Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 27 November 2015

Men behaving badly.

I said yesterday as an Imps fan I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off and sure enough we have the news that Liam Hearn has had his request for a loan transfer to Barrow granted. Chris Moyses has wasted no time in getting a replacement in and in fact the replacement was announced even before Hearns departure was.

I must choose my words carefully here, I and I’m sure many Imps are feeling very bitter over this. City have given Hearn a chance to resurrect his career which has been injury plagued and, to my untutored eye he seems to have been nurtured to fitness to the extent he is starting games and plays as long as the management team feels he is able and effective. I wasn’t at Boreham Wood but judging by the comments I heard from fellow fans effective is not a word you would use to describe his performance on Wednesday and he was duly hauled off. Thursday morning he was on his way.

I don’t blame the club for agreeing to his request. The last thing we need is a sulky player and the best thing to do is get rid and get in someone who does want to buy into our vision. The danger is that the manager of Barrow, having stolen one of our prize assets will now attempt to make it a matching pair and prise away Matt Rhead. Its customary in this blog to wish departing players well but on this occasion I am unable to do so.

I’m going to miss Saturday’s game which as of yesterday I was very loathe to do. All of a sudden a break from football is just the ticket. That’s life, especially for an Imp.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

No disgrace in returning with a point-and a signing.

I find following City’s exploits away on twitter rather less stressful that the live commentary on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. I should be grateful I know but it also has to be borne in mind I pay a fair old bit to watch football on tv and you can’t have it all on at once.

Judging by what people were saying last night, the Imps started off at a fair old rate of knots at Boreham Wood, got a goal and were then pegged back when Boreham Wood equalised and City never again looked like title chasers. They didn’t lose either and it would seem that our hosts were playing football that belied their lowly status so we should be thankful for small mercies that City held on for the point.

Much was also made of the fact that the Imps were supported by a following greater than the home side which struck me in two ways; People are really starting to get behind the team and the league cannot truly be said to be a bona fide division five when that happens.

Having said the above, really old fogies if any are still alive along with me may recall visits from Sheffield United in particular to Sincil Bank when the whole of the Sincil Bank Terrace was given over to away fans, such was their support, to howls of protest from us fans to which the club replied that they were going to take the money and we would have to lump it. Quite right.

Further good news, I keep waiting for the wheels to fall off but so far so good, City have secured the services on loan of Nathan Blissett from Bristol Rovers. That surname is more or less a guarantee of quality being newhew to Luther Blissett, can’t wait to see him.

This is further proof, if needed that Chris Moyses is not going to wait for a decline in form before strengthening the squad.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

To boldly go……..

I really can’t recall a time when I approached Imps games with such an air of confidence and anticipation. Tonight it’s Boreham Wood. I’m afraid I’m still tempted to say where? There really has been time to get used to it now so I must get out of that habit, as if it made the slightest difference anyway.

It’s certainly another winnable match for City and whilst none of us will be taking three points for granted should they be gained then the Imps could be in third place come 10pm.

The fans aren’t taking anything as read, rueful experience has tempered any undue optimism but with the Imps in such a rich vein of form at the moment now is certainly the time to dream of better times ahead for City:

“I am well aware of where we stand in the table and everyone was in great spirits after the win at Torquay. The Imps boss told the Echo
"However, we sat down before training on Monday and talked over what we had achieved and how we got there.
"We took it in and then it was time to focus on Boreham Wood. The lads have responded well. They had a good cool down training session on Monday with some running, and then we had another very good session on the Tuesday.
"It is clear what we can achieve if we get a win, and this is the biggest game of the season so far, because it can really get us in that play-off mix."

The Echo helpfully told us that Nat Brown is City’s only injury concern which caused me a liitle amusement, not at Nat’s expense or indeed the Echo, they’ve got to write something, but with the way the Imps defence has been performing Browns injury woes are surely of more concern to Halifax than ourselves.

Monday, 23 November 2015

City start to move through the gears as Christmas approaches.

It’s often said that a teams position at Christmas determines where they will end the season so with City starting to put together a real run of form, they could even rise higher up the table in view of their game in hand over the teams above us.

Whilst the away win at Torquay may be seen by some as a routine three points I don’t suppose any of the management team or indeed the players allowed themselves such optimism. Nevertheless personally I was very confident that at least something would be got from the long trip.
I believe I’m right in saying that City stopped over before the game and it’s pleasing that they are able to do this without too much fanfare, it’s gone quiet on the banking front at the moment but with a few more attending games now hopefully the financial situation is becoming manageable.

There is really no reason now for any fan of a red and white hue not to attend at Sincil Bank. The football is now of a very acceptable standard for this league, the team are doing well and winning at home and there is a good, cheerful and loud support. Whilst going to the football certainly is not a cheap hobby it’s a lot cheaper than say golf or dare I say going shopping with the good lady and at least fans get home having seen a good exciting spectacle, win , lose or draw. As the festive season approaches the Imps need your support and an extra 2-300 on the gate on a regular basis could make all the difference to the quest to return to the league.

