It won’t be another Checkatrade Wembley appearance and, even worse, Danny and Nicky made me insert some new rows into my spreadsheet for the players they selected. While I’m never happy for the Imps to lose, I am somewhat glad that our shallow squad can now turn their attention to both the League and the FA Cup. Before Everton, there’s the small matter of 6 crucial League Two ties that take us into 2019. First up is a trip Stevenage. Here are some things to look out for:
1) The Boro (All Stevenage stats are League only)
The first thing you’ll already know about Stevenage is their number 1 on the programme. Paul Farman is obviously no stranger to us but it appears Seny Dieng is likely to start ahead of him for the hosts. This is a shame for Paul as he seemed to start the season well before an injury conceding just 9 in 8 games and keeping a clean sheet in 3 of those. His replacement isn’t far behind, admittedly, letting in 15 in 12 games and keeping 4 clean sheets. However, in November, Dieng shipped 11 goals in 4 games. It seems that now may be a good time to play them.
However, this won’t be a walk in the park. Despite currently sitting just out of the playoffs, they’ve only lost 2 of their 10 home fixtures and both of these have been narrow 1-0 reverses. They’re certainly stronger at Broadhall Way and have won twice as many there as on their travels. Fortunately, we’ve got a knack of keeping things tight on the road, conceding just 7 away from Sincil Bank in 9 League Two games.
Furthermore, although I’ve not heard much discussion of them when talking about the dangerous sides in the division, they’re level on points with Tranmere and Exeter. What perhaps separates them from the aforementioned two sides though is a lack of a real goalscorer. Norwood and Stockley (22 League goals between them before December) both have the ability to win a game at this level by snatching any half-chance. With Stevenage I don’t really see that, none of their players have managed more than 3 in the League so far.
Our Checkatrade fixture against Accrington is unlikely to live long in the memory for many; however, it is significant as the game where we hit 50 goals scored in all competitions. This figure has come in 27 games meaning we’re scoring at a rate of 1.9 a game or a goal every 52.7 minutes. These 50 have come from a wide range of players with Jamie McCombe becoming the 17th Imp to notch this season.
Chief amongst our goalscorers are Akinde (7), Green (6), and Anderson (4). Following them, we have 7 players who have all bagged 3: O’Connor, Shackell, Pett, Frecklington, Rhead, Andrade, and McCartan. However, it isn’t all about sticking them in the net and our prolific assisters also deserve praise. Bruno Andrade is way out in front on this measure with 9 already with Anderson and Toffolo on 5 each. The attacking influence of Andrade and Toffolo is clear to see when looking at assist locations. 18 of our assists in the opposition half have come from left of the 6-yard box with just 7 from the right.
However, the right-hand side seems to have been in better defensive form. Our opponents have managed just 2 assists in our half from left of the 6-yard. The score for their attacking right is 9. Another assist location worth mentioning is in the centre of the opposition box. Lincoln players have accumulated 11 assists already from the middle of our opponents’ box. To me, this further supports a point I’ve made before about our players being discouraged from shooting if a better chance can be generated with a pass. This is reflected by the fact that, despite scoring 20 more goals than our opponents, we’ve had fewer shots.
A running theme with the Cowleys’ Lincoln City sides is their strong second half performances. This has proved true again this campaign with the Imps scoring 56% of their goals after the break. Once again, we’re a real threat in the closing stages too with 15 goals (30% of the total) coming after 75 minutes.
Despite our reputation for robust play, we’ve committed fewer fouls than our opponents this campaign (338 compared to 355). What’s even more striking is the gulf in yellow cards. Our opponents have clocked up 66 (2.4 a game) compared to our 38 (1.4 a game). However, I won’t pretend the Imps are angels. By my records, we’ve already picked up 6 bookings for dissent.
Saturday’s referee Martin Coy refereed our Checkatrade tie with Scunthorpe and sent off James Wilson for 2 bookings. Wilson has also picked up 2 other yellow cards meaning that he’s averaging one every 3 appearances, not a great record.