Andrew Abbott's Blog

Monday, 28 February 2011

Baron Samedi puts the wind up City

Who saw that one coming then? Not us here at the mad house that’s, as our great leader would say, for sure. After the lesson that was Chesterfield most Imps assumed it would be back to business, ok we’re not as good as the front runners but, new improved, new formula Imps that we are, would soon dispatch the virtually down and out boys from Barnet. 544 confident supporters with red and white running through them set out for Underhill or on the hill as it might more descriptively be named to watch our boys make short work of dispatching the worst team in the league. Another of our saviour’s idiosyncrasies is to begin a sentence with the words “Yeah no” as in “yes we should have won but no we didn’t for it was the Bees that delivered the scalping.
Gavin Hoyte limped out of the previous game with a dejected look after a very short appearance so it was no surprise he did not feature although, presumably as an Arsenal player he could have had a cup of tea with his Mum and still have plenty of time to make the warm up. Kelly took his place at right back. The considerable presence of Kanyuka returned to claim a seat on the bench. It was more a case of Barnet monsoon than Barnet fair after extensive showers in North London and the Bees proceeded to swamp City who soon found themselves two goals down as first Steve Kabba headed in and then a penalty after Ali Fuseini transgressed in the box, Kabba doubling his total from the spot. Hughes gave the scoreline an unassailable look to send Barnet in to the break three up.
Steve Tilson must have had his travel hairdryer with him as City emerged from the dressing room a different team and set about repairing the damage although it was Barnet that made the early running. Soon enough though Howell put a first time shot past keeper Cole and three minutes later Grimes scored. Game on. Grimes then saw his penalty saved before Izale McLeod netted to make City pay for their tardiness in the first half. What was billed as a short cut through the graveyard ended up with the corpse rising from the coffin and with a scary “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” dispatched Lincoln north with nothing to show for their trouble.
A shell shocked Steve Tilson admitted;
“The first forty five minutes were a shambles if I’m honest, we weren’t at the races, we needed to get a decent start, we got totally the opposite, we didn’t start well and it could have been 5-0 at half time to be fair. We never got going.
“We said on Thursday and Friday, don’t think you can just turn up and win the game.
“That was what it looked like the first 45 minutes, we were nowhere near it.
“I didn’t think we had the right attitude, the first 45 minutes today.
The hairdryer?
“I just said to them, go and play with a bit of pride, the fans have turned up and watched that first 45 minutes, paid good money, it was miles off it, nowhere good enough.”
Oxford next, so that’s alright then?
“Two tough games, Oxford are on a decent run although they lost today, Accrington won, if you’re not mentally right you can lose any game.”
Two home games to come which City need to garner points from. Any team, any manager will live and let die by results. Sorry, had to get that one in.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Barnet a fair bet for a trim?

Well it’s been a relatively quiet week in Impdom although Trevor Carson, Julian Kelly and now Stephen Hunt have signed on the dotted line to extend their stays at Sincil Bank so we must be doing something right. No news on departures though. Steve Tilson confirmed in Thursdays Lincolnshire Echo that he had no enquiries for Joe Anderson or Cian Hughton and did not therefore anticipate that any further players would be going out on loan. He did not add the words “Mores the pity”, not that it’s personal but the budget must have been exceeded with all of the arrivals and only Drewe Broughton and Albert Jarrett fixed up with loans to AFC Wimbledon and Aldershot respectively. Broughton signalled something of a return to form with a goal and a booking last weekend and not many Imps will begrudge Drewe a bit of action after the frustrating season he’s had. Talking of frustrating seasons Ben Hutchinson must have had a call from his agent as he used the back pages of our august local paper to state he wouldn’t be averse to a permanent move to Lincoln. No comment from this columnist but, as always you can use our message forums to welcome this development or vent your spleen, it’s up to you.
There was no particular doom and gloom after the defeat by league leaders Chesterfield now that the team have put some space between themselves and the stiffs at the foot of the table although management and fans will want to get things going again this coming weekend as it would be all too easy to slip back in to that dark place where none of us want to be. Barnet should provide the perfect opportunity to bounce back and get more points towards the manager’s stated target of 50. The Bees are well and truly in the sticky stuff at the very bottom of the table trying not to look in the direction of the trapdoor that awaits the occupant of that position come May. Try telling them the Blue Square Premier is as good as the league!
Barnet were themselves losers last weekend to Southend finding themselves two goals down after the first 16 minutes before grabbing a consolation goal just before the final whistle. Del and Ashley will be hoping the Bees offer somewhat less resistance than did the Spireites in the last home game and they can help the team get back on track. As has been said before it’s how you react to a defeat that matters, not the defeat itself. Lose again to the Imps this Saturday and it’s difficult to see a way out for the Bees, with no Mariners in free fall this season to save them although Stockport and Burton are doing a pretty good job as stand ins. The Brewers have games in hand over everyone. Not that they help if you’re not picking up points. The Guardian football league blog had Burton as much playoff outsiders as relegation fodder this week. We shall see. As far as Stockport are concerned their fans are resigned to occupying the second relegation spot if the comments made on the Guardian blog are anything to go by. It’s good to be viewing these matters as an interested observer rather than an active participant but, whilst the white tape is certainly there in the distance now, City do have to keep huffing and puffing till they get through it.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

