Business end, squeaky bum time, the period all fans should enjoy; call it what you will, we’re well and truly into it right now.
In an incredible display of hindsight, Danny’s Friday night match has handed a major advantage back to the Imps, not just in the hunt for a place in League One but also in the race for the League Two title.
The midweek fixture between Bury and Cheltenham certainly helped, one struggling team at home is a different prospect to another away. When the Shakers missed the chance to go top, albeit temporarily, they missed the opportunity to score a major psychological advantage. Last night, we didn’t miss our chance to do the same.
The gap between us and Bury is now five points, with a further three the difference between us and Mansfield. We know, whatever happens between now and 10pm Tuesday, we’ll still be top at that point in time. Of course, results could swing our way today but it would be hard for them to go against us because we kept our end of the title bargain up. What Bury do at Stevenage, or what MK and Mansfield do is irrelevant to a degree.
Won’t stop us watching on though, hoping for more to cheer about.
There’s been a lot of call for Rhead to start alongside John and that was the case last night. I guess after such a richly deserved win over Forest Green, Danny found it hard to change the first XI. I can understand it, especially when he warned of changes to the side ahead of the match. Is there anyone in football who reveals so little to the press and gets away with it? He misdirects over team selection, dodges injury news and yet somehow still hold an interesting press conference.
His surprise for Darren Way’s side was two big men up top and an element of direct football. Before anyone says it didn’t work, which on the face of it it didn’t, you have to consider the wider picture. In recent weeks at home we’ve tried the neater approach in the final third and got nowhere. Last night, the game plan looked very much to me like ‘batter them for an hour’ with the big lumps then try the original plan against tired legs.
In fairness, Yeovil looked ropey at the back at times, but their right back certainly had the measure of Bruno and I think that makes the long ball approach seem more obvious. They were prepared to stifle us out wide and frustrate us all over the pitch, although they also had Rheady wrapped up too. I heard a comment on the radio coming home saying he won almost all of his headers last night, I assume the caller thought he was the chap in green and white, not red and white.
That’s not a criticism, but it’s proof Yeovil played well without playing well. They kept a shape, they frustrated us and did what they had to do without the ball. It wasn’t always pretty, neither was our approach, that’s a bi-product of having John and Rheady up top. The referee had a sound grip on the game though, but how embarrassing is it when you’re booked for time-wasting three minutes into the second half? I understand game management, but their 150 odd fans have driven what, 600 miles all in? Just to be treated to that.
What I mean by them playing well but not playing well, is when they had the ball they didn’t truly have a clue how to break us down. Occasionally they strung a few nice passes together and there was a spell in the first half where I thought maybe, just maybe we might be in trouble. When your armour is as solid as ours across the back, it’s a fallacy to believe that though. Yeovil can pass sideways as much as they want, just like FGR did, but when it came to penetration they had little.
I did like their number seven, Rhys Browne. I thought he delivered some telling balls, as well as having our wide threat weighed up nicely. Sadly, the rest of his side weren’t quite up to the challenge.
Losing Shacks was a big blow, but as soon as Bolger strode on to take his place you knew it wasn’t going to affect us too much. Danny called Bolger a ‘top League One defender’ after the game and you know what? He’s right. Bozzy is the same and together they didn’t look like being breached.
Harsh truth moment: we should have gone in 2-0 up at the break. It’s hard to be too harsh on Harry after what he did later, but he had too much time to think when he went one on one with the keeper. Most FIFA players would have been desperately crying out for a succinct lob over their keeper as he broke away, but instead he fluffed his lines. It’s easy in the stands to be critical and it showed awareness from Harry to get the ball away from the defenders in the first instance, but it was crying out for a better finish.
Then, maybe, John could have had one or two. One drive into the box looked even more lumbering and languid than usual and his tame shot was saved, before a wicked Neal Eardley ball evaded everyone and took the big man by surprise at the back stick. All it needed was a touch, off his arse, ankle, nose, whatever. The key was getting into those positions, although trying to tell my Dad that is fruitless. As far as he was concerned, we weren’t playing well.
It didn’t look like we were, but under the conditions we were doing okay. Yeovil without the ball looked alright and Lincoln with the ball looked pressured. I don’t buy the fact 9,000 home fans is a disadvantage or that we’re the reason the players look nervous. I think it’s the situation, the desperate need to break resilient teams down when they come to do nothing but defend.
When the half time whistle went it did feel as though there was more to come, but quite where it would come from I couldn’t see. Rheady hadn’t been as effective as the weekend, John had subsequently not been on fire either. Bruno was taped up on one flank, Harry flagging a little on the other. I liked the combination of O’Hara and O’Connor, but it looked functional rather than productive. Mind you, I have to admit Michael O’Connor is quickly turning into one of the contenders for Player of the Season in my opinion, he’s been industrious and energetic whenever we’ve seen him.
Didn’t help after 45 minutes last night though with the scores poised at 0-0.
Next Page – the second half