Remain focused: Tranmere 1-0 Imps

Credit: @matt_scrafton

Football is a game that can delight and infuriate, a game where when you’re at the very bottom, small victories seem huge and when you’re at the top a defeat can feel worse than it is.

When you lose to one shot on target in a 90 minute game, despite utterly dominating for the first 45, it can be hard to take. However, take it we must. This evening James Norwood scored a breakaway goal for Tranmere after we had piled on the pressure and had arguably the best half of football, proper football, under Danny Cowley.

Is that not the game? I that not why we love this sport? That unpredictability, even when we’re on the wrong side of it. Today’s pain is tomorrow’s joy and we feel right now perhaps what MK Dons or Macclesfield felt recently. Okay, we played better than our opponents did on those days, but there’s still a feeling of being done over. it’s hard to take, but teams lose games. Unless you’re Arsenal of 2005 or whenever it was, you lose games. even games you dominate for 45 minutes.

I wasn’t going to do my usual post-match article immediately because I fear I would have the same knee-jerk reaction to that of some fans I’d heard on the radio. I was afraid I’d be too pro-club, too defensive of John Akinde and of Danny’s team selection. Then I realised what you come here for is opinion, whatever that may be. 

Not your enemy – Lee Frecklington (Graham Burrell)

I’m not going to over-analyse the game. we played far better than we have done at any point this season in a first half we could have scored four in. Tranmere came out in the second half shooting towards their own fans and were better, although they still struggled to provide a serious threat. the one chance they got, they scored. There’s a few points to pick up after that, all opinion to which I’m entitled. You’re entitled to your opinion as well, much of it revolving around John Akinde I’d guess.

He’s somehow become the punching bag for fans and as soon as we draw a blank, he’s on the block waiting for the chop. I admit, John Akinde hasn’t scored as many goals in open play as I would like to have seen. His all round contribution has been very good, but he doesn’t look on course for 20 goals at present. Last season, Matt Green had a tough spell and everyone wanted him out. Now, Akinde is having a similar tough spell and he too is some people’s favourite punch bag.

I respect opinion, I respect your right to express it and I won’t tell you you’re wrong outright because that isn’t my place. I believe John Akinde brings an awful lot to this football club, I believe if we hadn’t signed him then fans would have been angry as to why and I believe he will play a major part in our season. I cannot fathom, for one minute, why there is so much hate being directed towards him. Someone on the radio called Anxious Imp texted in (anxious about what? Being top? Get a grip) with a comment about Akinde. It might have been along the lines of ‘all the money we’ve spent and we don’t have a goal scorer in the team’. It may have been another texter with that, but I almost spat my Horlicks down my Super Ted PJ’s. 

I need this in my life



  1. As usual Gary you’re bang on the mark. The club are in a quality position and to criticise individuals seemed undeserved and unproductive. Top at the start of October is a superb effort. Onwards and upwards . UTI

  2. It was just one of those days. No need to panic. Too easy to blame the strikers when we don’t score. It just wasn’t our day today, even if we DID play some beautiful football. Shit happens. We’ll bounce back against Crewe.

  3. Akinde had McNulty and co on toast first half, its his work off the ball as much as winning headers – he won his share, Rheady just fell over and I’m afraid as much as he’s an icon of the last few seasons, is fading away and doesn’t suit this more fluid playing style. Norwood? Good goalscorer, total knobhead, if I was Mellon he’s be serving his suspension for free.

    Bozzie had a bad night by his usual standards, Vickers also, it was late first half when he nearly spilled it over the line. Freck had a good match but the midfield dynamic seemed to change, Pett was less effective than in the recent games with O’Connor. I’d be interested to see Green with McCartan, useless in the air but pace and skill to burn and suits the way we’re now playing.

  4. Why do some people think 20 goals a season players are on tap?? Akinde is a 20 goal striker, look at his record.
    Simon Yeo was too, but it took an awful long time to see it.
    It’s a recipe that you have to have all the right ingredients for. Prolific strikers are quite often selfish & single minded, does that sound like a Cowley player? No.
    Akinde was brought in to make a system work & it’s the system or method that brings the goals, not individuals. Blame the system when we fail, not individuals that make the system work more often than not.
    Hindsight is the only thing that can buy a 20 goal a season player.
    Akinde makes the system work & that’s enough for me.

    • Wise words Daniel… Luton were arguably the best “footballing” side last season. I believe we are looking more like them week by week. If people care to listen to Danny he will say it’s all about the process and small margins… if you get the process right you are more likely to get on the right side of the result. It’s not a given however and last night was an example of that. I do think at some point in the season though we are going to enjoy a goal fest at the Bank. We will be promoted but there may be an Accrington, a pragmatic side waiting to take the League title. I do however know which team I would want to watch.

  5. The game is about opinions, although some are worth listening to more than others. For example, Thommo’s man of the match last night was Frecklington. I also don’t think that Radio Lincs should be reading out the views of people who had simply listened to the game on the radio.

  6. I don’t often agree with how you see a game Gary, but on this occasion find myself in total agreement. It was an outstanding first half – just lacking the goals that a completely dominant team performance deserved. In that 45 mins Akinde terrified the life out of them and Frecklington was simply outstanding and much the best player on the pitch. I agree that it was the most complete 45 minutes we have played this season.

    What we also need to remember is that much of the summer/pre-season in terms of preparation and recruitment was based around playing 3-5-2 and indeed come Northampton that is how we set up. Since then, Danny & Nicky have worked out that the 4-2-3-1 (or variation of) is what actually seems to suit us best. However we haven’t had very long to make this work and it is still very much a work in progress. The last 3 games have been, in my eyes, the first proper glimpse as to where we are now going in footballing terms. The only thing that will happen now is that the process and method as Cowley likes to call it will become more clear and defined as the season moves on and the only thing that we are going to get as the season moves forward is better and better.

    Finally a plea……. Akinde is an absolute monster, a real handful and terrifies the life out of nearly every defence he plays against. Be patient with him. It takes time to settle into a new team, a new formation, a new area, a new style of play and to build up relationships and link-ups with other players. Once all the above clicks into place I have no doubts who will win the league this season nor that we will have a striker with over 20 goals to their name at the heart of it.

  7. Held this off long enough, just to see how the situation develops, but just going to come out and say it – if John Akinde was of Caucasian ethnicity, he wouldn’t receive nearly half the stick he does at the moment. If the player we signed in the summer had the appearance of Matt Rhead, he would be lauded for his brutishness, ability to bring others into play, and his ability to create chances out of very little, while his missed chances would be more easily forgiven. But no, hes ‘uninterested’ and ‘lazy’. It really is laughable.

    • I seem to recall criticism of Rhead in some quarters last year, which I think was equally unfair. I am in Vietnam so only get to odd games but watch the rest on I-follow. I think Akinde’s work rate is pretty high and he just needs a bit more confidence in his touch.

  8. That is a really stupid and insulting comment JB. By implication you are suggesting that Imps fans are racist and they only criticise Akinde because he is black. Have you forgotten the love we had for Keith Alexander. The reason many of us criticise Akinde is because he is clumsy and lazy and mainly because he does not do what he was brought to our club to do – SCORE GOALS. We are not racists and it is an insult to suggest this. As much as I love Gary Hutchinson and his blog, Gary isn’t always right in what he says, and some of the views agreeing with this article are bordering on the sycophantic.

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