Nearly every possible permutation has been tried, Green behind Palmer, Palmer behind Green, Knott as a ten, Rhead as a ten, even Whitehouse had a run out there. With Notts County up in the Checkatrade this evening Danny might well look at a fresh approach. He might go with a strong first team.
After all, there’s no FA Cup or League Cup to worry about, the whole ‘Saturday / Tuesday’ regime of last season is going to be a distant memory by the time 2018 come around. We have a big clash at Crewe this weekend so there will be some squad changes tonight, but will it be a case of ‘more of the same’ from Saturday in terms of who plays?
I’m not a football manager, I don’t pretend to be, but if Matt Green is short on goals maybe he should start tonight up top? We’ve scored most of our October goals in the Everton match and with County likely to bring a reserve side including the likes of Elliott Hodge, it might be a good chance to get Green firing again. If he goes with Green, maybe it is also time to give the Big Man another start too. I’ve seen enough football now to say with some comfort that Rhead and Green are the best front two we have, even if it isn’t ideal. The pair just have a spark, they have an understanding that I believe only needs one goal to get it moving. Remember, Green and Rhead started up front against Wycombe and Carlisle, games we looked a threat in.
Josh Ginnelly looked brilliant until he got injured, since then he’s been off the pace.
Our wide players haven’t been getting enough of the ball either, Nathan showed his class in patches on Saturday but we’ve been lacking from the other flanks. The last FLT (Football League Trophy) game we played, JMD had a good performance, but he hasn’t fully been able to bring that into the league. We’ve actually been done by injuries and suspensions this season too, Josh Ginnelly looked brilliant until he got injured, since then he’s been off the pace. Billy Knott had got better and better until being sent off against County, since he’s come back he’s looked a shadow of that player. His lack of confidence was underlined with the chance he failed to take against Wimbledon.
If Harry is fit for this evening, as we’ve been told he is, then that will be one player who starts. He’ll get an hour before being withdrawn, a nice little warm-up for the match on Saturday. I envisage Danny also starting Josh Ginnelly, although I’d like to see Cameron Stewart from the start. Cameron has the potential to do a ‘Neal Eardley’ and come from nowhere to be one of the best players in the squad. He’s got pace, tricks and he links well with players in the centre of the park.
Against Everton Danny went 4-3-3 with one holding midfielder in Bostwick and two advanced players. If he does the same this evening it would rule out Rhead, unless the big man plays down the centre with Green off him out wide. I can’t see that happening, but if he goes 4-3-3 again it may mean a start for Elliott Whitehouse. Elliott is a great lad, but he is right on the fringes of the squad at the moment, he hasn’t done enough to stand out in the handful of minutes he’s accumulated this season. Games like tonight were made for him and if he’s given a chance he really does need a big performance.
The back four more or less picks itself depending on Sam’s injury. Neal Eardley won’t play unless he has to, he arguably been our Player of the Season so far, tied possibly with Michael Bostwick, and he’ll be saved for Saturday if at all possible. Luke Waterfall will likely keep his place from Saturday and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see Rob Dickie rested for this game. Dickie has had a couple of below par performances, not bad ones, just games where he could have perhaps been better. Danny might want to give him a rest, there’s an outside chance he might put Bostwick at the back but I can’t see it. I think the Viking in the middle will sit tonight out, Alex Woodyard will prowl the defensive midfield area alone.
Paul Farman will add another appearance to the couple of hundred he already has in the bag and he’ll be hoping for a win so he is ensured another game or two this season.
Danny wants to win this competition and now we’re out of the others, I do to. I’m not debating the pros and cons of it here, but for Paul Farman and Luke Waterfall there is a great chance to continue their fairy tale despite being on the periphery of the league action. Both were key parts of last season’s campaign, how much would both like to be at Wembley in April lifting another trophy? It might not completely compensate for missing out on most of the league games, but it would certainly be another memory for them to tell their kids about.
The wider football world might call me a scab or some other derogatory name, but I just support Lincoln City and I want us to win trophies and progress in competitions
I’m not excited by the prospect of tonight’s match, the atmosphere will be average at best and it is already shaping up to be a cold one. No, I’m excited by the prospect of progression because it offers a good chance to get to Wembley, especially if the sides we’re facing later on are not as focused as we are. The wider football world might call me a scab or some other derogatory name, but I just support Lincoln City and I want us to win trophies and progress in competitions. I want those fringe players to get game time and most of all, I just want us to score goals and win matches.
Therein lies the crux of our current issues, scoring goals. Tonight Notts County will probably field Nicky Hunt, Dan Jones, Haydn Hollis and Branislav Pindroch. Hunt and Jones have 19 appearances between them, neither forcing a permanent start in Kevin Nolan’s side. Hollis has played three matches, EFL Cup and twice in the EFL Trophy and Pindroch has kept goal twice, both in the Trophy. It is an unfamiliar and youthful back four that is there to be bullied and primed to conceded goals. The only thing Matt Green needs is a goal, one goal and his confidence will begin to build again. He is a 20-goal a season striker with both experience and ability in his locker and once he gets one, we’re going to see him kick on. Tonight might just be the chance he needs to get himself started again.