Andrew Abbott's Blog

Saturday, 13 October 2018

We know what to expect. Translation. We know what to expect as long as Lincoln City play like they did last season.

Port Vale ought to have known what to expect, they shipped four goals last time, this time it was six. The gap between the teams should have been greater but for an uncharacteristic slip up and a referee exercising a bizarre handicap system based on sympathy presumably.

It’s becoming a reassuring aspect of the build up to a game, a manager or player claiming to be well aware of what the Imps are about this season, then showing they have no idea as they describe a playing style that got City out of the National League. Not that it matters really as, ready or not mostly they are shoved out of the way (Port Vale, Exeter) or huff and puff to little effect (Crewe). On each occasion the manager normally has his excuses ready by the Thursday before the game or if not maybe a mealy mouth justification. We won on points, we’re the guardians of the spirit of the game, not like those ruffians from Lincoln. Either way, City remain four points clear of the next contender taking advantage of clear waters ahead.

Looking forward a little and I’ll admit here that I got this idea from Tommo on BBC Radio Lincolnshire, it will not be all that long to the Christmas programme and a time when complacency has to be avoided. It is quite clear now that Lincoln City have the best squad and certainly the best management team. In order to maintain their supremacy City need to be thinking how things can stay that way by carefully adding to the strength of the player roster. Carefully because we don’t want to upset the apple cart but City have been at the head of the league in mid winter before (not that it feels even remotely wintry at the moment) and not strengthened and paid the price. Now, presumably, there are funds available, not necessarily to buy but there must be managers in league one or even the championship who would like a player or two to come to Lincoln and be part of a winning side, getting that winning mentality. I’d be surprised if the Cowleys aren’t way ahead of me in this thinking.

However, here we are at the end of another highly satisfactory week, another team who claimed to know what to expect but couldn’t deal with it. Here’s Scott Brown, Vales goalkeeper “They’re not even as big as last year” Well, if that’s your preparation, think back to last year you get what you deserve. Nothing.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Pett on then its auf weidersehen Alex.

I’m not sure I agree with Danny Cowleys assertion that City didn’t play well in yesterdays victory. I’d kind of hoped that the Imps might wipe the floor with Crewe for their temerity in humbling our heroes at Sincil Bank last season but as we all know football isn’t like that. The more you want something the less likely it can be.

One thing I would say is that Crewe Alex did play well. After looking as if they would be swamped in the early exchanges the visitors got to grips with City’s fluidity and gave as good as they got for long periods.

Man of the moment, for all the wrong reasons, John Akinde, fought manfully to impose himself on the game and it didn’t quite come off for him but he showed why he is so important to the side. He came off frustrated but to the sort of reception from the crowd that will confirm to him that his efforts are appreciated by the majority.

It all hinged on the appearance of another player in the news, no doubt bristling with indignation at being left out after many fine performances, Tom Pett. He wasted no time in demonstrating his influence on the side, his volley to score City’s winner was his first touch of the ball. Cowley cited tiredness as the reason for his failure to start. That was the only failure in another excellent performance.

The other newsworthy event was Michael Bostwick’s haircut. Would Samson’s drastically reduced barnet sap his strength? Ask Crewe’s strikeforce. I think the answer was no.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable performance with the benefit of hindsight. No it wasn’t pretty it was functional, workmanlike. We all like to watch blokes dig holes in the road and although it’s not glamorous toil it serves a purpose and that’s how I saw City yesterday as they edged another week forwards towards their goal. The other teams faltered slightly and the Imps advanced another point in the right direction.

As we all know it’s a marathon not a sprint and City have settled nicely into their stride again after the midweek setback.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Support needed. Have you got that?

I’m not easily shocked but after all we’ve been through together these last couple of years the last thing I expected to hear on the radio was manager Danny Cowley having to appeal to an admittedly very small section of Lincoln City fans to get behind the players, all of them and cut out the petty sniping that has crept in particularly where John Akinde is concerned.

I’ve been away so haven’t seen for myself the last few games but I would say if there has been any drop off in standards sounding off against a player or players isn’t going to help. We’ve built up a reputation as supporters for getting behind our team through thick and thin and I think we’d all agree it’s been rather more thick than thin. It’s not as if City are on the slide. When I last looked the Imps were still top of the table. When a team go on the sort of run ours has been on I suppose one loss does seem something of a blip but that’s all it is. Let’s get on with what we do best, support and lets keep it how it has been of late, unconditional.

Having said all that I do have to say I sit in the Selenity Stand, formerly not exactly the most fervent of areas in Sincil Bank where patrons used to have no qualms about sounding off when things weren’t to their liking but all I hear now is encouragement and that’s how I hope it will continue.

If I know Danny Cowley and if I know our team I’d say someone or some team is going to pay for the Imps’ discomfiture against Tranmere. Who better than Crewe who gave us such a hard time at the Bank last season?

John Beck used to say no matter how good a team were or how well they did at some stage they are going to have to overcome a setback and its how they bounce back from it. One loss away at a difficult venue hardly counts as a bad patch and I fully expect City to recover their momentum on Saturday. As Cowley says we owe Crewe one and there’s no bad time to improve the goal difference.

