Town could tinker with formation as they look to blunt the Iron
Town may well look to tinker with their formation again against Braintree this evening having altered to a traditional 4-4-2 during recent matches, writes Mark Wood.
Wales U21 international Jake Howells’ versatility has been key to that and boss Paul Buckle doesn’t believe his need to have to constantly adapt has affected him.
He said: “I don’t think so, I think he’s playing brilliantly. I think he’s wanted to play a bit further forward.
“But at home when we really want to go and attack I like him there at left-back.
“It’s a nice balance having him and (Lathaniel) Rowe-Turner there and he can come into the middle and he can play wide left.
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“So Howellsy is a fantastic football and the old saying is if you are top player you can play anywhere, and he certainly fits the bill where that’s concerned.
“If it’s crosses that are required I think JJ (O’Donnell) and Howellsy are both very good and Rowe-Turner can get on the overlap and get crosses in as well.
“Either one. They’ve both got really good left foots and that’s what you need, especially if you are 4-4-2, you are looking to get crosses in.
“We did that second half very well in the last home game and it might be a tactic we try again tomorrow, but at the same time I like continuity and certainly the boys that have been playing of late deserve the opportunity again.”
Braintree battered the Hatters 3-1 in Buckle’s first game in charge last season and is expecting the Iron to make it difficult again, although he believes the cooler and slicker conditions will now help to favour his side.
He said: “I’m one to always concentrate on what we’re doing. I think managers and coaches all around the country with their teams have got enough on their plate and I want to focus on what we’ve got.
“I’m sure they’ll come into the game with nothing to lose and they will try and make things difficult for us.
“I think they’ll maybe sit behind the ball and try and frustrate us and all of those things, but that’s nothing new to us, we’ve seen it all before, I’ve seen it before and we’ve got to deal with it.
“One thing we have to do is play at tempo. I quite like the conditions now, I think the conditions will suit our players.
“Kenilworth Road tomorrow night, right from the word go we’ve got to get out of the blocks, out of the traps and get after them.
“It’s not just going to be about when we’ve got the ball, the tempo comes from pressing, the tempo comes from not giving anyone a minute’s peace.
“That’s what our supporters want to see and like I said the other week if we can get our fans and our players on the pitching bonding together, where they’re giving us what we want and we’re giving them what they want so to speak it’s going to be a tough place for teams to come and play against that.
“He was a top player Alan (Devonshire) and he’s done a great job at Braintree. But it’s about what we do, it’s about making sure that we’ve got all of our players playing to their best, winning individual battles all over the field and earning the right to play.
“After that let’s try and get the first goal and get in front, and kick on because we have laid a marker down in the last three games where we’ve shown good consistency.
“There’s been a lot of different characteristics within those performances and I was delighted with Saturday, thrilled with what I saw Saturday but we must push on now.
“We mustn’t take our foot off the gas, we must kick on and the only way to do that is to keep improving.”
Centre-half has proved a contentious area for the Hatters this season and Buckle looks set to stick with on-loan duo Connor Essam and Simon Ainge after Janos Kovacs missed out against his former club at the weekend.
Buckle added: “I’m looking for my defenders to be really good defenders, clear our lines and win things in the box and like I said the other day, I think the bar has been raised.
“Connor and Simon have shown us how to do it and that’s the benchmark now, that’s where everybody’s got to get to.
“And there’s good competition now at centre-half. There probably wasn’t massive competition beforehand, but now there is.
“Now we’ve got four good centre-halves at the club, plus young (Alex) Lacey and these two are going to take some shifting because they’ve been on form, we’ve won three games and I’m delighted with that part of it.
“Essam and Ainge were outstanding at centre-half (in the 2-1 win at Lincoln on Saturday). Their defensive qualities were there for all to see.
“They defended the box brilliantly for us, real no nonsense defending. We are going to need loads more of that.
“That mixed in with our work ethic throughout the team and the subs that are coming on we’ve got a really good feeling around the place.
“It’s a fantastic atmosphere and a good togetherness - what you need to win games.
“It’s OK having tactics and skill but it’s nothing without that togetherness and we really feel we are getting somewhere now with that.”