Today we play our last league game of the month, a 101 mile 2 hour trip to Methil in Fife to face an East Fife team currently doing well in 5th, still with a small squad but have only lost once since Mid-August (2-1 Away to Stenny) so will no doubt give us a hard game.
We have a free weekend beforehand so I’ve set up a friendly v South Shields, in game not in any playable league, IRL currently top of the Northern Premier League, tier 7 of English football.
I’ve not picked this game up for 3 weeks since before Christmas due to both the festivities and illness so I also need the friendly to get to know the team again, what with my FM20 save with Cobh Ramblers ongoing as well. Also the loss to Gretna last time out was a real slap to the face, so time to try out a new tactic – 4-1-2-3 DM Wide Vertical Tiki-Taka.
We are an above average passing team at this level and have good off the ball and first touch (Best in League 2). Lowering the tempo hopefully will allow us to fashion chances more, though we will still press like demons when out of possession. I have the Wingenpress 4-2-3-1 Wide in the back pocket as well, but its always nice to have a second tactic that has a good few differences but isn’t dramatically different structurally.
FT Berwick 4 (Balde 24, Healy 69, Slaven 84, 90+1) South Shields 0
I went Vertical Tiki-Taka in the first half (1-0, lots of possession, safe at the back) and Wingenpress in the 2nd (3-0, less possession, lots of subbage, better cutting edge, safe at the back) so I think the VTT tactic has legs, maybe as a more defensive approach compared to the Wingenpress.
On the same day (24th Oct) our U18 beat Abbey Vale Res in a friendly 1-0, 17 yo Striker Paul McCarthy with the goal.
A couple of days later our Reserves beat Alloa Res 1-0, Archie Gardiner with MotM and the only goal.
So to East Fife we trot. The scout report isn’t mind-blowing, but their best 4 players are considered to be 2 Central defenders, a DM and their GK, maybe a reason why they are doing so well this season.
Back to the tried-and-tested Wingenpress, the boys are fluid in everything but Tempo (Accomplished) and Pressing Intensity (Competent) – We won’t get them up until we are professional as we need the training time for the fitness required for that, so maybe in 3/4 seasons when we are knocking on the Premiership’s door (Granted I doubt I’ll be with Berwick then but who knows??). East Fife are playing a 4-5-1 to good effect at the moment, wll be an intersting one. If we can score early that might unlock the game, otherwise there’s always the chance of an FM sucker-punch.
HT East Fife 0 Berwick 0
In our lovely change strip today, it was a quiet enough start, the packed midfield proving difficult to play through, so I changed the width to very wide, lets see if we can play around it. We had a few good chances with just the East Fife keeper keeping them in the game. Definitely no push-overs, it was 0-0 at the half. Feels like a 1-0, but what way?
FT East Fife 1 (Reilly 90+3) Berwick 1 (Nicolson 90+2) Att 571 (79 Away)
A few tweaks at half time, coming narrower to try and find some channels, Cornelius to CM A, Barr to DLP S, Sutherland to AM S, trying to unlock that central area. Also Balde to sit wider as the IF, again, trying to find channels as he’s often got 3 men on him.
East Fife started brightly, with Allison making a brilliant save from Dowds. Changes on 60, Healy for McLaughlin, Slaven for McGrath. Andy Turner on for Cornelius on 75. Allison really kept us in it. resorting to Get Stuck in, Show some Passion. And a crazy end to the game. 92nd minute, a Berwick Free Kick from Barr headed in by Nicolson. Surely we’d nicked it. But no, straight from the kick off East Fife rallied and 26 seconds later a poor headed clearence by Big Rod was volleyed home by Reilly. 1-1, absolutely gutted. That’s how it finished.
Looking at the match (chances) stats though we appear to have been a bit lucky to even get a point. I’m not happy how just one up top leaves you striker completely alone, I need to think about getting 2 up top some how.
Still clear at the top as Cowdenbeath lost to Annan, but Stenny are coming more into the picture after a good 4-2 win away at Peterhead, who we play next.
Lewis Barr got Player of the Month for League 2 for his 7.7 over 3 games. John Balde got 3rd in the Young Player of the Month (7.73 rating) and I got 3rd in Manager of the Month, Stevie farrell winning it for Stranraer.
That ends October 2020 and this post. Next time we will have the stats for October (W2 D1 in the league, loss to Gretna 2008 in the Scottish Cup), a visit from Peterhead (Only 3 League games coming up in November) and maybe an attempt at going 2 up top again, whilst trying to incorporate Balde – Maybe Asymmetric 4-3-3-ish?? See you then.