You don’t always get what you deserve: Portsmouth 1-0 Imps

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

I’ve had to take extra time to consider what I write before I start today. I came away from last night’s encounter feeling positive and down at the same time, but later managed to indulge a few people who felt less than happy at what they’d seen. 

My anger was tempted out of me when I was accused of being a club stooge, ‘towing the club line’ and not seeing the negatives. That got my goat and it’s what has led me to take a while to think about my article this morning. Yes, I look for positives and I felt that there were plenty last night (as did a lot of people). Is everyone who felt we’d put on a decent show guilty of being a club stooge?

‘Wake me up when it’s over’ was my headline from Friday, was that the official line? No. In recent weeks I’ve had a player’s Dad contact me about some criticism I gave his son, politely and accepting that it will happen. Is that me being up the club’s jacksie? No. It riles me that when I offer a genuine opinion and someone thinks it’s clever to immediately make accusations, as if my opinion isn’t something that is valuable unless I’m picking fault.

As you can tell, I’ve taken it quite personally and perhaps I shouldn’t. I’m not a serial blocker on Twitter (not of our own fans anyway) but one or two of my Twitter followers are beginning to wear a little thin. I’ll accept things weren’t perfect last night, we lost and that speaks volumes, but there are some who have been waiting for this so they can start jumping all over it.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Anyway, I suppose I should move on to the game. I don’t really have the heart to if I’m being entirely honest because I do have positives to discuss and I know they’ll be shot down by a vocal minority. Whenever there are stats that show we’re heading in the right direction you get the ‘only one stat that counts’ argument. If you talk about good performances you get the argument ‘we still lost’, It’s all a little tiring at times and I know I vowed to stay off social media, but when it’s buzzing on your bedside table as you try to get some bedtime reading in, it’s hard to stay out of it.

There were a couple of big calls pre-match; John Akinde getting the nod up front and Callum Connolly coming in at the back. The vitriol towards Connolly pre-match was pretty disgusting from some, again something I’m not surprised at, but he was the obvious choice. As I said in my article on the defence, Aaron Lewis is the favourite of the fans to get a run of matches, but Connolly is clearly a centre half rather than a central midfielder. I suspect on last night’s showing Connolly will continue in that role until Bolger is back and rightly so; he wasn’t far off being my Man of the Match.

Big John is still struggling in my opinion though. I wasn’t a Big John basher last season but I suspect the higher level of defender is highlighting the bits of his game he’s not quite as strong at. I felt our build-up play was nice last night, I felt in places we could have scored a couple, but if we’re going 4-4-2 at this level, which we did, then you have to have a ‘2’ who are both lively, energetic and playing off each other. At times, John didn’t gamble and that led to us looking far more like a 4-4-1 with a static target man somewhere between midfield and attack. If we needed that, we’d go back in for Matt Rhead.

Spoiler: we don’t.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

The problem Michael Appleton has is he’s inherited someone else’s squad, a group of players picked with another approach in mind. Our previous manager would never have gone 4-4-2 at this level and whilst it worked to a degree last night (proving me wrong) we didn’t have the lively front pairing we need at this level. Look at Luton, they employed two up top last season and made a success of it because they had two strikers both looking to get amongst the goals. If we had Walker paired with another Walker, we would have won last night’s game.

I know, for all those looking for a moan, we didn’t have that and we didn’t win the game but this is the harsh fact; until January nothing can be done about it. Nada. Zilch.

I felt Danny’s squad was tailored well for Danny’s style of play, but a new manager needs different tools to impress his ideas on the team. That’s why I said one man’s strong squad is another man’s weak squad and I stand by that, 100%. I’m not simply changing my tune either; we were a striker short but playing a 4-2-3-1 we could get away with it. Playing a more attacking formation exposes the issues we have.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

What it is easy to forget is the step up in level as well. Last night we were playing away at a side with a budget six times our own and we created enough chances to win the game. I’d be worried if we didn’t create any chances, which was pretty much the state of play on Friday. I’d be worried if we were adrift at the bottom, or if we had the record we have now without the upheaval and changes we’ve endured. Right now, I’m not worried. I don’t think we’ll go up, not at all. I’m also wondering if 10th or 11th might be ambitious but I firmly believe finishing higher than 15th is within our grasp.

