Continuing my look at the players who have featured so far this season for the Imps. I would like to point out that given my prediction of the Imps not getting an FA Cup TV game (after already being informed they had on Lincoln City Banter) does make my opinion a little irrelevant!!
Jamie McCombe 5/10
It’s been an interesting campaign for the big defender. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking he would partner Raggett at centre half this season, and experiment we tried at Dagenham. Raggett missed the opening game so Jamie also paired Luke Waterfall for the opening game, but since then he’s barely been seen, a cameo against Southport the total sum of his input on the pitch. That’s why he gets a five.
This blog doesn’t look at off the pitch influence though, and with Jamie recently becoming player coach the level of his input should not be judged purely on game time. He is clearly a highly valued member of the squad, almost always on the bench ‘just in case’, and a popular and influential figure outside matches. 5/10 doesn’t mean he’s crap, it means his playing career is winding down.
Taylor Miles n/a
I couldn’t rate young Hodge fairly without some game time, and I’m afraid it would be unfair on Taylor Miles to knock him for his one outing. An opening day injury has left him as no more than a footnote so far this season, and I believe that will change over the coming months. It appears he’ll be out on loan soon to gain game time, and I’m convinced once he’s fit he has an important role to play within the squad.
Jack Muldoon 7/10
Jack is another player who suffered an early season injury, but unlike Taylor he was able to play through the pain. It clearly detracted from his input and he eventually had a spell on the side lines, only returning in the last few weeks to full fitness.
Last season Jack was a wide player first and foremost, but I think Danny Cowley sees him more as a centre forward, and he’s being utilised in and around the big man, or to inject pace from the bench as opposition legs tire.
I like Jack, he’s a good honest footballer and I think he has the quality to make an impact this season. It won’t be easy forcing his way into the side, but if Harry Anderson does return to Peterborough in January then I imagine Jack and Terry Hawkridge will duel for the available space out wide. I can’t imagine Jack wanting to lose that fight.
Alan Power 6/10
It might seem a bit harsh to award club captain Power a six, but he simply hasn’t had the game time to shine. The last couple of weeks he’s been back in the side and he looks hungrier and more committed than ever, a quality that I think he will always be able to bring to the team. Alan has done five years now in progressively better teams and for my money he doesn’t look out of place now we have a strong and competitive squad.
I’m going to be honest with you and state Alan Power is one of my favourite players. I think not only his industry and work rate impresses me, but also that in five years of constant upheaval and hundreds of players coming and going he had the mental strength to remain fighting for our club. He has his doubters and some of them will read the 6/10 and smirk; you’d be jumping the gun. It’s November and now he’s got his foot in the door I can see him pushing for a start on a regular basis. Nobody deserves league football more than Alan Power, for sticking with Lincoln City through thick and thin.
Sean Raggett 9/10
I’m a bit stingy with the nines, I think there’s much more to come all over the pitch and I need to leave myself somewhere to go when we hit top gear. I will be awarding a couple though, and the young lad from Dover is one.
Maybe it’s the drastic improvement in our defensive fortunes, but not since Morgan, McAuley and McCombe (first time around) have I felt so secure with our defence. We now keep clean sheets, we fight for every ball and quite often teams simply cannot find a way through. There’s still work to be done but Sean Raggett has got to be a major component in this change. Scoring goals is all well and good, but if you concede them as well it makes all the hard work pointless.
That said Raggett gets forward with a goal as well, and that physical presence going forward is another factor in bumping him up to a nine. The frightening thing is I still think we will see more from a player we snatched from Dover *spits*. In fact I should give him a ten just for binning them off.
Matt Rhead 9/10
He scores goals, he creates goals and he pisses off just about every defender and goalkeeper he appears against. He did a U-turn and opted to stay with us for this season and fight for promotion. Opposition fans hate him, and whenever he scores he lets them know about it. His goal ratio is as good as any centre forward for City in the last thirty years. What’s not to like about the big lump up front?