City’s new left winger almost steals the show.

In the end it was so near and yet so far as the Imps succumbed to their nearest and dearest in our local derby game. Imps manager Steve Tilson must be wondering if he’s made the right choice as just 4172 were present to see City take on their nearest rivals and table toppers Chesterfield after the run they have been on. Mind you 1142 away fans must cast doubts on the Spirites appetite for following their side when the weather precluded any other activity other than shopping at nearby Meadowhall. Those that didn’t bother missed a Herculean contest with City, unlike against Bury and Shrewsbury, pushing their illustrious neighbours all the way to a hard fought victory. Imps supporters can take great heart from this performance as their tiring heroes gave Chesterfield a good chasing and the league leaders, in their heart of hearts must know they were fortunate to come away from Sincil Bank with all the points. They are the real deal though and surely now will go on to claim a deserved promotion and should acquit themselves well in the division above, provided their fans can be bothered to turn out that is.
As it happens City were undone in a moment of tragedy and comedy. They were motoring along quite nicely and if anything were shading the contest when Trevor Carson, who otherwise had an inspiring game, saving a penalty and making at least two absolute top drawer saves, turned into Frank Carson, making an absolute hash of a relatively straightforward backpass clearance to leave Craig Davies with a roll in to open the scoring. Poor Carson, he won’t live that down and yet the game ought to be remembered for his outstanding display, other than that howler.
City have a new player on their books. He looks like Delroy Facey, his name is Delroy Facey but he’s playing like a man reborn. He must wish he was starting all over again with the football he’s playing at the moment and Imps fans would be licking their lips at the prospect of a big transfer fee to come if Del were twenty. Not once but twice Del boy charged down the left wing with Spirites defenders desperately trying to hang on to his coat tails, to deliver pin point crosses from the by line, the first not met by anyone, such was his team mates surprise at this athletic display, the second, not converted either, mores the pity.
If Lincoln were lacking anywhere it was midfield and it was a lack lustre show in this area as the team gave the ball away time after time only to be snapped up by Chesterfield’s eager middle order. They’re a strong team physically alright and move the ball about with an easy fluidity and are pretty easy on the eye to be fair. City can have no complaints in what was a sporting contest but must learn to impose themselves on their opponents as Spireites did. They never let their guard drop and never let their industry relent either.
Imps boss Tilson gave his usual honest appraisal;
“The first goal wasn’t one of those things that normally happens and the second was a free header in our box. Apart from that I thought we competed really well today and fair play to the lads, they’ve dug in and had a go so I’m disappointed with the result but they gave it everything.”
Chesterfield manager John Sheriden told BBC Sheffield;
“I thought we looked really solid and looked like a team that is on top of the table. I thought that is the best we’ve played for four or five games.”
Hard to argue with that and, once again City came up against a team at the business end of the table on top of their game. That’s why they’re there but it’s on to Barnet now, surely fertile ground for a resumption of City’s charge for safety?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Will the form team prevail - Or the dazzling dandies from Derbyshire?

