Lincoln City boss Michael Skubala has had a decent start to his tenure as Imps boss, with just one defeat in six League One matches.
However, his side have struggled in an attacking sense, never more so than in the weekend’s fixture against Reading. The Imps didn’t have a shot on target, drawing 1-1 courtesy of an own goal from Royal’s defender Nelson Abbey.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s short trip to Pride Park to face Derby County, Skubala admitted his side needs to do better in an attacking sense but that the struggles were not through a want of trying.
“They’ve worked hard,” he said of his players against Reading. “The stats are telling us they’re working hard. I think sometimes we just need to be a bit smarter in how we work, where we work, and how we change the intensity in the game without the ball; when we do have the ball, how do we be better on it and have spells?
“I thought over the last couple of games, we’ve had good halves and not-so-good halves, but we’ve always had spells where we’ve had a little bit of possession.”
Supporters at the LNER Stadium may be pushed to spot the spell the Imps had against a pacey and attacking Reading side, and Skubala admitted his side will need to improve on that if they’re to maintain their strong position in League One.
“We really struggled to get hold of the ball on Saturday, so we need to do better going forward with that. They’re still learning how I want to do things.
“When I came in, I said it’s an evolution. It’s not a revolution. And within that, there will be peaks and troughs, and we have to be patient.”
Despite the seemingly negative result against Reading, the Imps are undefeated since November 18th in the league, Skubala’s opening game. They’ve cemented themselves into a spot just outside the playoffs and travel to Derby having not lost to the Rams away from home in the league since 1985.
However, the Imps are without a win in the league since beating Cambridge before the international break and face a tough Christmas spell. Bolton Wanderers are the guests on Boxing Day, with a challenging trip to Blackpool on New Year’s Day; in between, Jon Brady’s Northampton visit LN5.
There won’t be many fans disagreeing that Lincoln’s attacking threat needs to improve – they have the second-fewest touches in the box across League One despite their lofty position. It’s not a problem Skubala has developed, but one he has inherited from the previous head coach, Mark Kennedy.
It is worth noting that their two first-choice strikers, Tyler Walker and Ben House, suffered long-term injuries in September, and summer signing Reeco Hackett, another who would start up front, has also been out for a couple of months. They’re fielding 19-year-old Jovon Makama at present, whose previous senior experience has been a handful of matches for Brackley.
Stats suggest Lincoln will pick up as players return or new faces come in, and the Skubala way begins to take effect. However, tomorrow night at Pride Park may be a little too early for that!