Watergate – Imps 2-2 Carlisle

I’m going to start in the unlikeliest of places this morning, because I want to talk about Carlisle United first of all.

There is going to be some mild ranting later on, it turns out a night’s sleep doesn’t help one bit with the anger, but I don’t want that to seem like an excuse, nor a slur on the opponents last night.

I thought Carlisle turned in a professional performance, one that saw them play a striker at centre half and pair him with a defender that made Matt Rhead look like he was malnourished. However, Gerrard and Bennett kept our threat at bay significantly better than a player I’ve billed as comparable to Sean Raggett and the indomitable Michael Bostwick kept them out.

Not only that, but Carlisle broke quickly, always looked a threat and managed to completely unsettle us and disrupt the rhythm and continuity of our play. Perhaps, had we not given away two goals, we might have been more assured, especially as Andrade had his full back on toast for most of the first half. 

I thought their fans deserve a mention for coming all this way on a Tuesday night and I sincerely wish them all the best in all their fixtures from now until May, bar our trip to Brunton Park. I have no issue whatsoever with them. Not one bit.

I especially rated the boy Nadeson up front, lively and energetic and I thought Neil Hair had a tremendous game for them denying two stonewall penalties. Mind you, given everything else we got wrong there’s no guarantee we’d have scored them and Hair did deny them one too. They say these things even themselves out over a season and at last count I reckon we’re owed three penalties and two red cards. Here’s hoping we get Seb ‘Homer’ Stockbridge at the Bank sometime soon.

That’s got Carlisle out of the way, now we’ll move on to the goals we conceded shall we. The first one was a mistake by Matt Rhead, granted, but when a striker loses a ball there should be a defence behind him capable of at least trying to intervene, should there not? To watch him run between our two centre backs, neither of them cutting the ball out nor alert to his run, will give me nightmares for ages.

Then their second goal, a simple hoof up field which bounced once and should have been dealt with. Back when I played (badly) for Wragby Under 13s I remembered my Dad telling the defenders a simple mantra that has always stuck with me: if in doubt, kick it out.

I don’t know if Wharton was to blame or if Josh has to shoulder some of the criticism but I do know one thing; as they’re watching that back in training tomorrow there is going to be red faces and a lot of apologising. Danny has already apologised to the supporters for the quality of defending, not just one the goals but all night. We never got to grips with their attack, they looked threatening whenever they came forward and the one positive to take from the game is we didn’t lose.

We did score goals of our own of course, one a great effort by Michael O’Connor who won our Man of the Match. The other has been described by Sky Sports as an intended cross, maybe it was but it brought a howler out of the Carlisle keeper. I felt he had a few in him if we’d challenged him enough, but we didn’t.

Lets move on to the other big bit of news shall we, the post-match rant by Danny about the state of the pitch and specifically, the fact we had no water on it. I’ve never heard Danny quite that angry before but similarly, I’ve never heard him quite as upset at a referee as I heard on Saturday evening. I get the sense Danny is beginning to get frustrated and I also believe had Rob asked the question of the referee, Danny would have refused to answer because there was no point at all.

Anyway, the water. I don’t understand plumbing but I have never heard of their being no water in a stadium. Did that mean the toilets won’t flush and the showers won’t work? Or do we just draw the water from the pitch from somewhere else? If I want to water my garden I go to the hose pipe, turn on the tap and ‘boom’ I’m in. Water. Is that not how it works?

I was genuinely shocked at that post-match interview, as were a lot of people. I know Danny Cowley as well as you do and he’s not a man to look for excuses, nor to apportion blame when there isn’t any, so it leads me to believe someone at the club has messed up, big time. I was also very surprised at Tom Pett then coming out and contradicting his manager, saying it was the same for both teams and they needed to deal with it better. I would pay to be a fly on the wall in tomorrow’s video session. Danny, if you’re reading this, please can I get an invite?

Anyway, we’ve got no water, abysmal defending and a decent opposition side, so under usual circumstances we’d lose the game. we didn’t, there’s a blessing and we’re still top, albeit by just three points now. MK Dons are coming good, but had a referee not handed them a lifeline we’d still be four points clear. Still, I’ll steer clear of that subject. For now.

Next page – Performance, players and Neil Hair



  1. Completely agree with you about John, we haven’t played to his strengths, we seem a little lost at the moment not entirely sure what the best way to play is. As for watergate, we didn’t get the pitch watered last season and surely you would then make an emphasis on ball on the ground work in the warm up to get the players used to how the pitch was playing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Danny so frustrated/angry on the sideline. We are still top of the league and a long way to go!

  2. Rheady has a loopy header cleared off the line, was beaten to several flick-ons. his error indirectly led to the first goal and was painfully behind play when McCartan broke to the edge of the box.

    Our tactics were dumb when Akinde came on, but he still made the best of scraps of possession.

    Much as I like Rheady, I think the hero worship from our fans is OTT in the extreme.

  3. Watching games on ifollow… Rhead loses possession, crowd make no noise. Akinde does the same and an audible moan of annoyance is picked up.

  4. John Akinde has almost become a soap opera on this and other sites… it’s time to let it go and concentrate on the general issue of our uncoordinated attacking play. Whilst set plays do play a major part at all levels of the game we do not however seem to be very wasteful of possession in the final 3rd.

  5. Agree, with the Akinde points you raised. He came on and had two or three decent shots. One which was cleared off of the line, another which the keeper saved but won us a corner. He put two decent crosses in (one of which was so agonisingly perfect but somehow all three on the intended targets inexplicably
    missed it) and finally as your video clearly shows should have been awarded a penalty. Had to voice this here as I have seen on forums where Imp fans have been rating him less than 5 out of ten… Come on people!

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