Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 28 August 2015

Added spice to the derby this season.

Once again Grimsby fans have shown their appetite for the derby fixture and with a bit of enthusiasm, not always in evidence from City fans for this game, the gate could top the 6000 mark bringing a rare smile to Mr Dorrian’s countenance.

There is an extra element to the clash this year in the form of Messrs Liam Hearne and Bradley Wood and they have both let it be known that not only do they relish the challenge but are keen to put one over on their old employers.
Bradley Wood hit the nail on the head when he told the Echo:-

“There are no friends in football,"
"I've played in derby games and my partner's dad is a big Grimsby fan, but I've got a job to do and that is for Lincoln.
"I will be going for three points and that is all there is to it.
"At the end of the day, Grimsby Town fans are not going to pay my mortgage."
"I live up that way and what with my partner's family being fans, I know what the expectation is like this time round.
"There is a lot of belief that after missing out in the play-off final that it could be their season this time. Football is never that simple , though."

Hearn meanwhile is pragmatic about the game and the reception he may receive from Mariners fans:

It will be interesting to see what reception I get,"
"I hope they give me a good one, I always got on well with the supporters.
"Hopefully they should also know better than to hammer me because I thrive off that.
"They should welcome me, but I know football and I know how fickle fans can be. I've got a job to do and I can get on with it on Saturday.”

Time will tell whether our new hero will make the match but as for as the pair are concerned it’s business as usual, irrespective of the opposition. A double last season and City’s generally good start, last Saturday excepting have put a spring in Imps’ step. Hopefully the reverse at Forest Green Rovers will see City in a mood to erase that memory with a good home display and three lovely points.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Bob’s ready to put his money where his mouth is.

Amongst his many talents Bob Dorrian cannot put forward public relations as one of his greatest. I suppose if the Echo want an interview the chairman of a football club has to oblige but it always seems to go a bit pear shaped in my view.

Take todays Echo webpage headline “Lincoln City chairman backs best squad since relegation to challenge for playoffs.” Well we all know what he means and we share his enthusiasm and hope but for me I felt a little bit deflated by the reference to relegation. I’d been trying to put that at the back of my mind. Still, the chairman’s job is to deal with the unpleasant truth of running a football club and I would imagine that is a world away from the rare ecstasy of a successful season.

Still, there is good news in the form of this quote:-
"We have got together a good squad of players, a squad I believe can get us into the play-offs,"
"If we do get up into the promotion places, then we need to seize the opportunity by supporting the manager financially.
"We're always looking for every opportunity to improve the playing squad and if Chris Moyses can come to us with a good case for a player , then we will do all we can to make it happen.
"Chris has worked hard on his recruitment already and it has shown in the quality of players he has managed to bring to the club.
"With every signing he has looked at their background and done his research on them and it has made a big difference."

It would take a very churlish fan indeed to deny that it has been a decent start to the season and for that matter to deny the chairman some respite from the seemingly endless run of bad fortune we’ve all been enduring and this weekend presents an opportunity to show this is not a flash in the pan with the visit to Forest Green Rovers.
Leaving aside the, to me, still unaccustomed thought that FGR are some sort giant we will do well to not try to upset too much in his lair, Saturday is a chance to really nail our colours to the mast and come away from Gloucestershire with something even if it is only a point ahead of the big one the following week.

Talking of Mariners, which we weren’t particularly, the really good news is that Liam Hearn is fit and scoring and he’s a happy bunny:-
"This hat-trick is up there. With the time I have spent out with my injuries, this one means a lot to me," said Hearn, whose start against Braintree Town last week was his first in a competitive game since August 2014.(Lincolnshire Echo)
"I have always scored goals. I don't want to sound arrogant, but when the third one went in I wasn't that surprised.
"I know what I am capable of and what I have got in my locker.
"The work I put I on the training ground and the work I have done in pre-season is helping me and long may it continue."

Yes indeed, we’ll all drink to that.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Superb strikers and desperate defending conjure up a midweek treat.

Liam Hearn took home the match ball but it was Matt Rhead who took my eye particularly in the first half of last night’s encounter with Macclesfield at Sincil Bank. Perhaps a bit unlucky not to be in an argument with Hearn over the ball Rhead took a fair old bit of stick from the Macc defenders but still managed to bag a brace himself and it was only that kamikaze defending early on and the late consolation that slightly took the gloss off a really fine performance from the Imps.