Look, me analysing last night’s match is probably a little academic because plenty of people watched on iFollow and have their opinions. For what it’s worth I thought Portsmouth were there for the taking and it’s a shame we weren’t more clinical. Callum Connolly, as well as he played, should have made it 1-0 in the first half; his header was poor when he had time to take it down and have a proper shot. Maybe it’s confidence, maybe not but at least we found space in the box to exploit.

10 Comments

  1. Gary, for what it’s worth, I thought we played well until the final third. Agree about Payne. Maybe play Bruno in the 10 role instead. He is one of our better strikers of the ball and we know he’s quick. Portsmouth were very disappointing.

  2. At six foot four Akinde should have defended their goal much better and apart from the first ten minutes he was a nowhere man.I think his days at Sincil Bank are numbered.Andrade was arguably MOM but could have laid on a perfect ball to Walker( who was screaming for it )instead of shooting straight at their goalie.

  3. i think lincoln played ok, as they did against Shrews. However i think we got exactly what we deserved in both games – if you dont score you cant win and if you concede from set pieces you won’t draw. I just can’t see how we dominated last night and the stats dont back that up either. I think bruno has purpose going forward and thats lacking else where apart from the full backs. Payne just needs to be told what not to do and where not to do it – apart from thats i think he is a great player for us.

    I think we are doing fine, just.

  4. Didn’t think Akinde had that bad a game. Perhaps if it was Walker getting on the end of that cross in the second half, it might have been 1-1. Pains me (no pun intended) to say it, but as part of a group that sponsor Payne, I think he was very lucky not to have been taken off last night. Think teams have found out that he’s got one good foot, and can’t use his right. He was running into cul-de-sacs last night. I can’t fault his desire to get on the ball, but was very frustrating to see time and again how often he lost possession. Connolly deserves great praise for his performance. We got a run of games against teams just around us in Bolton, Wimbledon and Gillingham, so let’s hope we can bang some goals in and get some form going.

  5. Can’t get too downhearted about last night. Once again we played well away from home and, once again, were desperately unlucky to come away with nothing. I’d be more worried about not being able to beat relatively poor sides like Bristol and Shrewsbury at home. Also our modest league table position is masked by the fact that other teams have 2 or three games in hand on us. Akinde was dreadful again last night. I think he looks completely out of his depth at this level. Roll on Bolton…..last home league game for a long, long while. Win together; lose together!

  6. No cause for alarm. Michael Appleton is having to work with what he’s got until the transfer window opens. And he’s doing a decent job. Sure, results aren’t going as well as we’d like, but we aren’t being outclassed by anyone in this league, giving a good account of ourselves. Survival is all any of us really wanted this season, and I have no doubt at all that we will. Next season will be different. UTI

  7. MA said that first thing he wants to do is to make us hard to beat.
    Well in my eyes there is not that much to do in this aspect as apart from Oxford game we were hard to beat all the time.
    Our problem is : if Walker doesn’t score we don’t score.
    Akinde as we know needs penalty to be able to score and there is no more strikers in the team….

    As much as I appreciate that we played well it won’t matter even one tiny bit in the end. Points will….
    Now, next two games are massive for us. If MA won’t take at least 4 points out of these then we can start worrying. …………..

  8. Please don’t lose heart Gary. For Imps supporters like myself, stranded across the sea and unable to go to most matches, your reportage is as nearest we’ve got to an objective assessment. Otherwise it’s a question of reading what the local press on both sides of the equation, say and trying to work out a kind of middle ground. I know what it’s like to be in your position – Willie Bell had me sacked from writing a column in the match-day programme because I “was undermining the morale of the younger players.” Under him the Imps were a very poor outfit and no matter how optimistic you tried to be, inevitably you were writing about failure. We’re far from that now, but we are struggling a bit and although nobody expects you to be dispassionate, I for one really appreciate the insights you’re able to provide. Soldier on, Sir.

  9. Agree with you, Michael. Living as I do in NZ I really appreciate Gary’s dispassionate analysis of games and players’ form.

  10. Chin up Gary, don’t let the negative bu—ers get you down. If you and dad in the fan zone before the Bolton game I’ll get you both a drink.

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