By all accounts it wasn’t the most convincing of performances but nevertheless Lincoln City came back from a two goal deficit to claim a point from their encounter with Aldershot, Ashley Grimes, (who else?) netting with minutes on the clock to rescue the team from defeat. How very pleasant to report that. It has been the Imps on so many occasions suffering an away return trip cursing their luck. Steve Tilson wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth;
"It was disappointing to go two goals down, but the positive thing is how the lads fought back, observed the former Southend supremo
"If someone had offered me a point beforehand I would have taken it."
That goes for us fans too, Imps are not used to stirring comebacks and they say it’s the mark of a decent side, to get something from the game whilst not particularly playing well.
"At 2-0 down to get back in the game was brilliant, I was just a bit disappointed we didn't start to play our own game until quite late on," conceded Tilly
"Aldershot did not create much – they set the standard and we were a bit below it." Well at least that’s honest not like some managers you could name. He was none too impressed with the penalty that never was either;
"I think it was a bit dubious," said the City boss.
"They said the player could not get his hand away in time, but I think the cross has come from so deep that the lad has had enough time to get out of the way.
"But we didn't let it bother us and we got on with the game.
"It could have been very easy for us to fold at that point, but the lads kept plugging at it and it was a good result."
A back handed compliment for Grimes, he hit his 12th for City, a remarkable strike rate.
"It was a good goal," said the gaffer.
"Grimes will probably admit it was not his best game, but he did what he needed to late on for us."

What do you most need when you’ve been playing two games a week for who knows how long, just back from one of your furthest flung opponents, a midweek game too so no hotel stop over? A visit from the league leaders that’s what.
Will it go the way of the form team? Yes that’s City in case you didn’t know, or the dazzling dandies from Derbyshire? Chesterfield manager John Sheridan gave a prickly response when interviewed on Spirites Player and was asked what team he would be putting out on Saturday:
“Well I’ll keep the team news to myself, you know I don’t usually give it away but we’re picking up one or two niggles which I expected with playing Saturday, Tuesday , but I feel I’ve got a strong enough squad anyway so, whatever team I put out will hopefully get us a positive result”
Sheriden was pressed as to his strikers fitness and gave another terse response, perhaps nerves are starting to get the better of him before the big clash? He was asked if Lincoln presented an opportunity for some of the reserve goal getters at the club to get a chance, due to injuries to first choice players?
“I’ve just said, Jack and everyone will train tomorrow (Friday) so that means Jack and Drewe will train tomorrow, obviously Smalley is the only one who is suspended so he won’t be available, whoever I play, I’ve got Boden, Bowery, so I can pick two from five, one from five, three from five, I think we’re strong enough in that department, whoever plays, hopefully they’ll score goals.”
The Spirites boss conceded City are the form team at the moment;
“They’re one of the in form sides and they’re climbing that division, they’ll believe that they can get into the play offs and we’ve got to be aware of that, they’ll be a big threat if we allow it. We’ve got to go there; we’re top of the table we’ve got to put in a performance.
Steady on John, one game at a time but if the Imps can get anything out of this game then perhaps this season may hold one or two more surprises yet?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The week in Lincolnshire

On Tuesday it was reported that further work to Lincoln Castle had been sanctioned by Lincolnshire County Council planning and regulation committee. There will be three phases of work to the walkways along Drury Lane. The work is expected to cost £3.5 million.

The death of a 37 year old woman this week means the county has got off to a much worse start on the roads than this time last year. Fatalities have risen by 150 per cent. The accident took place near Boston and two men have been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

There was a good news story to cheer us up in these damp and still quite dark days as desperate mum Kerry Vickersum flagged down passing motorist Warrant Officer Ian Phillips. Ms Vickersum's baby Poppy-Jane had stopped breathing and turned blue. Quick thinking Ian used life saving techniques he had learned at work and his first aid started Poppy-Jane breathing again. She was taken to hospital by air ambulance and is now at home with no ill effects.

