Playing away against Oldham Athletic isn’t usually a game you expect to come away from carrying three points. Prior to this evening’s encounter, we had gone just under sixty years without a win there.
That run is now going to get longer.
There’s going to be a lot of social media feedback bubbling about after this one, there’s no doubt about that. It was an engrossing game of football between a tough, organised home side and at times a disjointed Lincoln City. The obvious punch bag is going to be everyone’s favourite scapegoat John Akinde, wrongly.
I’m going to launch straight in to the argument because I am baffled by both the criticism of John and his awful luck in front of goal. His recent run reminds me a lot of Matt Green last season, a player now widely described as a natural goal scorer but a year ago castigated as the cause of our poor form. This year, John Akinde is the one getting the stick and in truth, he’s turned in two good performances.
He missed a couple of chances this evening and his honesty probably cost us early on, but overall he was one of our better players. I’m not sure he’s as sharp in front of goal as he once was, but hopefully his time will come, just as Matt Green’s did last season.
My personal opinion is we should have won tonight’s game. To play against ten men for an entire half should yield a win, especially when you consider we asserted some degree of dominance in the second period. However, we couldn’t break down a wonderfully resilient home side and when we did, their keeper was in good form. We fluffed some chances, not just Akinde either, and in certain areas our usual approach broke down. I believe, if you read my preview, I called us not getting as much joy from the flanks and it seems I was right.
We didn’t get a lot of joy anywhere, but not through a lack of trying.
If I was putting my negative hat on I’d say our two attacking players are still too far from each other, I’d ask if we’re missing Frecklington with Tom Pett turning in an average performance. He’s gone off the boil the last game or two, but players come in and out of form all the time. It led to a frustrating evening in which John Akinde did 95% of his job right, missed a decent chance or two but was otherwise very isolated. There wasn’t a great deal of supply from out wide, McCartan was too far away and that somehow reflects badly on John and not anyone else.
The first half was all a bit shambolic towards the end, Danny Gardner’s injury prompted a spell in which little football was played. I felt for Gardner, he’s clearly a talent and when he went off I thought we could get the upper hand. then there was the obscenely long wait for an injured linesman to be replaced, before the red card.
I’ve been told by some it wasn’t a sending off, others think it was. I heard the line ‘evening things up’ in relation to Lee Frecklington’s injury against Port Vale, but that wasn’t the case. Miller went in high and reckless on Josh Vickers and in my mind, it’s a red card. If it was the other way around I couldn’t defend it either and the letter of the law these days is all around having control. Miller was high and had little control so it is a sending off. Fair play to Josh he didn’t stay down and I even saw some Oldham fans criticising him for getting up and the card still being shown. Stay down and he’s a cheat, get up and it isn’t a foul? Logical.
The best chance fell to Akinde in the early stages and depending on your outlook he was either unlucky or wasteful. He could and maybe should have gone down when his shirt was tugged, but he saw a goal scoring opportunity and went for it. He was close, hitting the bar, but in truth he should have scored. He’s lacking a sharpness in front of goal which I find upsetting because that is what he’s being judged on, nothing more. His all round play is superb and yet he misses a chance and everyone wants him replaced.
Still, at 0-0, 10 v 11 and with Gardner off as well, it did seem as though we were in the driving seat. League One last season, big club, good players, 59 winless years, none of that should have mattered. This is 2018, we had more players, we’re above them in the league and from this point on we should have won the game. It is that simple.
Next Page – the second half