Andrew Abbott's Blog

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A case of déjà vu-only the other way round.

As I sat in the Echo Stand at Sincil Bank last night watching City cruise past Worcester City to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup, I couldn’t help thinking I’d been somewhere before in some of the many Imps games I’d watched.

City did indeed cruise past their opponents, four goals wouldn’t have been flattering but they didn’t particularly dominate Worcester in fact at times it was a bit of a tussle. Certainly poor old Conner Robinson knew he’d been in a battle as he was felled very early on by a tackle that could be described as robust at the very least and that’s being kind. A yellow card was shown but it just goes to show if we thought the premier league was a bit rustic pretty much anything goes in the division below.

I found myself seeing things from Worcester’s point of view or at least their fans in that they were doing ok when City scored then they settled down and City scored again and so on. I’ve watched the Imps play countless supposedly better teams in various cup competitions, give a good account of themselves but still go down to a few well taken goals.

I’m not complaining though. City continue to labour although Tomlinson was in sparkling form, really enjoyed watching him, I thought the new boy did well and Newton is a splendid mix of belligerence and pace. I really like seeing him play.

Plymouth Argyle next, in fact the next home game and a good time to be playing what will be to many City fans quite an exotic opponent, certainly one whose orbit we have rarely encountered but who are somewhat down on their luck at the moment. The FA Cup is not quite the graveyard of our hopes it was hitherto and if that’s not tempting providence I don’t know what is.

Friday, 25 October 2013

At a loss to understand.

They say one swallow doesn’t make a summer and by the same token a few days without spotting said bird doesn’t necessarily mean winter’s here.

It seems a bit of a memory now but when Lincoln City got off to a flyer this season almost the one voice refusing to get over excited was that of City’s manager Gary Simpson.

Hopefully you’ll still be with me what with talk of swallows and summer but the point is the good weather is now a memory as is the Imps blistering start to the season. Gary Simpson, gentleman that he is, has refused to say, as far as I’m aware, I told you so in fact he’s too busy defending himself from the Championship Manager honed armchair critics who think he’s nowhere near as good as they would be in his role.

Hopefully this weekend’s game will provide relief from the depressing recent form which has seen City’s bandwagon well and truly in the lay-by. A cup run of any dimensions will produce much needed funds for the cause but conversely an early exit from the FA Cup will see those critics shouting ever more loudly.

Personally, I’m at a loss to understand why the manager is coming under close scrutiny so early in his tenure of office. Sure, the recent form has been poor but the terrace pundits have questioned the manager’s tactics. Really? I pay my money and somebody else winds the team up, I’d be hopeless at managing and I suspect many of the armchair sages would too but of course they don’t have to demonstrate their skill, it’s the boss who takes the flack and he’s certainly doing that at the moment.

Talking of funds I see we’ve signed a striker, Marlon Jackson who, at 5’ 11” is not the target man we were chasing, I guess but quite clearly finishing is where we are falling down if I read the managers thoughts correctly and I would tend to agree with that.

City’s fortunes in the FA Cup have been slightly better of late, they could barely get much worse but let’s all hope that we’re still in the hat come 5 tomorrow to give us all a bit of relief, both from the football and the weather.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Farman master class fails to inspire Imps.

Anyone approaching the upcoming clash with Aldershot having looked at their lowly league position would have been lulled into a false sense of security. Shots were deducted ten points and their second to bottom position was not a true reflection of their current form.

Having said that Aldershot did not need to be particularly brilliant to claim all three points from the encounter at Sincil Bank. A combination of poor tactics, not on the manager’s part he quickly explained to Michael Hortin on BBC Radio Lincolnshire after the game, they simply ignored his instructions, but an inexplicable handball in the penalty area left the referee no choice but to award a spot kick. This was gleefully accepted by Aldershot who, having survived a decent first half showing from the Imps, couldn’t believe their luck at City’s naivety. Once they converted right at the start of the second half Shots then proceeded to try every trick in the book to run the clock down and why not?

Paul Farman was the only possible choice for home man of the match and that award was given principally for a quite brilliant triple, or was it more, save when the defence went awol a la last season leaving the Imps stopper to deny Aldershot single handed as the shots rained in.

Talking of rain the crowd retreated further and further back in the stands as the heavens opened and wind blew furiously, straight into the faces of our heroes who could not find a way past Aldershot’s rear guard. For the second home match in succession City were shut out and have now taken one point from a possible six.

Simpson bemoaned a lack of resources once again and It’s difficult to counter the argument that City are still a cut price outfit and the sort of strikers who could have provided the key to victory in both of this week’s home encounters are outside of our price range. There was another very decent showing of fans present, despite the weather and it’s a shame that, as the fans return to Sincil Bank many will be put off attending on a more regular basis in the face of two poor performances or at least poor results as of course this is one area where City do have an advantage over some better resourced but smaller clubs, they do have a large fan base who have shown they will turn out if the Imps can show decent home form. They were doing until now, rewarding those at the Bank with home wins but now stay at home supporters will be wondering if City are reverting to type and will leave their bobble hats on the shelf until things improve.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Injuries calling the shots.

Imps go into Saturday’s game with Aldershot minus Ben Tomlinson. Gary Simpson warned the loss of the striker was inevitable a couple of weeks ago and sure enough he now serves a one match ban but it is the unavoidable knocks that beset the squad at the moment:-

“We are getting to that stage of the season when we are going to start picking things up like suspensions. Tom Miller was feeling his groin on Tuesday and one or two others look like they might need a breather. But it’s just when to give them that breather because there are one or two hovering on four bookings.” Simpson explained.

