Can Lightning Strike Twice?

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice, part of me is hoping that is true come Saturday, part of me hopes it is not.

Having beaten Accrington in the Checkatrade Trophy just a couple of weeks ago I’ll be hoping we do the same again. That game was scintillating, and end to end feast of football and goals. There is also a part of me hoping that the appearance of one man doesn’t spell the same as it did earlier in the season. More on that shortly.

Firstly, the stats. They’re much the same as when we looked at them before, Accrington haven’t played away since we met them and we haven’t played at home. As yet we haven’t been above Stanley in the league and even a win on Saturday would not see that happen. We could get incredibly close to them though, and considering the gap between us in August I think that is a positive.


In terms of who scores when, the spread is far less predictable than our match with Yeovil. All of the stats pointed to us scoring in the second period and so it came to pass. We perhaps prefer a first-half goal at home and we certainly seem to concede more in the second period, but I think both sides are a threat throughout the game. We do like to come out of the blocks quickly on home soil, but as we saw against Chesterfield and Barnet, we can struggle to maintain that pressure and intensity for 90 minutes. That said, our match against Accrington was perhaps the opposite, we had a poor first 45 that resulted in a rather fortunately 2-2 draw but then we impressed in the second.

Finally, the rest of the stats. Despite them being above us for much of the season we’re fairly even here, but remember this is our home matches compared to their away matches. Expect around five corners each, us to commit marginally more fouls (marginally means a very small amount fewer John Coleman), shots will probably be around the same too. We saw an evenly balanced game ten days ago and I can’t see anything changing that tomorrow.

Remember, they had Billy Kee and Kayden Jackson on the field at the close of business in the EFL Trophy and they still couldn’t break through, but both players will be a real threat. Sean McConville is a big player for them too, but don’t expect another 45-yard wonder strike from him either. The numbers all add up to a 1-1 draw, possibly us leading 1-0 at half time only to be pegged back in the second period. Only a true gambler would bet against Lincoln City at the moment though, especially as we know the formula required to beat Accrington.

John Coleman stated he had learned ‘nothing’ from our clash a couple of weeks ago and that it wouldn’t change his approach on Saturday. Danny is a little more open-minded and I’m sure he learned something of use, perhaps most significantly that Accrington “don’t like it up ’em”. With Bostwick returning in the middle of the park they’re only going to get more crunching challenges and fiercely contested fifty fifties. If they thought we were too rough in the EFL Trophy, they ain’t seen nothing yet. The long ball approach has worked fine for the past two league games, I sincerely hope we give Accrington exactly what they’re expecting on Saturday because my own belief is that it scares them witless. Stick the Big In up top with Matt Green and make sure the midfield is ruled with a rod of steel and I think you’ll have the beating of Accrington Stanley.

In any match though there is a wild card, a joker in the pack that could affect the outcome without Danny or Nicky being able to control it. On Saturday that factor is the man in the middle, Mr Seb Stockbridge.

Now I’ve typed that I can almost hear my entire readership looking up and wondering where they’ve heard his name before. You’ll put a finger to your chin in slight puzzlement, waiting for the big reveal. I tell you what, I’ll put a clue in pictorial form shall I?

This is a red card, the ref has X-ray vision and can see through players. Besides, Dan Jones said it was.
Not a red card because this is face to foot, not foot to chest. Jorge Grant might be kicking Sean in the face, but he is in control of his boot, unlike Billy.

Ah, of course. He’s the referee that ruined Notts County away, the referee who dismissed Billy Knott despite being stood behind a player, yet didn’t even book Jorge Grant for having a foot in Sean Raggett’s face. He’s the referee who even had me, genial, mild-mannered me, yelling obscenities at him like a rabid hooligan. He’s the referee who, in my opinion, incorrectly applied the laws of the game to spoil a great game of football. He’s the referee who likes it all about him. Terrific.

Since destroying that game he’s been at it again, most recently in the EFL Trophy game between Rochdale and Blackburn. He dismissed a player after just 28 minutes (sound familiar) for a challenge many thought was clumsy but not dangerous (hang on, that does sound familiar). I’ll let the Lancashire Telegraph tell the story as I wasn’t there myself.

“Then came the big talking point as Wharton dangled a foot towards the ball just inside the Rovers half, but only made contact with the chest of Joe Bunney and referee Sebastien Stocksbridge had no hesitation in brandishing the red card. While clumsy, it was by no means malicious and left Rovers facing the prospect of playing more than an hour a man light.”

So on Saturday if a player makes contact with the chest, expect a red card but, if form is to be followed, they can kick a player in the face and get away with it. Yes, it still hurts.

My genuine fear is that Mr Stockbridge has a different view of these incidents to many and it does leave players unsure as to what does or does not constitute a red card offence. Since Billy was sent off I have seen several high boots from both Lincoln and opponents which I believe Seb would send somebody off for. Similarly, I feel he reacted to Dan Jones’ protesting when he sent Knott off, will he react the same way when Coleman and the Accrington agitators come calling again? Ten days ago we had a strong ref who did not accept their moaning, histrionics and theatrics, but will Seb fall for their ploy?

Danny always says there is no point in getting wound up about things you can’t control but believe me, if I’ve gone to the trouble of posting stats and predictions just for the wazzock in the middle to send someone off for a so-called high boot, I’ll get very upset about it. I might even write to my local MP or something.











1 Comment

  1. Right Gary….now you’ve got me at it! I was enjoying a great day at Nottingham until Billy got sent off. He was looking good in that game and so were we. Some teams (Stevenage) you get away with 10 men and get something, but teams like County…..they passed it well and stretched the game and made the pitch big. Have a feeling Accrington would do the same.
    So do I claim a bad back and icy roads between Hastings and my train station at Ashford? After all both will be true.
    Nope. See you allin the fan zone.

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