It’s ironic Hearn scored a hat trick on the occasion of a, I’m sure, rare loss for Grimsby Town his former hunting ground to enable City to leapfrog the Mariners in the table. It’s very early days obviously but if City could repeat that come the end of the season they will I’m convinced be at least in the playoff places. For all our rivalry I think most Imps expect another very strong campaign from the Mariners this term. Wonder what their fans thought when they saw that? Sets it all up very nicely for the forthcoming derby.

This being my first match having missed the last home game, although I was at the Leicester match, it was the usual eye straining affair trying to make out the names on the shirts made doubly difficult as said names are printed directly on the red and white stripes and not on a plain background but mostly due to the wholesale changes to the squad. Just Farman and Nolan on at the start from last season’s team.

So are City a better proposition this season? Well they served up a thriller last night. Fans dream of 5.3 wins, managers probably 1.0 but a win’s a win. Defensively it was an awful start but what’s important is that they weathered the storm and produced a blitz to simply blast Macc out of the game. That “consolation” at the end was a worry though. Having got themselves in complete control and playing some good possession football City let one slip at the wrong end.

I do hope they won’t regret that at the end of the season.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Imps shuffle the pack in early encounters.

Chris Moyses has had no hesitation in leaving out established players as the fixtures come thick and fast. Alan Power was on the bench for last Saturdays away test against the league leaders.

At the same time, whilst admitting players need their recovery time the management have sent a clear message to players that any dip in form will be rewarded with a “rest”.

Goalkeeping coach David Preece explained the clubs philosophy to the Echo:-

"It's early in the season and the lads are fit as a fiddle. Two games in a row is not going to hurt them at all,"
"If we do have to look at the players' fitness then we will. You have to look at Alan Power. He's worked really hard in pre-season to come back and look really sharp. However, he's put that much effort in he's had a bit of a dip.
"He got taken out and then when he comes back on the pitch again and he's fresh again.
"We go into the match in a good position. We've got five points out of the first three games and we are unbeaten. We are looking tight at the back and we will want to try and win all our home games."

Defender Luke Waterfall was not too chuffed to be pegged back by Eastleigh but felt that, on reflection a draw might have been a better result than first thought:-

"It was disappointing to concede against Eastleigh, especially from a personal point of view because as a defender you'd like a clean sheet, I think Eastleigh will be up there come the end of the season, so it will be a good point when we look back.”

On to tonight then and the visit of Macclesfield and another stern test. Will the Imps emerge victorious?

Come down to the Bank to find out.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Spitfires forced to make an unscheduled stop.

It rather looked as if City might have exceeded my expectations on Saturday as they led Eastleigh for some considerable time. The home side were able to peg the Imps back but nevertheless City came away with a point which is more than anyone else has done this season.
David Preece told the Echo the Imps are a better proposition this season, measured against their previous performances against the money bags Spitfires:-

"If you compare the two seasons, we were a bit ragged at times in past games against Eastleigh," said the goalkeeping coach. "It was in those matches that Eastleigh's own experience told – especially in the game at home at the end of last season.
"They were a very experienced side, it was more that than any brilliant football they outplayed us by. Because of the experience we brought in over the summer, we nullified that advantage. We look a lot more solid this time. We were more disciplined than we haven't been in the past and it is why we feel disappointed we haven't won the game.
"We have had young sides in the past couple of seasons,
we haven't had the senior players in there. You do get that inconsistency as a result. What you need is to get results in games when you aren't playing well and knowing what to do to stop the other side. On Saturday, though, it was a great attacking performance and we certainly had plenty of chances to win the game.
"There is a lot of expectations on Eastleigh. There is no getting away from that as they have a big budget. It doesn't make a difference at the end of the day. We got our side together for the budget that we have got and we believe in them as much as we do if we had more than £2m to spend. It has to be like that. The manager has done really well with his recruitment and we can see the influence the experienced players are bringing to the squad."

Ah, that budget thing, I do hope were not going to get this week after week but you can’t deny that there are some sides in the division that have the upper hand when it comes to finances and we just have to get on with it. In any event, City will have a considerable advantage over many if they can maintain their impressive start and the fans start to return to Sincil Bank.

One opportunity to do just that presents itself tomorrow evening for the visit of Macclesfield. I’ll be there. Will you?

Friday, 14 August 2015

Imps head in an Eastleigh direction.

Well it’s rather nice to be getting neck ache from looking upwards at the table, early days as it is and I suppose we can describe Saturdays encounter with Eastleigh as a top of the table clash. Certainly the home side are top of the table after the opening games and City are just outside the play off places.

