Loan Players: My Verdict (Part 1 of 2)

Just like a wedding DJ I get requests from time to time, and whenever I do I try to oblige. You won’t find me rummaging through my old vinyl records to locate Uptown Girl by Billy Joel, instead I’ll be flicking through an old Rothmans  Yearbook or club programme investigating how many goals a player has scored.

Last night a blog reader got in touch and wanted to know what I thought of the loan players, and whether we should strive to keep them at the club or not. I thought I’d already done a look at them, but flicking back it appears I haven’t. I write so much these days I can’t keep up, I’m surprised you manage to.

So here, in alphabetical order, is a look at all the loan players we’ve had this season, and my final verdict on them.

Harry Anderson

15 (15) Apps, 6 Goals

Harry had two spells at Lincoln this season, and it is hard to work out which one was more productive. Certainly when he first arrived he added a different dimension to our attack, he brought a goal threat from the opposite wing to Nathan Arnold and gave us real options going forward. Goals at Wrexham and Bromley were vital in the early stages of that superb unbeaten run, but his all-round displays were eye-catching.

Harry isn’t your stereotypical winger though, he’s devastatingly quick and incredibly direct, but he is also bullish and strong. He never shirks a challenge and is a real pain to try to knock off the ball. As we racked up the unbeaten games during the latter stages of 2016, he played a crucial role. Whether it was from the bench or as a member of the starting eleven he had real impact every time he crossed the paint. It was no surprise when he was recalled to Posh with rumours of a Football League club after him.

What was surprising was to see him in the stands as we beat Brighton in the FA Cup fourth round. He obviously had a soft spot for Lincoln, and Danny and Nicky had a soft spot for him. Once he regained fitness and made just a solitary outing for Posh, he joined again in a shock move to aid our promotion push. Two goals in the run in just underlined his importance and his quality.

At London Road he is seen as a full back, but under the watchful eyes of Danny Cowley he is definitely an attacking player. He made his second Lincoln debut as a 73rd minute sub for Terry Hawkridge as we beat Forest Green 3-1 at the Bank, and just a couple of matches later he was back amongst the goals. He grabbed two in a week, one that beat Chester 1-0 and a second to pull us level in the vital match at home to Torquay.

The question of whether I would keep him or not (were it up to me) is a no-brainer. A good friend of mine commented yesterday that he felt, of all our players, Harry Anderson was the one that had real Premiership potential. I’m not sure I agree with that entirely, but it is a measure of what a good player Harry is. I understand he’s been offered terms at Peterborough for the new season, so a move is unlikely. If it were possible though I’d have it signed, sealed and delivered before the awards ceremony on the 19th, because Harry Anderson is Football League quality.

Lee Angol

13 Apps, 6 Goals

Lee announced his arrival at Sincil Bank with a debut hat trick away at Braintree, and in a season where so many players have written so many headlines it was perhaps unsurprising this strutting centre forward from Posh had managed to do the same. He played with arrogance and swagger that night, and it gave an indication of what was to come.

He grabbed another crucial goal at home to Forest Green, and had he not done so perhaps we wouldn’t have gone on to win the game so resoundingly. He made that goal by holding off the defender and he finished as well as anyone I’ve seen in red and white all season, a finish he replicated on the final day against Southport. He has a natural eye for goal, but his all-round contribution is worth noting as well. Against Bromley it was his tenacity and constant battling that created the goal for Billy Knott. Arguably he played a crucial role in us winning six points instead of just one.

He isn’t quite on method yet and if we do sign him in the summer I think we’ll see a much improved Lee Angol, and that is some statement seeing as he had a good time in a Lincoln shirt. His all-round play reminds me a lot of Theo Robinson, he took stick during his tenure here, but he played almost exactly the same as Lee Angol does. They both chased the ball down extensively, often sapping energy reserves merely to pressure a keeper into a clearance. They often had to chase the ball into the corners and therefore find themselves on the periphery of an attack once the ball is won. They don’t get a lot of out and out chances, but in the case of Lee Angol (as yet) I haven’t seen him miss a genuine golden chance.

He presses from the front and when he gets a chance he works the channels too. Every throw in we get around the half way line sees him drop beyond the full back. He might not always get the ball, but it means the full back has to follow him, and that creates gaps up ahead. That might not get plaudits from the guy sat behind me, but it is crucial in making space and prompting an open game of football.

I think we’re on safe ground by speculating he’ll be an Imp next season. Barry Fry has said Angol thinks he can play at a higher level, but Angol retorted with a tweet saying ‘don’t believe everything you read in the papers’. He looked fairly happy as a Lincoln player hanging from the front of the victory parade bus, and I think he’ll be happy here next season averaging a goal every two games.

Macauley Bonne

5 (2) Apps, 1 Goal

That’s right, I’m not just looking at the loan players that ended the season with us. You and I know that means were going to be taking about Tom really soon, but for now lets chat about our first loan signing of the season, Macauley Bonne. On his debut after signing from Colchester he etched his name into Imps history, scoring the solitary goal as we beat promotion rivals Tranmere 1-0 at Prenton Park. In the grand scheme of things that was a vital win.

A couple of games later he took a heavy blow to the head against Barrow and that seemed to curtail his potential somewhat. He failed to make a significant impact after that. We drew 1-1 with Bromley at the start of October, and although Tom Champion made the headlines as it was his last appearance, Macauley also crept quietly out of the back door.

