Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 24 November 2017

Imps look to restore fortress Lincoln.

Sincil Bank has been our stronghold for some time now and the Imps will be hoping it continues this weekend after last Saturdays defeat followed by null points on the road at Colchester. Although City were beaten last Saturday I think there was enough about the performance to encourage us. I know also that some regulars couldn’t get tickets so although I expect the gate to be good hopefully everyone that wants to go will be able to.

I defer to no one in my admiration of Danny Cowley but I’m going to take issue with him on one point. He says getting to the playoffs this season would surpass last season exploits. I think nothing short of the championship would surpass last season and he seems to forget we are no strangers to the league two playoffs. As you know we enjoyed if that’s the word, two finals in Cardiff. Typically for Imps fans it was Cardiff not Wembley.

There is a long way to go before we even start to think about play offs and championships and the manager has got to solve the goal scoring reluctance if we are to really make progress. An awful lot of confidence seems to be placed in the Imps ability to substantially recruit after Christmas and I do hope we're not going to be disappointed after that. Having said that Danny and Nicky’s ability to pull rabbits out of the hat can sometimes give a children’s Christmas party magician a run for his money.

An attacking version of Neal Eardley would do very nicely if you could see your way clear Santa.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

That sinking feeling.

I was having a word with someone at the office about matters Sincil Bank and even when I was saying it I realised my words could be construed as insensitive, arrogant even. I was musing on the fact that City were playing in front of the biggest crowds in the league on top of record season ticket sales and a magnificent cup run yet still weren’t able, seemingly to compete with the big hitters financially in the league. This to a Boston United supporter. I really should be more mindful of fellow football fans feelings.

So when I say trying to listen to match commentary this season isn’t it as easy as it was last given that you have to listen on an actual radio now and we only have one, on the bedside table, either that or out in the car and I certainly didn’t fancy that. I can well imagine that would go down like a lead balloon with those of you who actually went to Colchester and saw for themselves City’s capitulation last night. Even Danny Cowley sounded fed up and it’s not often you hear him criticise the players but he did and they should certainly sit up and take notice of that.

Cowley did say he could take defeat, just about which I’d guess is no different to the rest of us but it comes on the back of a home loss, a rarity admittedly, where City had performed reasonably well but were left pointless. I think Cowley thought last night was very much a missed opportunity and his attitude to missed opportunities is do I not like that?

It’s two losses in an otherwise satisfactory season but I don’t like being fed up with City and I don’t like to hear the manager say he’s fed up either.

The Imps have the opportunity to put us all in good spirits next Saturday which is another home game and furthermore I’m unable to go. If that’s not a recipe for a rip roaring performance and a goal fest I don’t know what is.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

That’s just the way it is.

Danny Cowley responded to criticism on social media, which he admitted he hadn’t seen for himself with a statistic that showed City were the second best performing after Sheffield United, of the promoted clubs. He needn’t have bothered for my sake, I’m perfectly happy.

Maybe I’m a bit sheltered from the pundits in the crowd, I don’t hear any of this griping I keep reading about in my seat in the old folks h…. sorry, Selenity Stand. Strangely this would, at one time been the go to area for moaners and groaners but honestly I don’t pick up anything other than the odd gripe about a chance missed or a clearance ballooned.

Well, there you go football is all about opinions and you can tell what most people think by the size of the crowd. I also see, I don’t know by what criteria this one is based on, we are the best atmosphere in all the leagues, beating Anfield and St James’ Park and the third highest fourth tier average gate in Europe. I suppose that one can be verified although 9500 admittedly highly charged fans at a great game beating the Geordies for passion? Maybe we do, I think we’re all still pinching ourselves at the revolution we’re experiencing.

I’ve never been to Colchester and I’m not going tonight but it’s one of those places that’s not a million miles away but feels like it when you’re driving there I’d imagine. Those that do go will deserve our admiration as true fans and I’m sure the players appreciate them. Plenty will go though and Danny needs to look at the dedication of those supporters to appreciate the true feelings of Imps, not those who hide away on the net voicing their “concerns”. They may not even be City fans in any event.

Tonight will present a rather truer picture of where we are at than Saturday, the two clubs are quite evenly matched in the league. It’s a difficult place to go but as we are finding out, where isn’t?

Monday, 20 November 2017

Imps 1 Cry Babies 2

They may not be famous any more but my goodness me it was just like watching the Premier League on the telly as Coventry City writhed and collapsed on the floor, usually in an attempt to break up the play when Lincoln had it. Ably assisted by an awestruck referee who thought everything Coventry did must be ok because, well, they used to be famous.

Not that Coventry needed any help as they were, by some distance, the best side we have seen at Sincil Bank this season. I’d be very surprised if they’re not in League One next year, they were excellent, as were City in parts but unfortunately not quite enough.

Yet when the Imps took the lead through Matt Rhead, who was majestic, we dared to believe that something was on. The crowd, already at least League One standard sensed it too and the noise was terrific. It’s tempting to say a good advert for the level of football except it would be a bit like putting a Grand Prix on the TV and saying come to Cadwell Park. It was well above the likes of FGR and Accrington who I note couldn’t even scrape 2000 to see a side third in the table.