Chris Moyses underlined what we were saying in this blog previously, it’s his team and he sinks or swims accordingly:-

It's nice to be going to Eastleigh with our own people and knowing what we want to do," He told the Echo
"It is going to be a tough fixture as they proved last season they were a good side and they are now one of the favourites.
"We have to respect that and do the right preparation beforehand to make sure we can come out with something from the game."

This next game will undoubtedly be tough but an early opportunity to establish Imps credentials although a draw would be highly satisfactory and keep City moving along whilst remaining under the radar.

The last article on this blog was, as usual publicised on twitter and I was very pleased to have the trailer favorited by none other than Lincoln City FC official twitter account so maybe Mr Moyses will see this article and berate me for my lack of ambition in which case I’ll prepare for the hairdryer treatment.

It’ll be an honour.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Imps defeat the Iron to gain first league win.

No, not that Iron and not that league come to think of it, City maintained their unbeaten start and good form against Braintree Town last night to record their first league win, away in typical City style having drawn at home in the match against Cheltenham.

Not having been there myself (see earlier article) I believe a home draw against recently relegated league opposition and to come from behind to boot was a decent result. City followed up last night with an expected (by some) away win to get off the mark nice and early and hopefully set the tone for some probably hopelessly optimistic cheerfulness.

Chris Moyses is a happy manager after these opening skirmishes and of course this is his make or break season, it’s his team, his selection and his players:-
“When we went to the Army camp in pre-season they talked about being robust," said Moyses. "They talk about become hard to break down and I think that is where we are. The lads put their bodies on the line and they are a great group of men.
"The experience in the side helps the young lads along, they are learning how to win games of football and the team becomes stronger.
"It is early days, but we wanted strong characters in the team and we certainly have got plenty of them.
"The backline have been resolute and more importantly, as a back four, there is a lot of good talking and communication, which makes life as a defender a lot easier."

What of the game The Echo asked :-
"Matt Rhead had a great game," he said "He led the line like he does. He wins headers, causes problems and brings players into play – that's what we got him for.
"It was an instinctive finish for the first and came from a great ball from Craig Stanley. It was really well played.
"There was no arguments about the penalty. The defender had to bring him down otherwise Rhead would have scored and then it was topped off by Stanley's goal."
"I wish we had put the first penalty away and they were slightly fortuitous with their goal, as it took a deflection, but it turned out okay."

There’s a long long way to go but the lengthiest trek starts on your own doorstep and City are starting to get a bit of distance travelled already. Long may it continue.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Fan-fare for Moyses.

Well the new season is upon us and Mrs A has organised a nice weekend at the seaside for us. This despite years of careful training and planning I find myself at Scarborough rather than Sincil Bank. Hey ho. Mind you there was a time when early August meant picnics and sandcastles rather than football it is all rather early.

So how does this blog view the upcoming fare I hear you ask, will it be a pitch invasion for all the right reasons come the end of the season? The Lincolnshire Echo is optimistic quoting Chris Moyses, now divested of that inconvenient director tag, who has introduced a new look professional mantra to go with hopefully superior fitness:-

"They are simple little changes, but they make a big difference in the atmosphere," said the Guvnor. "The standards in cleanliness and timekeeping create a professional environment and that rubs off on the players.
"As a result we are seeing a committed bunch who are getting in early to training and putting in the extra effort .
"But they can also cut loose with the fines court providing plenty of fun and banter, but it also instills a sense of self discipline."

The fines court being a jokey do-it-yourself style system the players will administer themselves to deal with minor misdemeanours, something Moyses hopes will boost morale.

The Echo states excitement levels are building amongst the fans but veteran superfan Chris Ashton as ever has his feet planted firmly on the ground:-

"This is Lincoln, we're not the sort of people to go shouting from the rooftops that we are going to win the league," He said. "There are plenty of other clubs out there who are doing that.
"We will go about our business and hopefully be looking towards the top of the division rather than the bottom of it as we have done in recent years."

Ah the Oracle, how we miss his column in the Football Echo and how we miss that publication too. His full title was of course The Oracle of Optimism, is he optimistic? I think I detect a frisson of anticipation.

As ever, this being Lincoln City, financial concerns are never far away and if there is any real sign of a thaw in the relationship with the Coop Bank I haven’t heard about it but Moyses isn’t letting that bother him quoting “Team Lincoln” as his epithet:-

"We are 'Team Lincoln'.We cannot worry about others, only ourselves. And we all need to come together.
"I feel that is happening. I am a fan, I know what this club means to people and I have its best interests at heart. I will be doing my upmost as I know others will.

"We will not be successful as individuals, we will only taste success as a team and we are all part of that team."

Now what happened the last time we titled ourselves Team Lincoln. Oh yes……..