Another plus point, for me is that we have a manager who not only is winning games but talks a good game too:-

“We had a wobble for about 10 to 15 minutes where we stopped doing the things that we should have been doing, but apart from that I was really pleased with how the team dug in," Moyses told the Lincolnshire Echo.
"Torquay deserve credit. They made life very difficult for us at times in the game. They have nothing to lose and so they came and had a real go at us in the second half.
"To get the two goals in the first half was brilliant and I was delighted for everyone – especially as Luke Waterfall's goal was a carbon copy of the one he scored the previous weekend against Tranmere Rovers.
"I did love Liam Hearn's goal as well. It might be route-one stuff, but it is effective and when you have the players can do it, well, it is different class.
"Callum Howe came to the fore when we needed him. He stood up, headed everything, tackled really well and handled a tough situation.
"We will have a look at the goal we conceded. If we had been a bit cuter and a bit wiser, maybe we would not have given the goal away so easily.
"At the end of the day, all the players have done really well and it is has been another solid squad performance."

Happy days indeed.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Moyses won’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

I know I do rather harp on about this but way back in John Schofields time City were riding high at the top of the League Two table but failed to recruit around Christmas time. City’s promotion bid fell away as did Schofields career at Sincil Bank.

I’m therefore very pleased to read in the Echo’s website that manager Chris Moyses is making provision for new recruits come the January transfer window. He’s a bit cagey about whether they might be needed as of course everything is looking reasonably rosy at the moment and with every prospect of further gains this weekend as City travel to Torquay.

Matters are helped considerably by having squad members out on loan and, presumably off the wage bill.

"Getting the number of players we have out on loan gives us the opportunity to save some cash up for when it comes to January. Said the Imps supremo

"There are a lot of games before then and we cannot judge yet what areas we will need to look at, but it is important that I use the budget in the best way."

Bigger earners Nolan and Nat Brown are expected to stay out on loan although Brown will return to Sincil Bank as he is carrying an injury. Moyses gives every indication that Nat is still part of his thinking although to my mind it’s hard to see where he might slot back in unless there are injuries. Nolan, I’m sure is off Moyses radar altogether although the City boss enquires regularly as to how he is progressing. That’s the sign of a good manager but I would imagine he is concerned solely with whether the former first teamer is likely to be off his hands for good which is a shame as he is certainly talented but instead of working extra hard to improve his consistency, which is surely what he should have been doing, simply bailed out.

Some you lose as they say.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

England v France. Wembley – it’s a family affair.

There was a time when England and France were virtually one country. We certainly know about that in Lincoln where the two jewels in our crown, the castle and cathedral were built in the era when the language of the ruling classes was French or at least Norman French. Various Kings of England claimed France and vice versa.

After that things went a bit pear shaped but we’re friends and partners now.

As football fans we’re always being told that we’re well, you know, a bit of a long way down the food chain, certainly not on a par with those rugby loving chaps when it comes to manners. However, when our neighbours needed someone to stand shoulder to shoulder with them it just happens to be football that provided the opportunity.

National Anthems are a bit of a vexed subject when it comes to England matches and I must confess to being rather embarrassed at the behaviour of some of our fans when it comes to respecting the opponent’s anthem. For me that changed considerably when Wembley closed and England went on tour so to speak. I think the fans in Manchester and Leeds rather showed up London based England supporters and demonstrated a decency and respect for the anthems of other nations that has rubbed off on Wembley.

I didn’t however foresee a day when our fans would join in to sing la marseillaise and instead of showing the cross of St George displayed the Tricolour but they did and mightily appreciated it was as the French took to twitter to express their thoughts. Even the French government joined in.

La marseillaise is a song of defiance, solidarity and patriotism so, awful though the circumstances are it was entirely appropriate and last night gave hope that even amongst such sadness the sun will always break through again eventually.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Masterclass second half sees City home in a match they never looked like losing.

Before the match at Sincil Bank on Saturday Lincoln City and Tranmere Rovers supporters and players stood shoulder to shoulder with each other and, metaphorically speaking with the good people of Paris in a minutes silence after the dreadful events of the night before.

Make no mistake about it this performance was as good as any City have produced this season particularly in the second half as the Imps put paid to Tranmere once again at Sincil Bank. This was a Tranmere side featuring, for City fans, the legendary Gary Taylor Fletcher and Steve Mc Nulty and yet, despite the narrow scoreline the Imps swept the Merseysiders to one side in a really impressive fashion.

The first half was a somewhat ragged affair but City matched their opponents in all departments and, just as the half was ending scored the goal that was to be the only one of the match. After that Tranmere were always looking to gain parity but, for me, never looked like doing so and the Imps produced a display so assured that, such a rare phenomenon, I was able to enjoy the rest of the game somehow free from worry that the points would be snatched away. A real novelty for those of a red and white hue.

What a goal it was too as Luke Waterfall capped the latest of several commanding examples of the defenders art with a beautifully executed and powerful header that left the Tranmere defence and goalkeeper with no hope of keeping it out the net, his first for the club and a memorable one at that.

