Frustrating afternoon at the Bank: Imps 1-1 Cambridge

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

I’m going to have to jump straight into the topic on everyone’s lips aren’t I? The red card for Ellis Chapman.

I made my feelings very clear in last night’s blog and in the main I stand by those comments in general. Yesterday’s official was terrible, he typified the lack of consistency and the arrogance being shown by a percentage of lower league referees at the moment. His decisions were clumsy, incorrect and at times baffling. It wasn’t just against us either, he denied our visitors what looked to be a clear-cut penalty in what looked like an attempt to ‘even things up’.

As it transpires, the popular opinion is he need not have bothered because Ellis Chapman’s red card seems to be the right decision. 

I’ll stand by my initial thought that it isn’t a sending off, just. I can’t see any way at all it will be rescinded, there’s evidence aplenty that it was a studs up challenge. Still photographs have highlighted it as a so-called horror tackle, the slow motion replay suggests so too.

Both can easily make something happening in real-time look far worse than it is. For me, their lad slides in under Ellis’ foot as the youngster goes to block the ball. In doing so it appears as though Ellis is coming down with his studs on Gary Deegan. The point to understand is very few players appealed for it and in terms of force, Deegan got up almost immediately. If there had been intent or if the real-time incident had any significant force behind it, then there could have been an injury.

Sadly, for that reason alone, an appeal will not be successful. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he made the decision quickly, without consultation and I still do not believe it is a red card. I respect everyone else’s right to an opinion, I hope that you afford me the same. My final comment is that the Cambridge bench told Danny they’ll help with an appeal, so all the still photographs in the world haven’t convinced them it was a malicious or dangerous challenge. When making your assessment, remember the challenge Matt Rhead made on Dean Henderson, a challenge that looked far worse in slow motion than in real-time. Also, remember the precedent last weekend where Lee Frecklington was taken out, injured and there wasn’t even a free kick coming our way.

If these things even themselves out, I feel sorry for Carlisle on Tuesday.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

I’ll park the decision and the fall out for now. I was so incensed yesterday I genuinely intended to write about the game up until the 21st minute and leave it there. Of course, the cold light of day has calmed me somewhat and there’s so much to analyse I’d be taking the easy way out in doing so.

We’re under a bit of an injury crisis at the minute, aren’t we? No O’Connor, Frecklington or Shackell. Some suggested Akinde was carrying a knock too, hence Matt Rhead starting. I’m not sure that was the case, I think Rhead impressed against Port Vale and retained his place on that basis. Still, to have the three players missing that we do cannot be easy to accommodate. At least last weekend we had Freck, but to have to start with Ellis and Tom Pett wasn’t ideal. No disrespect intended to either by that, but it heaped pressure on the two from the off.

Not that it mattered as we tore into Cambridge early doors. The first ten minutes suggested a scintillating game of football. They looked ropey at the back, edgy and nervous, and our goal came from the usual persistence of Bruno Andrade and then a smart header by Rhead. To see the big man with the armband on and scoring stings a bit, it means I have to give more money to charity!! Seriously though, it was a quality cross and goal. I blamed their keeper for being out of position a little, but it was a good finish nonetheless.

Not long after my Dad leant forward and said ‘I can’t believe this lot behind me, saying already we need a second goal. They’re never happy’. Within thirty seconds Cambridge were level, proving that for once, the moaning buggers were spot on. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t a good goal to concede, their lad seemed to have plenty of time and my own assessment is we weren’t screening the back four in the manner we usually do. If Michael O’Connor is on the pitch, they don’t score that. I’m not directly having a go at the players who were on the field, but a dedicated defensive midfielder stops the shot coming in or forces a pass rather than a pop.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

It reminded me a lot of the Swindon goal last season when we drew 2-2. Olly Banks (I think) hit it after we left their lad with time thirty odd yards from goal. On that occasion the shot was parried by Farms for a tap in, but the Cambridge lad left Josh with no chance at all.

