Defeat down in Exeter this afternoon means the Imps are still looking for the first win of the season, and doubtless many will be looking at two points from nine with a degree of trepidation for the coming weeks.
City have had a tough start to the season, Exeter were play-off finalists last season, Wycombe Wanderers were on the edge of the top seven and the next two opponents, Luton and Carlisle, were the other sides in the top seven that were not promoted. However, we’ve been touted as potential play-off material ourselves and therefore we need to be winning games against our rivals. At this present moment, a win of any sort would be nice.
Perhaps the more reactive fans will already be critical, but we have to remain positive that things will get turned around. In the grand scheme of things very few teams will come and win at Exeter. This isn’t time for fans to panic, but I imagine Danny and Nicky will be wanting to put some real work in over the next week.
The issue today was City simply not creating chances. Arguably it was an even game in terms of possession and play, but Reuben Reid scored and Lincoln City did not. We didn’t dominate, this wasn’t Morecambe all over again, but relatives of mine (Exeter fans) messaged at half time to say how well we were playing. That means very little if we don’t create chances, after last week Danny said he can live with missing chances if we’re creating them. This afternoon we did not, and with respect I’m not sure this Exeter side will trouble the top seven this season.
I wasn’t at the game so I’m not in a position to dissect the finer details, I’m pulling this together from conversations I’ve had through the game. I think today was a bad day at the office, but in context it isn’t a debacle. City did still have an even amount of the play, we defended well in the main. We might only have two points from nine, but we haven’t played badly in any of our games. Neal Eardley had a good game today, and with Sam to come back soon I suspect our offering from out wide will get better. Remember, our captain only return today too, it is early days for this fledgling side and nobody ever said it would be easy!
I still believe in this squad and in our management duo and I’m sure everyone will feel the same. It isn’t nice looking at the league table and seeing us ensconced in the bottom three, but we won’t be there at the end of the season. Those that thought we’d go straight through the league will perhaps be thinking again, I suspect the level of opposition has taken some fans by surprise. I’ll hold my hands up, I thought the quality between National League and League Two was minimal, but I think we’ve seen that there is a significant difference. On the whole today much of the play resembled some of our matches last season, but that little bit of class from Reid is the difference.
Three games gone, there is no need to panic as yet. and I really hope that the general consensus is to remain positive. I also hope we don’t see lots of calls for us to splash the cash on a top striker; we have a top striker. Matt Green has two in three and has every attribute needed for a centre forward. Where work will be put in is the quality of the ball we are delivering. I know we created a lot of chances last season, but perhaps the quality from out wide hasn’t quite been there. Certainly if we’d had 26 efforts today as we did last week I think we would have beaten Exeter, their keeper was no Barry Roche and as the game wore on they tired much quicker than City.
The patterns of play are right, the work rate is spot on and we do have quality throughout the side. Another area we have quality is on the terraces, 316 hardy souls traveling down to Devon is no mean feat. On the radio they were in fine voice, and that carried on despite the result. Fans don’t win points or games, but that support is superb and I’m sure it will continue as fervently over the next two tough games. Similarly if we keep doing the right things next week against Carlisle in a loud and packed Sincil Bank then the win will come, and once we rediscover how to win games we’ll be fine.
Danny Cowley wasn’t hiding from the fact the Imps are struggling, but as usual there’s no excuses.
“We’re disappointed to lose. I’m not interested in being a ‘nearly’ man and at the moment we look like a nearly team.”
“We dominated the first half in terms of possession, we were pleased with the performance up until then. Their keeper has made an incredible save from Matt Green, but they’re the harsh realities at this level.”
“We did enough territorially and got in enough good areas to score, but we have a no-excuse mentality. We’re winners, we like winning, we’re used to winning and we’re incredibly disappointed not to do so.”
Whilst it hasn’t been the sort of start that was in keeping with our rampant championship last season, it is a big step up for everyone at the club. Danny and Nicky will be aching for their first win as Football League managers, and whatever the next few months hold they know they are safe and comfortable to develop the team as they see fit, even if the results are not there straight off. Nobody ever won a division or got relegated in August, and once we’ve got the next two games out of the way I believe there will be a clear pathway to a mid table surge.
There will be no rash purchases, Danny said that poor decisions are made when emotion is brought into football, alluding to the fact he won’t let the three-game winless start to the season cloud his judgement on player recruitment. He. like me, argued that another striker isn’t urgent purely because of how we’ve done over three games, I reiterated Matt Green has already scored twice this season.
Keep the faith, it could be worse. We could be Tranmere still stuck in the National League, and like Hartlepool we may have two points, but they’re third from bottom of the National League and we’re a League Two club with a bright future.