After nearly a 400 mile round trip and a lot of liquid to keep the heat stroke at bay, the Imps remain no closer to the League two title than a week ago.
The trip to Carlisle was contentious and perhaps something that just gave us a little dose of reality once again. The unbeaten run goes, the momentum goes and we’re back to doing what we need to do; working hard.
The players won’t have got carried away, but I certainly did and I’m sure a few fans did too. It seemed as though we’d be securing the title in the warm sunshine on Friday, but instead we kept it alive for another couple of days at the very least.
Our visitors tomorrow are Tranmere Rovers, an organised and effective top ten side, lifted to the top five by virtue of a goal scoring machine. I think it’s fair to say there’s some very good teams in our division one or two aspects away from being top seven; Crewe for instance are brilliant at home and if they replicated that away, they’d be up with us. Forest Green have the goalscorer, but a lack of plan B, a failure to solidify and sometimes do things nasty has cost them.
Tranmere are, in my mind, very much like Crewe but with the added bonus of a striker who has bagged half their goals. they’re a good side, they approach the game the right way but can mix it up when needed. They’re resolute, one of the few teams to stop us scoring this season and up front they’ve got on hell of a striker, like him or loath him.
He’s been struggling of late though and could be a victim of a recent injury that kept him out of training all last week, seeing a return to action against Forest Green at the weekend in a game they lost 1-0. That’s one win in four for them now and they need something tomorrow to keep their slim automatic promotion hopes alive.
However, they may have to do without Norwood, as Mickey Mellon has told the official Tranmere site that his leading scorer may be out of action.
“He (James Norwood) had a scan on Tuesday that said he had a torn groin muscle and we just gave it time and sometimes these things happen that it’s not a major muscle or whatever but he came in and said he felt fine, he’s not trained all week, so you have to try to give the player the opportunity, he knows his body better than I do, what the physios do and he did 90 minutes so we’re pleased with that and we’ll see if there’s any fall-out from that.”
He’s not the only player missing tomorrow either, as the long season begins to take its toll on the Tranmere squad.
“Liam Ridehalgh is injured as well, he took a bit of a challenge, he took a knee injury, he’s been for a scan so we’ll see what the results are for that so at the minute they are just mounting up a bit but that’s what the squad is for, they’ll come in now and carry things forward and do the job for us.”
It promises to be a huge encounter in which a draw could be enough, if Mansfield fail to win their game. If the Stags beat Oldham at Boundary Park, then the Imps need to win.
According to stats site Kick Off, the likelihood of it either being 1-0 to us or 1-1 is 24%, both scores we’d happily take. Our home form hasn’t been incredible of late, we’ve certainly drawn more at home than we feel perhaps we should, but we’ve also lost once at home all season and that came as a result of having ten men.
It’s bound to be a tight game and the presence of Norwood will go some way to deciding the result. He is a predator, but has bagged almost 50% of their goals this season. Without him, there’s a question mark as to whether Connor Jennings is sufficient to lead a League Two forward line. Even with Norwood, we create more chances at home than they do on their travels, but the margins are narrow. They have to come and have a go tomorrow and if they do, it could lead to an open game of football.
It’s been a while since the two sides have met at Sincil Bank, my wrist certainly remembers the last time as I slipped celebrating Adam Marriott’s winner that day and broke it. I spent Christmas is a special glove and even started a new job with my deformed claw punching away at the computer keys.
In total the two sides have met 76 times, we’ve won 29, they’ve won 27 and the draw has been shared on 20 occasions. The last time they got anything from a game at Sincil Bank was in December 1977, when they grabbed a 1-1 draw. Their last win at the Bank was in 1964, when Ken Fencott’s goal wasn’t enough to stop them winning 2-1 in front of 5,500 at the Bank.