It looked like game on then, but the 21st minute happened and the complexion of the game changed. If you go down to ten on 70 minutes then there’s a whole different approach, but we didn’t. We had too much football left to play at that point and it meant Danny made changes, changes that haven’t been well received by a large portion of the commenters on social media.

Firstly James Wilson came on in the centre of defence with Bozzy pushing into midfield and Harry Anderson sacrificed. It was harsh on Harry, but if you’re down to ten against a team with pace in attack like Cambridge, you can’t keep your wide players on and leave holes in the middle of the park. We had looked a threat and with that change our chances of winning the match diminished. I don’t think we threw in the towel, but at that stage the first intention was not to get beat. A point is better than none and if we average two points per game between now and May we’ll win the league. That is fact and you average two points a game by being sensible with changes when you have to be.

That brings us to John Akinde. As soon as we made the first change, the second was inevitable. It doesn’t matter than Matt Rhead was playing well, it wasn’t about performance, it was about set up. John Akinde was always going to come on, pure and simple. Why? Because he can carry the ball at his feet, chase balls down and generally offer more mobility than Rheady. Did he do that? Yes and no.

Next up – post sending off and of course, John Akinde



  1. Interesting article again Gary and don’t disagree with your opinions. What I did notice especially in the 2nd half their no.6, the other half of the Ellis incident was pulling a lot of strings in the 2nd half with acres of space around him, wouldn’t have had that luxury if Ellis was still on the field. I am very voiciferous at a game and don’t mix my words but will never boo and call one of our own and cannot understand any moron who thinks that it is helpful to the individual or the team. I’ve stated my opinions about referees before. Properly trained and full time in all leagues and Nat. Lge. Until that happens bring on the clowns. On another field on another day we will benefit from a clown like yesterday.

  2. Still don’t think it was a red, even after seeing the still image, it was mistimed, there wasn’t any malicious intent, yes his studs are up, but realistically if he’s going for the ball where else would you expect his studs to be? You would also expect to see 3-4 red cards every game.

  3. I back your view. The still photo gives no indication of the force involved. If Ellis had slid in from distance and caught him high with some force it was possibly a red. But their player got there slightly earlier and Ellis caught him as he tried to block the ball. It was a coming together- no more than that. A foul – maybe a yellow at most. And the point about the speed of his decision and lack of seeking a second opinion remains valid.
    As for Akinde I think the jury is out but very unfair to judge him on yesterday’s game as he was generally isolated and crowded in by their players due to the red card.

  4. I think your initial reaction and blog was over the top. I criticised you and you did not publish my comment. The Ref was most likely correct in law but could have sold it better with consultation. He didn’t have to though. No referee goes out of their way to miss incidents or indeed even things up. Maybe you should try doing a ref’s course before casting the first stone especially around fitness as I sit here with a pulled calf and sore Achilles from doing it myself on a weekend. I like your blogs but you do waffle occasionally and your last effort was tripe. Budding blogger or populist vote chaser?

    • Incorrect, I publish all comments on my blog. I just don’t look at them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You’ll find it there now.

  5. Sadly I couldn’t be there but I hear what is being said and think your open letter to the FA is spot on Gary.
    On the same topic but a sideways glance to stagsnet the mansfield town fans Forum.
    Have a look at Yorkshire stags comments on page 2 and 3 of the topic, will this team finish in the top 3. Disparaging and an incredibly infantile approach to we imps after their match yesterday when THEY also had a man sent off.

  6. Have You deleted the open letter to FA Gary? Playing devils advocate I could argue that The referee was totally convinced that the tackle was late high and studs up…a potential leg breaker. The fact that the collision ended up as a glancing blow is neither here nor there, I dont think there was any malice in the challenge but it is what it is……

  7. Bozzy had a couple of chances that on another day would maybe have gone in. Still no midfield, either in attack or last line of defence, and, appear to back peddle and not try to stop the opposition before they get to a shooting chance. Rarely did we attack at the back post, where potentially good opportunities have presented themselves. Disappointing day but a point is much better than none. And, still top of the league.

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