Criticism aimed him tends to range from lazy to immobile, but if that’s the worst his detractors have got then they need just to look at the assists column, the goals scored column and the sublime finish against Chester. I think Matt Rhead is the most useful centre forward in the National League, and I guarantee every single other team in this league would play him up front. He’s absolutely critical to almost everything we do going forward this season.
Theo Robinson 6/10
Maybe it’s a lack of match fitness, but for me something just doesn’t seem right with Theo. He’s quick, there is no doubt at all about that. He has a good work rate as well, and for a couple of games he looked like he might just be perfect to play alongside Rheady. In recent games though his touch has looked bad, something you might expect from a non-league striker, but when it’s the former Championship player struggling to control the ball you have to wonder what the problem is.
He might have commanded a seven, but those misses against Altrincham were really poor. He should have scored two, if not three against the National League North side, we should have been out of sight. I know he claims goals left, right and centre but a decent centre forward would gobble up the chances put in front of him, not claim the scrappy goals. I just hope he goes out and proves me wrong on Saturday.
Alex Simmons n/a
Like Hodge and Miles I’m not going to judge Simmons on 23 minutes he got against North Ferriby. What I will do is draw attention to his exploits for Halifax in the league below us. Altrincham showed the level of football there isn’t that dissimilar to our league, and yet Simmons is tearing the league up. He could have a big future with us.
Luke Waterfall 9/10
Coming from a six or seven last season to a nine or ten this season really demonstrates how much Luke Waterfall has taken the advice of the managers on board. This season he looks every inch a captain, a leader and a behemoth of the back four. Like Raggett he gets forward when he can and adds value up top, but he is rarely found wanting at the back. I think he would be leading any ‘most improved player’ award at the moment.
At the start of the season I had him as our reserve centre half at best, but now I don’t even glance at the defence on the team sheet because I hear Danny has them printed with Raggett and Waterfall already written in to save him time. I’ll stop short of using the word brilliant here, only because I’ve got the Woody brothers coming up and I know it’ll get used at least once.
Elliot Whitehouse n/a
Final n/a I think. Three substitute appearances at the moment isn’t enough to judge the England C player on, but the fact he is representing his country gives us some indication not what the lad is about. I would imagine his on going absence is both an attempt to build up fitness to ‘Cowley levels’, and due to the form of Alan Power since Beevers injury.
Bradley Wood 8/10
Now I know both Brad and his partner Loren read the blog so I’m not going to get all sycophantic and start going on about how great he is. Okay, I might.
He is brilliant by the way, he’s got the drive, energy and enthusiasm for this club that I feel sat in the stands. Every game he looks like a fan who has been given a shirt and told to go out and do his best. He shed the ‘former Grimsby player’ tag midway through his first game last season I think, and is now just better known as ‘that hard bastard that gets everywhere’.
So why an eight? Well firstly an eight is a good score, ask Arnold and Anderson. Last season Brad stood out from the crowd, but this year it’s been increasingly difficult for him to do so as everyone around him has improved. My own feeling is he is a full back, terrifying wingers and getting up and down the line, so from a personal perspective I wasn’t always happy to see him in the middle of the park. I think we see the best of him at full back, and for that alone I’ll leave myself somewhere to go with my ratings later in the season. I wouldn’t want to go into a fifty fifty with him, not even a seventy thirty in my favour. No chance. The boy can tackle.
Alex Woodyard 9/10
Alex is brilliant, he compliments everything else we have beautifully. Like Brad he has an engine that simply doesn’t stop working and his distribution is always clever and well balanced. He’s added something we haven’t had in a long while, a hard working midfielder doing the unnoticeable stuff, but he gets noticed for it.
It’s clear why he’s highly rated at the club and in the wider game, and I think he’s only one or two elements away from going on to a really successful career. He does need to add a goal or two to his repertoire, and (only on occasion) he has lost the ball a couple of times in recent matches. When I’ve just written a book and had to write about Trevor Hebberd, Ian Hamilton, Dave Phillips and players like that, it’s then I realise how important a player like Alex really is.