miles off a top half side. Altrincham (A) - lost 2-0 In our worst display to date, this was a disappointing backward step after a couple of decent displays. Although Altrincham only got ahead on 81 minutes, I always felt like we were massively riding our luck and had needed last ditch defending to keep them out up to that point. We really struggled to handle right winger Craig Mahon and left-back Sean Graham, for whom I’d considered a loan move from Blackpool in the summer. Alty look good for a top seven finish though, so we won't be dwelling on this one too much. Kettering (H) - won 4-1 Wow! This was a hugely satisfying afternoon - a first win of the season and in emphatic style. I made three key changes to get this result: 1) change the mentality from 'balanced' to 'positive' 2) change the passing from 'standard' to 'short' 3) bring Max Watters in for Kainan Anderson. The latter is very much a classic right winger whereas Watters, left-footed, will drift into pockets a bit more and I felt we'd have some joy in those areas between the lines - the fact Kettering play a 4-4-2 suggested there would be opportunities to create central overloads. Although we were punished on the break early on through a lapse from Stephan Morley, we had played so well in that opening period that I had a lot of confidence that the chances and goals would come - and that, they did. McFarlane, Edwards, Maycock and Storer all got in on the act in a really fluent performance - a sign of what we can do when playing to our very, very best. Blyth Spartans (H) - drew 1-1 Although I didn’t want to disrupt the synergy of what had worked superbly against Kettering, Blyth play 4-1-2-3 and I didn’t know if we’d be able to create those same central overloads against a team that has a DM. I therefore moved Anderson back in for Watters to try to exploit some extra space and give their left-back, Callum Preston, a tough time. It didn't quite work as hoped. Winger Adam Wrightson caused us all sorts of problems down their right; he set up veteran Robbie Dale’s first half opener. We only managed the one shot on target – luckily Joe Parker bailed us out from the bench, not for the first time this season. In many ways, this was a missed opportunity to build on the momentum of that glorious display against Kettering - especially in another home game against a Blyth side likely to struggle. The performance was hugely anti-climactic from that perspective. On the other hand, we've found ourselves on the wrong side of fine margins in several other games, so I suppose I don't mind us having an off day and still being able to put a point in our bucket. Telford (H) - drew 1-1 It's rather odd that we could muster just one shot on target against lowly Blyth, yet managed eight against a Telford United side flying high. Ok, the Bucks threatened from set pieces but we could have won this one, with 16 shots to 15 - we looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Switching from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 (with advanced wide men) when behind has now twice clawed us a point from a losing positions and that is testament to the regular impact of Joe Parker, who I'll probably hand a start to at Farsley Celtic next time out. It was Edwards who headed home our leveller, though, from Morley’s free-kick - JE is 15 on heading so I'd recommend anyone who manages the breaks to devise a set piece tactic that will maximize his aerial ability. Summary We have a tough September in store with four of the embryonic top 10 to play. I’d be content if we’re in the same position by the end of the month, but we’ve been in every game this season and if we can start to get closer to our Kettering levels on a more consistent basis, as well as sharpen up on certain details at both ends, then perhaps we can start to climb the table. We're already seven points off the Play-Off places and I'm not quite sure we've got enough in the tank to get there this year, especially considering the lack of depth, but equally I'm confident we can put some distance between ourselves in the bottom two and reach the 50 mark nice and early.
  3. Thanks for the heads-up Mark, this has been edited accordingly.
  4. With a wafer thin squad and a modest budget, my aim as a 27-year-old rookie is to steer Leamington to a comfortable season of consolidation - alongside hopefully an FA Cup run to generate much-needed income. Expectations are grounded, even if we had a broadly encouraging pre-season. We drew 2-2 at Leiston as Jack Edwards was sent off just after HT, then thrashed #Southam 4-0 with Callum Maycock bagging a brace including a belter from distance. The unquestionable highlight was winning 3-0 against an Ebbsfleet side tipped for 9th in the National League South with 17 former EFL players – we limited them to just 1 shot, a hopeful sign that we can compete? The Brakes outshot National League side Hartlepool 18-12 too but alas, they showed their individual quality in a 3-1 win. In terms of transfers, the one area where there was no contractually agreed first teamer was right wing. Kaiman Anderson had played well in pre-season but is technically listed as a fringe player so, with room in the budget for only one luxury signing, AMR was the area I choose. I added Max Watters on loan from Doncaster, hoping he will give us a bit of star quality and, as an inside forward, confuse defences accustomed to facing orthodox wingers. He has a rare combination at this level of pace and flair - 18 on determination too! I'm excited to see what he can do. With negligible room left in the budget, I signed two 17-year-old centre-backs – Harry England and Charlie Blanks – initially on non-contract deals, to offer alternative natural options to Jack Lane and James Mace. I had been advised to go direct at this level previously but tend to find on FM20, that means relinquishing possession and inviting pressure, plus this squad does not have a classic target man to make it work, so I've gone with something a bit different… Attached is my 4-3-3 setup that I intend to use at York City on day 1; although we shall have a low line of engagement and will look to transition quickly, the passing is short so our counter-attacks can be constructed with some accuracy. York are likely to play a 3-4-1-2 and we are hoping that will leave a chasm between their defence and midfield which our quintet of midfielders and wide forwards can utilize for spells, to hold onto the ball in the opposing half. We won't be freeing up Junior English and Stephan Morley in open play; rather, we will ask FBs to hold metaphorical hands with CBs to deny York's strikers 2-on-2 scenarios. Edwards, although a box-to-box midfielder, has been handed a man marking job to limit Adriano Moke’s influence. Ex-league clubs York and Chester are tipped to finish 1st and 2nd with far bigger budgets than us Brakes, so it'll be a baptism of fire. With a more appealing run of three consecutive home fixtures to come in late August, we'd be content with 1 point from those two as a small step towards our ultimate target of 50 points. Wish me luck!
  5. Hi folks, After the first goal in the first league game in my save, the game isn't kicking off again. Jordan Ayew repeatedly feigns to kick-off but the ball doesn't actually move and when it's on play, I'm seeing the same one-second motion over and over again. Both the game and my computer are brand new so I'm wondering if this is common and if so, what the advised solution might be. Thanks!
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