It wasn’t the last time he was seen at Sincil Bank though, a loan spell at Woking saw him grace the hallowed turf once again as we beat them 3-2 in February. He missed an absolute sitter that could have given them a vital point instead of handing us three. Once an Imp, always an Imp? I’m sure that wasn’t the case but it was nice to see him scoring for Colchester as the season drew to a close. I can’t see what he would add to our squad now, and as he has a year of his Colchester contract left my suspicion is we may see him at the Bank for them next season.

Riccardo Calder

2 Apps, 0 Goals

There isn’t an awful lot I can write about Riccardo. He played in the second leg against York and was (at best) average, and he played against Maidstone and was (at best) average. He wasn’t average in a Sam Habergham ‘steady seven’ average either, he was average in a ‘loan player not really match fit’ average. I strongly suspect he won’t been seen in a Lincoln shirt again, my gut feeling is he was signed purely as cover for Sam when the extent of his injury became well-known.

Tom Champion

3 (2) Apps, 0 Goals

Yay, I knew if I kept blogging and kept plugging away I’d get to write about everyone’s ‘love to hate’ figure before long! Of all the players who featured for Lincoln in this title-winning season, the name Tom Champion will not be remembered fondly. I suspect many will even recall two-game Riccardo Calder with more fondness than the midfielder from Barnet. He became the outlet for fans frustrations as his introduction to the team saw us draw with Solihull, the duration of his stay coincided with us enduring our first real wobble, and he compounded his villainy by gifting Bromley an equaliser in his last game.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Tom Champion is not a bad footballer. After leaving Lincoln he returned to London and made 26 appearances for the Bees as they finished mid-table in the League we have aspired to for the last six seasons. He is out of contract this season and as yet Barnet haven’t announced their retained list but I can see him getting a new contract there. No doubt he’ll be warmly welcomed on his return in Barnet colours.

Ross Etheridge

3 Apps, 0 Goals

Ross played three times for the club, but he completed his own mini-journey, the smallest of sub-plots within a blockbuster of a season. It could be argued that he played a key role in our FA Trophy elimination at the hands of York, we conceded two very soft goals that maybe Paul Farman would have kept out. Ultimately, one of those not going in would have resulted in us going to Wembley. He wasn’t a Tom Champion style villain, nor did he continue that sort of form when he finally got another chance.

Like Riccardo Calder I suspect Ross was signed with cover in mind and not a long-term deal, and it was the injury that Paul Farman had battled that resulted in Ross getting outings number two and three. Had we not wrapped the league up against Macclesfield I don’t think he would have featured, but as the league was safe he got two further run-outs, and in the match against Maidstone he had a very good game and kept a clean sheet. It was vindication for him, an appearance that prevented him from going down as one of those awful one-match keepers. For 87 minutes of the Southport game it looked as if he’d get a second clean sheet, but it wasn’t to be. Nonetheless it was nice to see him get a chance to redeem himself slightly for the York match.

I think Paul Farman will be our number one next season, and given the number of subs increases to seven I think Danny and Nicky will go with a second choice keeper as well. Could it be Ross? He’s contracted to Doncaster for another year, and if we’re unlikely to bag him on a free transfer then we’re unlikely to sign him at all.

Later on I look at the players you really wanted my opinion on, Billy Knott, Josh Ginnelly and Sean Long amongst others.

 

3 Comments

  1. Completely agree with all this.
    Steve Thompson goes on about them and Alan Power has been guilty of them, but that sideways pass to a Bromley player was a real sickener from Champion. When I saw him he gave the ball away more often than not.
    Not a lot of games to judge Etheridge on, but in his ‘good’ performances he was very well protected and had little to do. Would not want to see him as number two.
    Of all the loan players, if I could choose one, it would be Harry Anderson. An exciting player, scorer of goals….ruthless, fast… a game changer…..what’s not to like? Would be money well spent but I think he will stay at Posh.

  2. Harry Anderson was pick of this bunch if not overall.
    Angol really needs to improve first touch I feel. It bounces up and away from him when back to goal. However as a striker/goal scorer he seems decent although for all the ‘up front’ lads who have represented us this year I think Dayle Southwell looked the most natural. He seemed to develop an instant partnership with Rhead in that game at home to Woking and managed to stay on side, something which both Robinson and Angol seemed to struggle with! His movement anticipated Rhead winning the ball and his positional play looked better. Shame we didn’t keep him a bit longer.

    Champion just messed everything up and those few games he played in it seemed to me that it stopped Woodyard from playing his natural game and stifled his ability somewhat. I think accommodating him at home to Barrow and slotting Wood to right back which granted was Woods natural position also backfired as we missed Beevers height in the back 4 and missed Bradley’s bite in midfield. That square ball at Bromley about summed the loan spell up.

    The others kind of did a job. I saw the keeper last week at Southport. Wasn’t quite so routed to his line as Farman is and looked to command his area a bit more but on the other hand he’s dropped a couple of clangers in the 3 matches he played. Arguably he shouldn’t have let their player score from the right wing but better keepers than him have been beaten like that. Maybe with a run in a team with Raggett and Waterfall it might be different for him.

    Look forward to reading about Knott and Ginnelly as I wasn’t impressed with either. Knott might be better higher up with more time on the ball but overall I wasn’t sure.

  3. Would love to see Anderson & Angol in City shirts next season. Anderson for me is potentially another Gordon Hobson – started out as a right winger but with the strength and finisher’s instinct for a striker’s role – Look at his physique, look at his sense for the half chance, those 2 rebounds in his second spell were crucial.

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