It’s almost a shame that we’re turning around so quickly, the time to savour our Good Friday win has been a little rushed. We saw arguably the most exciting league game of the season just a couple of days ago, but it is parked ready for the challenge that tomorrow brings.
Tomorrow’s game is yet another tough ask, this time we’re the visitors and that advantage we had over Exeter is gone. It is almost a role reversal of Friday’s game, we’re the higher side, they’ve got home advantage and they need a win to keep their hopes alive whilst a defeat would dent ours, but not end them.
In terms of overall form, they’ve played one more at home than we have away, but our records are very similar. We’ve won six on our travels, they’ve won seven at home. It is yet another game where either side could win.
When you consider the ‘ten game’ stats though, we’re not coming out favourably at all. The only thing we are better on is average shots at goal and conversion rate, which I’m sure will surprise many Imps fans. Other than that, they literally beat us in every category.
The on stat that still worries me is the average shots it takes to score a goal past us. Our fans can comment as much as they like about misfiring forwards and missed chances, but we concede too many goal and have done ever since Raggs left. It takes, on average, five shots from the opposition before they score. It take ten to score one past Carlisle. Genuinely, it isn’t rocket science and whilst forwards are easy to criticise, the numbers are blatant. We’ve kept three clean sheets in ten games, that isn’t bad but if the figure was six, we’d be threatening the top three.
This shows that Carlisle have a tight defence, only losing by two goals or more on one occasion, but winning by that margin on five occasions. We’ve lost by three or more on three occasions, but rather bravely won by the same margin on three occasions. Much depends on which Lincoln show up, if the slightly porous at the back version show, we could lose by a few goals. If the resolute and aggressive defence show up, then this will be won by the odd goal, if at all.
The likely outcome is a 1-1 draw, something that wouldn’t be of use to them but arguably would do for us. Of course, we want to win the game but the Exeter match and subsequent other results have meant that a draw wouldn’t be the end of the world.
The next three likely outcomes are Carlisle wins, 1-0, 2-1 and 2-0. Even a 0-0 draw is as likely as us winning 1-0, but then again the Exeter result was 1% likely. It’s a good guide, but perhaps these stats are a better barometer of the game after it has taken place. After all, a 1-1 draw here would actually be a decent result.
Ritchie Bennett has grabbed three of their goals in their last 20 homes games, two of which were the first of the game. We’ll remember him from his Barrow days, I believe it was him and Jordan Williams that combined to send Danny and Nicky to their second home defeat as Imps managers in October 2016. That seems like a lifetime away now though, does it not?
In actual fact, the most likely first goal scorer tomorrow is our very own fox in the box, Matt Green. He gets a lot of stick from fans expecting him to be a Ricky Miller-style striker but he’s not, he works harder and runs further for the team. He might be one who loses out in the 4-3-3 as it pushes him into the channels, but two goals in three games is a decent return for any centre forward. If he took all of his chances with the same aplomb he took the second on Saturday, he’d have 35 this season already.