Possession concession – but we’re still scoring plenty and up to 2nd

I’m nearing the halfway mark in my first season in charge of Grimsby Town on FM16 (still in beta, by the way). Despite a mini wobble when I lost two consecutive games against Halifax and Torquay, things are going pretty well. After 21 games I’m second in the table, just one point behind Macclesfield – but it’s congested below me, with Lincoln just four points behind me in 8th.

Any new bugs or weird things to report?

Apart from early goals, low average ratings for central midfielders and ex-players almost guaranteed to score against you… there’s not too much to add to the list. One thing I will say is that it seems remarkably difficult to win the possession game. Despite playing a pretty standard 4-4-2 with the side instructed to keep the ball and pass it short, I’ll typically see my possession hovering around the 40-45% mark, even against the worst teams in the league.

And no matter what you do against some sides, it just seems like they’re conditioned to pepper your goal. I managed to concede 10 shots in my home match against Cheltenham inside the first 10 minutes, which is something I’ve not seen before.

Then again, everything that I’ve flagged up about FM16 so far could well be down to the tactics I’m employing. I’ve never regarded myself as an expert in that department (hence 4-4-2), but when I compare myself to my good friend Stu, who up until recently was playing every match in real time and finishing every season in 15th place with Gainsborough, I could argue I’m prolific.

Decent league form

I’m not keeping as many clean sheets as I would like, but I’m scoring my fair share of goals. Bogle and Amond are winning me games, and even when I’ve introduced Pittman from the bench, or given him a start, he’s contributing too. Although I was outplayed by Cheltenham (one of the clutch of teams hovering in and around the play-offs) I recorded a 2-0 win, which was much needed after that little wobble I mentioned earlier.

So this is what the league table is looking like at the moment:

Screenshot of National League table, Grimsby 2ndOnly Tranmere have scored more than me, and with us both being so strong up front I guess you could say it was obvious that we would both draw blanks when we met at Blundell Park. Anyone who is currently in the top half would say they had a chance of reaching the play-offs at this stage.

Guiseley are propping up the league with 14 points and look good bets for relegation already. Just above them are Aldershot and Bromley on 17 points, with Braintree (21) completing the bottom four. Barrow and Woking are just above them.

Here are our results since the last update:

Screenshot of Grimsby fixturesThe 2-0 defeat at Southport came as a bit of a surprise. I’ve had some excellent results on the road (5-1 at Braintree and 4-1 at Barrow) while there was a comfortable passage into the FA Cup 1st round against Blyth – although they did give me a scare by scoring first (and yes, it was an early goal – first shot on target and all that shizz).

The home game against Maidenhead was ridiculous. I had 24 shots at goal, 13 on target and yet they took the lead in the 70th minute. Luckily Pittman scored near the end to rescue a replay, which was hard fought (but we won in the end through an Amond brace).

Midfielder Craig Clay got sent off in the home Halifax defeat for a two-footed lunge. He was banned for three matches, and then it was extended by another match on review – I didn’t even appeal it. He was fined and dumped in the reserves.

New players

Just the one addition since last time – I’ve managed to bring Luton’s central midfielder Alex Lawless in on loan for three months. He’s sort of a replacement for Matty Dixon, who’s returned to Hull. Dixon did ok (the fans loved him for some reason, despite coming from a rival) but already Lawless looks better. At 30 years old he brings a lot of experience.

And Scott Brown, a midfielder I’ve had all along, has begun to get back into the side after a long lay-off (basically since the game started). Another one who’s integrating back into the starting XI is right winger Marcus Marshall. He went out on loan to Solihull Moors to get some match fitness and has done well when given a chance in the first team (albeit against Maidstone).

Here are the squad stats so far this season. Clay isn’t included as he’s still being punished in the reserves, and I forgot about that when I took the screenshot:

Screenshot of Grimsby's player statsThe only ever present this season is keeper James McKeown, although left back Gregor Robertson has featured in every match so far (with one appearance coming from the bench). I could do with some back-up in that department as Danny East plays much better at right back. Arnold has impressed with 8 assists from the left wing, and Mackreth has weighed in with 5 from the right. Monkhouse and Cofie remain useful from the bench.

I’ve got a couple of tricky league games up next, and then a tough FA Cup 2nd round match at League 1 Gillingham. The next time I play the game it’ll probably be in the full release, as the game is officially launched tomorrow (Friday 13th November).

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