What particularly pleased me were compelling and authoritative displays from both man of the match Greg Tempest and Jack Muldoon, two players who have had to wait for a bit of limelight and maybe left City fans wondering if these two were the real deal, well they are. Add to that another combative and inspiring stint from Bradley Wood, what a find he has been and the ever reliable Paul Farman. I don’t say that tongue in cheek either. Each and every City player put in a shift and you have to bear in mind there was a fair bit of talent on the bench too with Chris Bush not even able to get on the pitch. Power and Hawkridge having to make do with cameo appearances.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a City supporter so long I struggle to find the superlatives to describe the completeness of City’s second half. I’ve not had to find them in quite some time of writing about Lincoln City but that second period was as good as I’ve seen in many a long year and has left those who were there daring to believe there may be a pot of gold waiting for us at the end of the very bright and colourful rainbow starting to take shape over LN5 8LD.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Cup exit now just a memory as City concentrate their efforts on league success.

I resisted the temptation to use the old cliché but nevertheless, the FA Cup out of the way, the Imps can now put all their efforts into the league and I think it’s fair to say we would gladly sacrifice a cup run, for that’s all it would be, for progress up the league table. They did make a bit of money out of the cup, the defeat was embarrassing but there you go. That’s life, particularly for an Imp.

The midweek win away at Aldershot was a big plus, particularly the nature of it, City going ahead, getting pegged back and winning the game in the last few minutes, just what we needed in the circumstances.

So to Tranmere and City are going to have to improve on the way they started against them in the cup if they are to succeed. I thought the previous cup fixture had exit written all over it at the start but, as we know the home side prevailed.

City’s last home run out ended in failure and of course Tranmere will want to set the record straight having lost at Sincil Bank. City will be buoyed by that away victory and will also want to show their fans that the home defeat was just a flash in the pan so the possibility of a cracker of a game tomorrow is in prospect.

Let’s hope a few more fans will join us to see if this fledgling promotion push has got legs.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Cup comes as a welcome distraction.

It almost seems that the FA Cup is going to be a saviour this season whereas it’s usually a source of pain.

Ok City are only in the first round but it is on the back of knocking Tranmere out of the competition, by anybody’s standard decent opposition and coming when it does, after the disappointment of losing the home unbeaten record maybe this remarkable season may produce the unthinkable, a cup run.

In Whitehawk too, City fans will take the opportunity of seeing a new club and they play in Brighton which is decidedly foreign territory to us Imps. It’s a long way to go but we Imps are made of sterner stuff and, I’m sure will grasp this opportunity for a break from the routine.

City await news of whether Kyle Wooton can play but I don’t suppose anyone will be getting too stressed about that. He seems a willing player but I think we’ve got enough in the tank without him to give Whitehawk plenty to think about.

So no need to be too despondent and plenty to look forward to as we anticipate the weekend, as ever.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Farman miracle save turns out to be the high point.

For much of Lincoln City’s match at Sincil Bank against Bromley I assumed I was going to be commenting on another routine home win. City set about their opponents with gusto and, despite Steve Thompsons comments on BBC Radio Lincolnshire I thought if it had been a boxing match by half time a sympathetic referee would have put an end to Bromley’s misery. Thompson thought City always were second best but I disagree.

It’s tempting to say Bromley had done their homework but in reality every manager knows what City are about now. Stop Rhead feeding Hearn and you probably stop City scoring, but can you do so? The answer in Bromley’s case was yes and Rhead looked a frustrated figure as he was frequently marshalled out of influencing the match. Add to the mix the fact that Bromley possess the leagues top scorer at the moment and the result was City lost their proud and impressive home record. Bromley emerged from half time rejuvenated and were a completely different proposition. A sympathetic home crowd could only register their appreciation of the effort that had gone into trying to preserve it. Gone are the days when a home defeat was met with groans and even booes, for the moment at least, City trooped off to, not exactly an ovation but some applause and certainly an understanding reception. Not every team have the personnel to conjure or muscle their way past City though and I fully expect them to bounce back and resume their impressive home performances henceforth.

To cheer ourselves up I want to finish off by drawing your attention to a man who I believe may make City a good bit of money and certainly earn for himself a move on to higher things. If you regularly attend at Sincil Bank you will not need telling. Over the many years I’ve been following City one position has stood out for producing players of exceptional quality and that position is goalkeeper. From way back, John Kennedy used to excite me, he was also my English teacher as it happens, Peter Grotier, Dave Felgate and Alan Marriott to name but a few and we must now add another name to that illustrious list, Paul Farman.

Who would have thought when Farman was sent out on loan to Boston United with his tail between his legs that he would blossom into the figure that so impresses us now. He yesterday produced a save of such agility and foresight that I’ve don’t think I’ve seen the like of before and I don’t believe I’ll see again. To quote another wonderful keeper, Gordon Banks, generally believed to have pulled off the greatest save ever, playing for England against Brazil, that save was up there with it. The only thing that places it second to that magical Banks moment was the fact that there was an element of being in the right place at the right time. Other than that in terms of speed of thought and ability to execute the save it was a once in a lifetime experience and I was glad I was there to see it.

Happier now? Me too.