I thought we were the better side in the second half, we played better football and although Exeter looked dangerous, I thought we had things under control. Yesterday I said not to bet on this being a goalless game, but after about 70 minutes I did just that. Exeter were happy with the draw, hence one up top, and we don’t have the attacking nous to break down a resolute defence. I only won eight quid, but I counted it as a partial refund on my Now TV pass. It seems whatever I tip Lincoln to do, you need to bet on the opposite outcome.
Looking on social media, I’m told we should go 4-4-2 again and use the width, but with Harry off form, who else plays out wide? Cameron Stewart hasn’t impressed, Jordan Williams looks better as part of a front three than an outright winger, Nathan is at Salford, frankly we don’t actually have the players to play 4-4-2 anymore. 4-3-3 makes us tough to break down but relies on the opposition having to come out and attack us. When there was space behind, we found it, especially Matt Green who was excellent again today. On Thursday, Exeter should come out and get at us, which could mean another game like Coventry away. I wouldn’t say we’ll definitely win, us and the Grecians are as evenly matched as they come, no matter what Sky said.
Neal Eardley whipped a cross in from the flanks towards the end of the game, which the commentator referred to as “Ear-der-lee hoofs a ball to Rhead,” and I immediately muted for the last ten minutes. A cross from 20 yards up the field on the flank was classed as a hoof. I suppose he hadn’t had enough opportunity to say the word hoof though, so he had to get it in. Ear-der-lee apparently once played for Blackpool in the Premier League, so you’d think a commentator might be able to pronounce his name right. I just had enough.
As in many play off semi-final first-legs, neither side wanted to over commit towards the end and make a slip. I’ve seen some people say how disgusting it was we were playing for a draw, but we’ve had injuries to carry and there’s 90 minutes left next week. There was no point in over committing and conceding a stupid goal, we absolutely could not give them something to defend on Thursday.
I turned the sound back up for Danny’s interview, or rather two questions. I was surprised he said he’d like to see more protection for Rheady, but when the programme cut to the studio I was even more surprised to hear Stuart McCall comment negatively about it, starting with ‘the manager there has said’. The manager? The manager Stuart? Did you not learn his name you disrespectful git?
Matty Taylor was then asked which manager of the two would be happier and to his credit he just said ‘Paul Tisdale, obviously’. For me, it brought to an end an excruciating 90 minutes of amateur coverage, I tunred off and reached for my laptop. One particular highlight was when Matt Rhead went up for a header, the commentator said to Lee Hendrie something like ‘was it like that in your day?’ Hendrie, a half-decent pundit, commented back that he wasn’t the most physical player due to his stature before the fawning reply came back, “yes, but you could play a bit couldn’t you Lee, played top flight and Championship.” Yes, he did, he also played badly for Tamworth against Lincoln which, to his credit, he mentioned.
It’s half time, nobody drew first blood and the advantage surely now lays with our hosts (or at last that is what the experts think. I wasn’t sure, but thankfully we have Sky to clear up these pertinent points). It’s not going to be easy, apparently it’s a long journey down to Exeter, although one assumes they’ll be making that journey too, otherwise they’ll still be in Lincoln on Thursday night.
Do I think we’ll win? My thoughts haven’t changed since the game kicked off. Either side could win, we’re as equally matched as any side we’ve met this season and the game will likely be decided by one goal, one slip or one tactical mistake. Exeter could slip up, come at us early and leave gaps at the back for our pacey players to exploit. They could keep it tight, just like the first leg, meaning it will be another slow, edgy affair.
I know one thing, I might be watching it on Sky again but I will not endure anymore of their Fisher Price research or stereotypical punditry. I’d rather do my own commentary, playing the parts of failed footballer and ill-informed commentator myself. In fact, I’m quite excited about doing so.