At least the weekend should bring a different sort of spectacle to the ones fans suffered on Tuesday night and one players suspension means another’s opportunity:-

"We don’t have Thommo on Saturday, so someone is going to have to play in his place. We’ll have a look and see which way we want to go and pick a team accordingly.

"Every game throws up something else. This game on Saturday will be another kind of game because they have pace and people that can take you on and probably play a bit more open at times. They will try to hit us on the break with the pace that they’ve got.”

Simpson hinted at a surprise recall for Conner Robinson. If he did then a certain Mr Fairhurst will wear an even darker expression to the one he displayed against Tamworth:-
“Waide looked a lot more sharper when he came on the other day” said the boss, damning Fairhurst with faint praise. I expect the striker to have a somewhat sunnier disposition come tomorrow leaving Robinson to further his fitness regime at the Northolme where he is earning good reviews for his displays in Conference North:-

“At the minute we think it’s better that he’s playing, he looks a lot sharper in training,” confirmed Simmo.

There are other options of course and our Gary does like to keep us on our toes.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Tamworth fans knew something we didn’t.

I suppose we could have guessed from their miniscule support that Tamworth were not, shall we say, the great entertainers. Just sixteen loyal fans made the trip. The Echo’s Leigh Curtis tweeted during the game they could have come in five taxis. In fact four would have been sufficient.

Not that the away team should be relied upon to supply all the excitement, it’s up to the home side to make the running and try though they might City could not get to grips with last nights opponents and had to settle for a point. Gary Simpson, speaking on BBC Radio Lincolnshire bemoaned a lack of luck as much as anything. This can appear to be rather weak when the team are struggling but on last nights display, you know he might have been right.

Tamworth started off like a train and one of those fast ones at that. City were chasing shadows from the off although the visitors couldn’t keep their blistering pace all first half and as that half drew to a close you just got the feeling it wasn’t particularly going to be our night. Sure enough Simpson shuffled his pack to no avail although City did look a different proposition after Waide Fairhust came on, bristling with indignation at once again being left on the sidelines. His industry made no difference in the end and a draw it was.

Ironically it was a very decent gate last night, boosted by a large number of students who had been given free tickets in the hope that they might get in the habit of frequenting Sincil Bank whilst they study in the city. Funny how these initiatives, and I applaud this one, seem to have a detrimental effect on the entertainment. I hope they will give the Imps one more try. It’s not always as bad as that honest!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Bank Holiday.

There was a time not long ago when our annual mid September sojourn to Catalonia was a convenient excuse not to put myself through the emotional wringer that was Sincil Bank for a couple of weeks. How times have changed.

Whilst I was absent Stewart, my co sufferer told me he went along as usual to the Hyde game expecting to sit in splendid isolation as had become the norm in the Echo Stand only to find a few old familiar faces venturing back and plenty of fans to discuss the now resurgent Imps with. He did however say the first half was fairly dire though but City got their act together in the second half to dispatch the basement boys with relative ease, as well they might if they are to do anything this term.

After Hyde it was the not inconsiderable obstacle of Nuneaton away where City led with not too long to go before surrendering a share of the points to a soft goal as perhaps a rather too gleeful Steve Thompson told us on BBC Radio Lincolnshire this morning. Still, it’s a measure of the confidence around both club and fans that a point gained at a club second in the league should be greeted with such dismay where we all would have been delighted this time last season.

On to another winnable game tonight as we welcome Tamworth, described on said radio this morning as more concerned with staying in the league than anything more ambitious. Well we know all about that don’t we?

Manager Simpson warned it will be a stern test nevertheless and to expect an uncompromising opposition:-
“They are physical, they have two big centre halves, we know they have two massive long throws that they pin you in with and a couple of good strikers.
"They have had some tough fixtures against a lot of the top teams so we are expecting a tough game.”
Sounds like Tamworth play the way I was expecting City to this season. Wrongly as it turns out. There again I wasn’t expecting us to be challenging for a place in the play off spots either.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Going up? Hang on a second.

City have re-established their good start to the season by arresting the mini slide with a win against whipping boys Hyde last Saturday. Gary Simpson was at pains to consign thoughts of the “P” word very much to the back burner as he told the Lincolnshire Echo that fans have not even got their winter coats out yet so it’s far too early to start dreaming of the promised land :-

“It’s common sense, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves because that will come back to bite you in the backside,” said Simpson
“We are a close knit group. They work hard for each other. In terms of budgets they are punching well above their weight. They don’t fear anybody and they are right not to fear anybody because on their day they can beat anybody.
“It’s the consistency level that the top teams get that go on to win promotions or get in the play-offs.
“We don’t know where we are yet. If we can get another 20 points in the next 12 games then we can see that consistency is coming along.
“We will take the games up to Christmas as one season, and then from there we will take the games after that as another season.”

Simpson refused to be daunted by the two match blip which got some of us in a tizz either:-
“One minute we can lose a couple of games and it’s a ‘crisis’, then we win a game and it’s the ‘play-offs’, it is ridiculous. We’re 12 games in, we’ve done okay, we would like to do better and we will keep trying to do better.”

Simpson did not disguise his desire to banish the last few disastrous seasons from the supporters memory in those statements though and if the Imps are to present their credentials at the top table they are going to have to go to the likes of Nuneaton, second in the table and get something from the game. Can they do that? Not long to wait before we find out.