Plans for a super dairy which was to have housed 3700 cows have apparently been withdrawn by Nocton Dairies Ltd. The controversial plan was originally to accommodate an astonishing 8100 cows. Nocton Dairies say the reason for the withdrawal was objection by the Environment Agency.

The Lincolnshire Echo ran a feature on Saturday citing lack of opportunity for rural workers. It reported the county is in danger of becoming a "retirement home "and in desperate need of investment although Lincolnshire Young Farmers don't seem to share the doom and gloom and announced that grants are available to help people gain the skills they need. There is no shortage of labour coming in from Eastern Europe though, they still seem to think the county has plenty to offer if the streets of Boston are anyting to go by.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pass it on- he’s nothing special!

He receives the ball he has his back to the goal, nothing seems to be on, the defence relax. Then a twist. It doesn’t look possible but the ball ends up in the back of the net. The crowd drools. Another fantastic goal from a fantastic player. Wayne who? We’re talking about Ashley Grimes. What a shame just 2884 were there to see it, not helped by an away following of just 90. Was automatic promotion and relegation from non league such a good idea when the likes of Grimsby and Mansfield Town are denied to us? Anyway, pass it on, Ashley Grimes is no great shakes. Whatever slim hopes Lincoln City had of signing Grimes are disappearing with every goal this mercurial player fashions out of nothing. The first was none too shabby either. Enjoy it while it lasts.

City went into this one a bit battered and bruised. Stephen Hunt and Gavin Hoyte missing from the starting eleven. As if that wasn’t enough crocked defenders, Julian Kelly went off to be replaced by the not inconsiderable presence of Kanyuka. In reality City huffed and puffed particularly in the second half where they did well to avoid conceding. This game might have had a grandstand finish had Morecambe got one. The effort of playing all the games in hand is taking its toll although it was mentioned in the old codgers department, the Echo stand, that it was refreshing to be able to field a quality replacement in Clapham and the substitute’s roster does have more of a squad feel about it. We saw what Trevor Carson was about too with several more than decent saves.

Steve Tilson was concerned that playing catch up was having an effect on the players fitness;

“Obviously nice to keep a clean sheet, it wasn’t a very good game to watch to be honest but we had Hunty, Hunty cried off this morning, Julian Kelly was touch and go, Gavin Hoyte got injured in training last night so we couldn’t do any team play whatsoever but, fair play to the lads they stuck together, like I say it wasn’t a fantastic game but everyone played their part from Trev in goal who made two or three very good saves to Grimesy with two very good finishes to the rest of the team sticking in there collectively and keeping them out.

Tilson was asked about Ashley Grimes (very ordinary)

“The second goal was absolutely first class, you could say he’s won us the game but Trev right through to Delroy have played their part today.

“Brilliant finish, there’s probably premiership players can’t do that eleven in eleven is a decent return (if you say so)

“I’m just wary that we’ve played a lot of games in a short space of time and we are picking up injuries from that.”

No rest for the wicked, it’s Aldershot away this Tuesday, they drew 0.0 with Macclesfield on Saturday and sit three places and two points below the Imps so a win, once again would cement City’s position whilst keeping the Shots looking nervously down at the relegation scrap below them. You may recall this is the venue the team reached, through the snow only to be sent home again. After the trifling matter of Chesterfield a rare one match week but March is particularly gruelling with no less than eight matches to play so it will be seen that, healthier by far as City’s position is we are by no means out of the woods yet.

