I’m having to get something out earlier than normal due to a busy day, but instead of doing it last night I wanted to let my thoughts settle and ferment.
I found myself being drawn into arguments with Peterborough fans last night about one key moment in the game that I knew would result in a clouded, one-sided article on the site. I’m not into that sort of thing; I try to be objective and fair to both parties. I know some fans of opposing teams don’t get that but, in the main, I do call things as neutrally as possible for someone with a Lincoln City tattoo and every home programme going back over half a century. (Bar Barnet in 2001, Liam Forrester….)
Anyway, yesterday. The team selection is always a good place to start and my eyebrows certainly got raised with two calls, one during the game and one before. The big shout as Ellis coming into the midfield. I wasn’t against this, I’m not one of those who have unnecessarily knocked him in recent weeks. I didn’t think he had a great game against Man Utd U21s, but I do see the talent he has. Giving him the nod instead of Callum Connolly spoke volumes, but I’m not sure what about; Michael Appleton’s faith in Ellis, or lack of faith in Callum.
Other than that things were pretty much as expected, Harry missed out once again which will have surely been upsetting for him against his old club. At the back it was a case of ‘as you were’ and considering how we kept Sunderland quiet, coupled with the lack of options, it’s not surprising.
I went into this game expecting us to get beat, that’s not being pessimistic, it’s fact. In Toney, Eisa and Maddison, Posh have the best trio of attacking players outside the Championship. They’re organised across the field with strength at the back, arguably the best keeper I’ve seen at Sincil Bank in the last ten years in Christy Pym and an overall air of a team that is going up. Unlike Sunderland last week, there’s far less pressure on the manager and the fans haven’t lost faith yet.
You wouldn’t know that though, would you? This was a game again a traditional rival, not a ‘local’ rival as such but certainly a team they like to dislike. We took good numbers and to hear the crowd was under 10,000 was a huge surprise. I confess before they took control of the game the words ‘hear’ and ‘home crowd’ weren’t three I’d had to join together. Maybe we’ve been spoilt with our home atmosphere but as yet, no League One club has seemed particularly vocal at home. I looking forward to going away and hearing a set of fans singing either before they score a goal, or after we get one.
That might seem like a sneaky little dig at Peterborough and there’s more to come, believe me. They didn’t play well at all in the first half and I felt perhaps we could easily have led. They weren’t Sunderland poor, but it wasn’t going the way of their forward three at all. I felt Michael Appleton got it spot on in terms of team selection; Ellis and Mickey combined beautifully in the centre of the park to give us the upper hand. In their 4-3-1-2 formation, our only hope would come down the flanks. If we got out wide, pulling them with us, then we might get chances in the gaps that opened up.
It wasn’t what you’d call a classic, not by any means. We did have the better of the first half, but we didn’t ‘outplay’ them as some are suggesting. We took them on when we looked to be in form and they did not. Whatever they did try didn’t really come off, down as much to the tenacity of that midfield two as anything.
We did get to play some of our little patterns and the best chance of an engrossing first half certainly well to Tyler Walker. The passage of play that took place before he popped up in the six-yard box was ‘classic’ Lincoln this season, nice passing and a great cross into the sort of area you know Walker will gamble on. He gambled, got a good effort away and Pym made a super reflex save. I believe Christy Pym has the attributes to go on and play top flight football, I felt that whenever I saw him at Exeter and again, he showed me the same potential yesterday.
That wasn’t to say Posh didn’t have their chances; Toney and Kent both went close, but their big players were not on their game. Mo Eisa was quiet but don’t be fooled into thinking he’s flopped; it was a bad afternoon for the former Greenwich striker. Marcus Maddison, a player I waxed lyrical about in the podcast, was also woefully short of his best. Toney looked to be a threat but was very much the only one of the three who I thought was anywhere near their potential.
For us, the usual suspects were putting on a show in addition to those in midfield. It wasn’t the sort of game our flair players had much time to be creative, but I thought Toffolo was, once again, excellent. The two at the back sat quite deep but that was sensible; Toney and Eisa would hurt us with pace if they got in behind and we didn’t allow that. Josh Vickers looked very decisive in his actions too and his distribution was quick, never giving the home side chance to settle from the restarts. Overall, it was a good game of football and one I felt we were due to get a draw from.
The only thing that could possibly change it, in my opinion, was if something broke up our rhythm. Three seconds into the second half, that moment came.
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