I saw a graphic today showing the number of aerial duels won by players in League One. Unsurprisingly, there was a heavy link with the Imps in the top six.
Oliver Hawkins, a player we were once linked with, was right up there, as was Luke Waterfall. He’s at Shrewsbury now and although they’re in dire straights, he’s certainly doing what he does best.
Another player who featured high up the list was Matthew Pearson, also known as ‘Matty’ during his younger years. He’s formed a terrifyingly good centre back pairing with Sonny Bradley at Luton Town as they hunt a place in the Championship. He’s also a former Imp.
Often when the Imps sign a player on a youth loan, they’re rarely heard of again outside the lower divisions. we’ve taken lots of young players from other clubs over the years, the likes of Jordan Cranston, Charlee Adams, George Maris and Matthew Pearson.
Few will remember him, even fewer will have seen him in action. Finding a mention of him in the club programmes is futile because the only games he played in were against Carshalton Athletic. His arrival wasn’t announced in the programme for the York game and all coverage of the carnage at Carshalton was erased, with no match photos or mention in the subsequent programmes.
To all intent and purposes, Matty Pearson may as well never have represented the Imps.
He arrived on January 5th, 2012 on a three-month youth loan from Blackburn Rovers. Much like Scott Wharton, he was a highly-rated young player whom it was expected would get plenty of game time with the Imps. Like Scott Wharton, he also suffered due to the arrival of another player.
We signed Rob Williams on loan from Telford the week before (that’s how low we sank) and he took his place in the centre of defence alongside Josh Gowling. Pearson was on the bench for the 2-0 reverse at home to York, but dropped into the side for the Carshalton home match.
That game ended 0-0, certainly no disgrace for the young defender who played the full ninety minutes and kept a clean sheet. He was started again the week after as we went to their place for the replay. The less said about that the better.
He was then an unused sub as we drew 3-3 with Gateshead, beat Southport 2-0 at the Bank and lost 1-0 at Kettering. Blackburn had enough, they recalled the lad early through a lack of game time. His Imps career stood at two FA trophy matches, one of which could be considered one of our lowest points.
In total fewer than 2,000 Lincoln City fans saw Pearson in the red and white and that could have been that for his career. Instead, Blackburn continued to develop him and at the beginning of the following season he joined Rochdale on loan. After 13 outings for the League Two side, he wound up at FC Halifax, firstly on loan but later permanently. Blackburn hadn’t seen enough development in the youngster and he was cast down with the part timers in the National League North.
He was a huge success with Halifax, helping them to promotion in his first season. In his second campaign with them he was part of the side that hammered us 5-1 on Boxing Day 2013, then the side that beat us 3-2 the following season. His confident, commanding displays alerted a host of clubs, including Accrington Stanley, for whom he appeared over 100 times.
He moved to Barnsley as we emerged from the National League, switching to Luton in the summer. He’s now one of the strongest centre backs outside the top two divisions, but for Imps fans he’ll always be linked with the worst result many fans can remember. Shame, if only we’d given him a bit more game time, maybe it would have been us reaping the rewards of his fulfilled promise.