Friday, 11 February 2011

A match lost, a lesson learned

Now pay attention class, Mr Turner is with us today and he’s going to give us a practical demonstration of what we need to do if we are to be a successful team. Watch carefully, it may be a little bit painful but it will be worth it in the end. Any Imp who believed that somehow Steve Tilson had miraculously fashioned a promotion winning side two or three years ahead of schedule, that City were the finished article and would go on to reach the play offs or better will have realised on Wednesday morning, having digested the events of the night before, the enormity of the task ahead. Like Bury before them Shrewsbury simply dismantled our hapless heroes and a slightly jaded City crumbled to a 1-5 defeat, the effort of playing catch up on the fixture list not helping. At 1-1 the game looked like being an absolute cracker with both sides scoring with virtually their first attacks but Shrews soon swept the Imps aside with a virtuoso display. Any hopes that City might emulate Newcastle with the comeback of all comebacks were swiftly disabused and at half time all fans could hope for was that the team would not be further humiliated which, to their credit they were not although to be fair, Shrewsbury, having taken their pleasure were, understandably, a little less lively but not much and Tilson’s boys did well to avoid a total whitewash and prevented Shrews from adding to their score. City could not get a consolation or two themselves to make the scoreline a bit more respectable though.

Tilson was characteristically straight forward;

Shrewsbury and Bury are the best two sides that have played here this season,” said the manager.

"They worked hard, had good movement, caused us a lot of problems and thoroughly deserved the win.
"They were better than us, it's as simple as that and we never got to grips with them.
"We have been on a good run and we wanted to keep that going but I just felt that they worked a bit harder than us and made it awkward for us.
"We have had a lot of games in a short space of time but Shrewsbury seemed more up for the game."
Whether that is true or not is debatable, any side that had won its last five games cannot be said not to be motivated but there is no shame in admitting you have been beaten by a better team. Let’s leave it at that because City are in the business of securing their league place, let us not forget and, as any manager will tell you defeats have to be taken on the chin, what matters is how you react to them so hopefully Morecambe, next on the fixture list, at Sincil Bank on Saturday will feel the full might of City’s retribution.
Morecambe sit two places and one point behind the Imps so a win would open up a little space on the Shrimps whilst a loss would see City below them and looking nervously over their shoulders back at the relegation morass from which they so spectacularly departed just days ago. There is a decent gap but Tilson will be anxious to keep the momentum going. He has recently stated that he is looking for five wins and a draw as quickly as possible to ease the nerves. Shrimps boss Sammy McIlroy meanwhile wants his troops to be more ruthless. He told the Morecambe Visitor;
“I said last week that I wanted us to be more consistent and the early signs are promising and we have played some great football in patches in difficult conditions”
A big game for both teams then. Steve Tilson, in a comment that indicated he was going to be firm with the supporters as well as his charges complained about the size of the attendance on Tuesday evening whilst praising those that were there for their vocal efforts. Doubtless rather more will be at the Bank for a Saturday game to see if Shrewsbury was just a blip or another downturn for the former Southend duo to grapple with.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Five in a row as Delroy takes the Bulls by the horns.

There will come a time of course when Lincoln City Mad have to report a loss but that time has not yet come and, once again the Imps had the engine running as the team carried out a smash and grab raid on in form Hereford United, surviving a second half onslaught to escape Edgar Street with all three points and bring the back to back wins total to five.

The one caveat to the previous victories in the run was that those opponents were suffering a loss of form and City, in a rare bout of good fortune were able to take advantage of teams that had been doing well but had slipped up. Not this time. In Hereford, City came head to head with a team bang on the money, second in the current form table to the Imps fourth. Something had to give and it was Lincoln who took the spoils to beef up their survival bid.

LCM would not be so unfair as to lay all the blame for City’s shambolic season at Joe Anyon’s door, not for a moment but there’s no doubt about it a confident, authoritative goalkeeper as the last line of defence makes it so much easier to get the various pieces to fit and the defences statistics are starting to look more than decent. What were the chances of this sort of defensive shut out a few weeks ago with the rampant Bulls snorting at the Imps rearguard? Not much chance frankly and with the strikers in a rich vein at the moment too it was Delroy who supplied the coup de grace in the first half. Delroy Facey; who can doubt his commitment or indeed ability to compete well at this level now? Here is a man enjoying his work alright. That long, tedious trek home must have seemed like the yellow brick road to our returning conquerors swept aloft in Nike’s winged chariot. Let’s hope the powers that be are in their usual ignorance of little old Lincoln for surely now the curse of manager of the month lurks in the shadows like Orson Welles rising from the underworld to wake us all from this delicious dream.