Still good crowds don’t win leagues, good and compelling football does which is why Coventry will probably win the league and City may be a good bet for the playoffs.

I’d settle for that.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Back to the future.

There’s certainly a big one this weekend with the much anticipated arrival at Sincil Bank of Coventry City. Not since the heady days of our all too brief sojourn in League One or the Second Division as it was styled at the time which featured amongst other notables, Manchester City have the Imps played such illustrious opponents.

I recall also a previous promotion (you don’t have to have too much of a head for figures), Graham Taylors side this time and Portsmouth were the big noises but I don’t think either of those clubs and the others that were around at the time engendered the sort of interest the fans are conjuring up at the moment. The game sold out on Monday and all fans without a ticket can hope for is a spare seat surrendered by a season ticket holder who can’t make the game.

Of course Sincil Bank was a bigger capacity in those days but even so I don’t recall sustained 8-9000 gates and I certainly don’t recall the sort of big match atmosphere were generating now what with the 617 and the associated noise that brings with it as the fans join in losing some of their inhibitions to sing and clap along. Even in the Selenity Stand us old codgers aren’t allowed to snooze the afternoon away, Danny Cowley would quickly be turned towards us giving us the crank it up exhortation. It’s not just the players who are required to go the extra mile.

I’m not going to harp on about it but, just as with the Trophy last year the Checkatrade Trophy this has given the squad members the chance to stake their claim to a start and Harry Anderson and Elliott Whitehouse certainly did that. I can’t imagine if they are both fit that those players will not feature at some stage. Has the lack of goals issue found a solution? It would be nice to think so and of course when they start to come they can emanate from other areas of the team too. Whatever you may think of individual strikers I’m sure, like me you just want goals from them and after that all is forgiven but I don’t think anyone can be accused of lack of effort.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Imps gradually getting the point.

For years Crewe Alexandra bumped along with City in the Fourth Division and then disappeared off my radar, up at the heady heights of what we would now call the Championship. There were others not necessarily at the same time, Grimsby Town, Barnsley, Bradford City. I was very envious which is not like me.

Crewe had a reputation for playing good football with young players either brought through their own ranks or borrowed. I think they had a tie up with Liverpool. That sort of arrangement is denied in the main for Lincoln City for geographical reasons although we did have one with Everton and we know what that or rather who that brought us and very pleased with that acquisition we are too.

Anyway, as is usually the case, certainly with Crewe and Grimsby, here they are back in the division and here we are too although as we are all painfully aware we don’t have golden memories of mixing it with the big boys. If you do you’ll be getting on a bit now.
It’s been a bit of a learning curve lately and I think we’re all now recognising that further progress is not going to be achieved in a hurry. Personally I haven’t given up on further glory this season although a mid-table finish would be perfectly acceptable.

That's also what we’re supposed to think but I don’t imagine the manager would be satisfied with that, it’s in his nature to be winning. All the time. We’re certainly in limbo now unless somehow somebody starts scoring or a combination of scorers emerge. Most of us believe the transfer window will bring some relief to the relative goal drought. Having said that not many get conceded so all is not lost.

I’d guard against too much optimism for the window too unless we can get a good loan or two in. No one is going to be releasing twenty goals a season men at Christmas unless there’s a very good reason

There’s a hint there if you care to take it.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

City progress. In more ways than one.

I’ve really enjoyed the Checkatrade Trophy. It’s made a nice change from the trench warfare that the league can be. If this is a competition for squad teams then maybe you can argue that ours is better than Mansfield Town’s or Notts County’s. Perhaps there’s something to be said for a smaller setup.

The first half last night against Notts County maybe reflected the weather although an enterprising City seemed the team that wanted the game more despite the fact it was the Magpies who needed a win to progress. However it was County that took the lead following a bit of a howler that saw Jonathan Forte with only the keeper to beat which he did with ease. City levelled with an own goal that you’d like to say City would have put in had the defender not but with the Imps finishing at the moment who knows?

I’ve seen a lot of tournament football at junior level and it was pleasing to see City progress from the group stage after three good performances in the same format. The last round saw a spectacular free kick but last night’s effort from Josh Ginnelly was an absolute pearler and lit up a drab Sincil Bank and sent us home with a spring in our step and looking forward to the draw.

Much has been made of the reserve team nature of the teams clubs have put out but it has at least given us and more importantly the manager the chance to see those players that would like to have more game time set out their stall. In that respect Elliott Whitehouse did his chances no harm at all. There was an interesting experiment if you like where Michael Bostwick played in midfield first half and Alex Woodyard the second. The Imps looked a vastly superior outfit in the second spell and maybe there will be a different look to the defence when Sean Raggett moves on. Ellis Chapman had a few minutes again and he looks a real prospect. Not naming any names but there were others that did not shine. Certainly not in that bracket would be Harry Anderson. Injury and in Billy Knotts case an unjustified red card have not done them any favours at all.

I really need to find another expression for the Checkatrade Trophy other than much maligned but for me it was definitely an evening usefully spent and I look forward to the home tie that the Imps efforts have ensured.