Let’s occupy ourselves with achieving that and leave the negative stuff to other lesser clubs. We've got a reputation to live up to. Up the Imps!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Imps good all over the pitch. There’s your problem.

On to Tranmere then and a selection headache for the manager as Lee Frecklington is available once more following his three match ban. The problem? Everyone has played well and effectively in his absence. Will Freck be slotted back in? I’m tempted to say maybe not and not for tactical reasons.

There are all sorts of reasons why Freck should return and all sorts of reason why not. I’ve just got a feeling he will have to make do with a place on the bench for the simple reason that even favourites must pay the price of misdemeanour.

After the tinkering of early season City have a settled approach when it comes to selection. The mix and match of earlier has given way to a broadly similar look where possible. It’s never easy but I don’t expect too much change from Cheltenham.

There was a time when a visit to Prenton Park was tricky to say the least. Latterly it has held no fear and City have a good record against Tranmere. Being top of the league presents its own challenges not least the fact that you become everyone’s cup final.

As the Imps have shown though, they’re not too shabby when it comes to cup finals.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Lincoln City making an extraordinary season the norm.

I had an exchange with a fan on social media in the week, you know the sort of thing, letting our imaginations run away with us a bit but we finished the chat agreeing on one thing. This is not a normal season for the Imps and these are possibly once in a lifetime opportunities for we supporters, anyone connected with the club in fact.

For other clubs these times may be commonplace, not for us. I had a family member connected with the club, at boardroom level and I’m a shareholder. City’s problems have rarely, if ever, been about how to fit more fans in the ground, how to make sure the toilets flush as there are that many people using them, how to get the irrigation system to function properly for much the same reason.

City’s history, for those who have had to grapple with such matters, has been to do with lack of cash, attracting the right players and managers or having to make do with personnel who weren’t up to the job but were all the club could afford or persuade to come to Sincil Bank. Get bums on seats. Historically the board and management have had to be concerned with keeping the club afloat rather than ensuring a promotion bid comes to fruition. Even when the club had the players to achieve success finances have got in the way. Even great managers such as Graham Taylor and Colin Murphy have felt the cold wind of reality blowing away their aspirations.

Yesterdays win at Cheltenham underlined the sea change that the Cowley revolution has brought to our lives. Like me you probably thought oh yes, well we were expected to win there as indeed we were but that wasn’t the case last season, in fact we have rarely prospered there. Yesterday I read a Grimsby Town fan bemoaning their fate (yes I know, sorry) stating it was not the managers fault, years of neglect had led to their lowly position, the club train at a cricket pavilion on one and a half pitches. Well that was us last season.

As our team prepare for games at their state of the art elite performance centre and stay in a hotel whenever the manager deems it necessary, training at some high end venue or other and don’t have to rely on a wealthy benefactor helping them out it’s worth reminding ourselves this is Lincoln City, the new kids on the block when it comes to success. The ones with the FA Cup run, the Wembley winners, the ones the opposition manager has to think up his excuses well before the match because he knows almost certainly he’s going to need them. This is the reality of the moment.

Doesn’t it feel wonderful?

Saturday, 29 September 2018

City head west to spa with Cheltenham

Every game is a battle for Lincoln City now and by the sound of their manager that is exactly what Cheltenham have been told to expect from the Imps. Excuse me while I yawn.

If that’s the limit of Cheltenham’s scouting information then they may get rather more than they bargained for, the last time I looked City were featuring a rather more measured game these days but, as they wish however it will take more than readiness for a battering ram approach. I rather wish I’d put a line through the gardening diary now and gone to see for myself.

Plenty will make the trip though as the advance ticket sales testify and it’s a journey I’ve made myself more than a few times and never with any noticeable success either but I’ve got a feeling this will not be a wasted journey for those of us of a red and white hue this time and it will take more than resolute defence to keep the Imps at bay.

After last Saturdays extraordinary last gasp winner at Sincil Bank I expect nothing less from the Imps today. Lets hope they don’t leave it quite so late though.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

City close to being kicked out of the Checkatrade Trophy.

If you create a separate disciplinary system for a competition meaning any yellow cards are not counted against league matters do not be surprised if teams exploit that fact. Add into the mix an ineffective referee and a bit of local rivalry and you get last night’s foul fest at Sincil Bank.

As a spectacle it wasn’t a bad game and separate system or not one would presume the FA will want a word about the sheer number of yellow cards racked up by Mansfield in the first half. O’Connor saw red in the second but that was almost an irrelevance.

With fans boycotting the competition because of the perceived undertones of it you’d think the time would be right for a rethink. The fact that Mansfield don’t have a game at the weekend and City do and of course City are sitting pretty at the top of the division meant that the two clubs had a different outlook on the game. I don’t think anyone present at Sincil Bank last night were surprised to see Lee Frecklington go and get some tracksuit bottoms to keep warm on the bench and John Akinde remain seated. In any event the Imps are not out of it yet.

For all that I enjoyed it. There was a strange atmosphere with the usual vocalists absent, it was a decent crowd, 4200 which many clubs would be delighted with in the league but there seemed little in the way of fervour from the assembled Imps, perhaps it was the absence of our favourite Scotsman.

So there you are. City live to fight another day. Whether they do remains to be seen.