Steve Tilson, interviewed after the game was in buoyant mood;

“I just keep saying to the lads, you know, winning becomes a habit as much as losing does we’ve got to keep that habit going, don’t settle for second best we’ve got on a good run now we’ve got to try to keep moving forward.

“You have to do the horrible things if you’re going to get a result and we’ve done ‘em again today.”

Words of encouragement for goal scorer Facey’

“He’s taken the captains role fantastically forward, he’s given the lads a lot of confidence, they listen to him but also, I said to him five or six weeks ago, don’t keep turning shots down, have a go if you’re in a position to have strike, if you miss it, get the next one. He looks like he believes he’s going to score more than he did six or eight weeks ago so fair play to him he’s done ever so well for us.”

A word of warning for those who might believe the battle has been won;

“One or two bad weeks can totally change it so we have to keep improving and we have to keep believing we can get wins because, we’ve got five wins on the bounce but we need to keep pushing on”

Almost finished now but first a reminder that our message board is the perfect forum for your rants, raves, praise and put downs where classical Greek scholars for example could point out that it was Nike with the wings not her chariot. On then to Tuesday, Sincil Bank 7.45 for the only game in town and where our heroes deserve and demand your attendance to see if this remarkable turnaround in fortunes can continue against Shrewsbury Town. You would be mad to miss it.

Friday, 4 February 2011

City’s good four-tune continues. Can they make it a famous five?

What’s going on? Lincoln City were a basket case when they finally emerged from the ice age losing four on the trot to slump to the very foot of the table prompting hilarious “strongest team in the league” jibes from those not of an Impish disposition. It’s tempting, when you are in the position City were to hope that one win will light the blue touch paper and all will be well. It often doesn’t work that way but it has in this case and Lazarus has well and truly jumped from his bed and is giving all and sundry a good kicking. Steve Tilson must have been wondering whether this day would ever arrive when City couldn’t buy a win but he stood by his principles and you have to say, even though they weren’t winning, no one gave them a pasting, Bury excepted. Defensive malfunctions were very much the order of the day though and often all their good work came to naught as the opposition waltzed round a static defence to claim another three points off our hapless heroes. Tilson was understandably delighted with the teams performance at Valley Parade although clearly not with the first half and yet another early goal. He was man enough to admit his own part in the lack lustre first period;

"It was a good win, but I was disappointed with the opening 45 minutes because I felt we never got to grips with it," he said.
"It was made even more difficult in the fact Adam Watts had to withdraw from the warm-up with a hamstring injury.
"I decided to put Patrick Kanyuka in midfield and, if I am honest, it didn't work.
"But I put Ali Fuseini on and I thought he was a different class.
"He kept things nice and simple and helped it on when he had to, but as bad as we were in the first half we were as good in the second and played some good stuff.
"We had a right go and won our battles."
There was another goal for Gavin McCallum, now establishing himself amongst the first team regulars and the gaffer appreciated his contribution;
"It was a fantastic goal by Gavin, but it was his defensive work too," he said.
"Even down to the last minute when Julian Kelly showed his lad outside, Gavin came in and nicked the ball and cleared it.
"His work-rate has improved, but it had to. Now he deserves to be in the side.
"He's put in four good performances and now he has to push on."
Once again, a word of praise for the fans from the manager, could it be that we have a true inheritor of the Graham Taylor mantle?
"The fans were magnificent, but there is a long way to go," he said.
"If you have a bad week, you can soon get dragged back into it at the bottom.
"That's where we have to keep going. We can't sit on our laurels.
"We don't want to go the wrong way."
Absolutely; and now for a familiar opponent, Hereford. Can the Imps expunge the memory of that cup defeat and claim three more much needed points? One thing’s for sure, Tilson won’t tolerate the sort of Keystone Cops defending fans had to sit through last time, not that there were that many there to see it. Twelve points from four games is a magnificent achievement but such is the hole they got themselves in, promotion form is going to be required until the end of the season if City are going to be clear of the mire come May. At least they have shown that they are capable of it.