Oh dear, oh dear: Southend 2-1 Imps

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

At this point, let us not take anything away from Southend, to do so would be hugely disrespectful. They’ve been battered and bruised this season, yet they still get decent crowds and their players played with a carefree, gung-ho approach which I’m sure those fans appreciated. Their young guns ran, worked hard and in the second half, were by far the better side. For us to be bemoaning how bad we are is all well and good, but we shouldn’t be disrespecting a proud and valiant home side that more than made up the gap in quality with good old fashioned endeavour, desire and application. I sincerely hope that some of our players, young and old, took a good lesson from their opponents yesterday. The fact is Southend will likely be playing League Two football last year, but looking at some of their youth yesterday, they’ve got the basis of a decent side in the future.

They’ve also got a manager who has earned my respect over the last year or so. He did wonders with Macclesfield and considering this side that hasn’t won at home all season are unbeaten in four at Roots Hall, he’s doing the same for them. Fair play and I wish them all the best for the rest of the season.

That doesn’t mask the fact we should have been better. The second half, for 35 minutes, was worse than the first. we huffed and puffed, tried to switch things around but were utterly outbattled by the hosts. When they scored it was hardly a surprise, was it? A decent effort hits the bar and a proper poacher, Charlie Kelman, was on hand to stab home. If that ball drops in their six-yard area, as one did in the second period, would our forwards have been on hand to stab home? A Southend fan who commented on the blog last week said Hopper was a poacher from that distance, so let us hope his tough start is soon put behind him.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

After their goal, I hoped to see us fight to get back into the game, but that didn’t happen. Instead, they looked like adding a second. After scoring their confidence went up and they knew they had the game in the palm of their hand. Then, MA changed it and brought on Jack Payne.

Jack Payne, the player told he was free to leave in the summer. The player the same Southend fan said wouldn’t make an impression for us. The forgotten man. However, he’s a player with experience, someone who has been around and performed at a higher level. Yup, Jack Payne came on against his old club and changed the game, for a bit. Suddenly, we had a conduit and a creator and although the rest of the side looked laboured and heavy-footed, he wanted to impress. If training hard got him back in the squad, his performance might have just ensured he stays there on Friday.

I am going to move straight to our goal because frankly, what else in the turgid second-half display would I want to focus on. We got a corner (woop) and actually scored from it. 1-1, we were back in the game. Harry Anderson, now the leading scorer in the squad, would have been delighted to make a mark. He’s a player I hope to see make a big impression on the side in the coming weeks and he got us back in the game.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

Now, you’d expect at 1-1 for the youngsters in the home side to wilt, for the side who expected to do well to press on and add another. Our club Twitter account suggested the seven minutes of injury time might bring us a goal and briefly (really briefly) I felt the same. Instead, we conceded late on, just like we have so many times this season.

Why is that? A lack of character? A lack of confidence in our ability to defend a point or a lead? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you this; a point isn’t all we can’t defend. Set pieces are like kryptonite to us. Other teams know it as well, how many of them are whipping corners into the six-yard area, right under Josh Vickers? Bolton did it, Portsmouth did it, everyone is doing it. If we whip one into the six-yard area, a defender at the front post deals with it, no bother. If we defend the same set-piece, we go to pot. It was an awful goal to concede, with Vickers at fault in my eyes. There’s no point in singling him out though is there, he was on a side of players all of whom had made mistakes and played badly, why would he be any different.

That’s it, that is all I have to say on the game. It was bad, really bad. It was the worst performance of the season, much worse than Portsmouth at home and even worse than Gillingham away. It lacked character and it lacked belief.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

However, I want to end on a positive note. Firstly, Friday can surely not get any worse (unless you remember the last time Rotherham came to Sincil Bank for a league night match…). Secondly, there’s still a good gap between us and the bottom three. We can put all this talk in the media (and a bit on here) about looking up the table to bed. We know where we are, in transition. We must not write off players who have played six, three or one games for us. As fans, it is our duty to support the team, not to start calling players rubbish because they’ve taken time to settle. We’re not six points adrift right now and the aim, as it always has been, is to survive. Some performances have hinted at better, others have hinted at far worse. But if you think we’re showing relegation form, contrast that with the promotion form we showed before the Sunderland loss. If you think these last two games are worrying, look at how positive beating Peterborough and Ipswich was.

No one game, or even short run, is going to tell you much about this team. The big story will be after 44 matches, that is how we will be defined. I’ve always said the ‘form guide’ is rubbish, although I do refer to it when we are flying in it to contrast those who like to roll it out when we’re not. This was a bad game, at the end of a bad week. We’ve yet to see the full impact of the transfer window, good or bad, because only time can reveal that. Going on social media and saying things like ‘this is Appleton’s team now and it isn’t good enough’, is ridiculous when one signing has yet to be revealed and another hasn’t even played.

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

All I’ll say is the improvement in the team in late November came about through work on the training ground and I feel we always had to take a step backwards to move forward, especially with such a high turnover of players. Did I expect us to have the second-highest turnover of players this transfer window? No. Now it has happened, do I think we’ll transition smoothly and efficiently? No.

Do I think it is the best thing for long-term planning at the club? Yes. It remains to be seen if the players are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ signings, but to judge them on one or two games is madness.

Even if they were utterly abject yesterday.

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  1. Listened to BBC Lincs commentary. Against one of the weakest sides in the league, we played poorly, let them get the first goal, failed to produce a single shot on target ourselves until Anderson late header and to cap it off did our usual trick – let in a late goal through incompetent defending. We’re getting new player after player and it seems to be making little difference to match performance and results. (Thank God we still got Joe Morrell!) So what is amiss? Confidence? Attitude and commitment? Ability? Lack of a good game plan? Something’s got to happen soon to get out of this rut.

    • This rut , lost narrowly to well organised promotion chasing ipswich comfortably beaten by pompey ill admit but even the loss yesterday doesn’t make it a rut when u consider weve just swapped half the squad and lost some very experienced players at this level these young chaps are going to take time to bed in but this is a calculated move being as if u look at the table chances are we’re very close to being safe already and attention is turning to next season

  2. One thing that really worries me is playing budget manager has, a reason why thinking back to an interview with previous managers last season when ambition was mentioned, left. We were told that this seasons budget, by Mr Nates was same as season we came into the league, and Liam stated yesterday playing budget for next season will resume nearly the same. I know we cant keep growing losses, but it wasnt a good enough budget to get out of league 2 with ambitious managers so worries meeven with a good manager developing youth how the budget will get us out of this division.

    • correct David,
      the word consolidate was used & DC said consolidate .?.. I don’t do that, it crossed my mind that he was going then.
      we caved in when top of this league in 1982 in similar fashion
      we’ve had a great 3 years & we should be ok.
      Up the Imps

  3. Looks like January transfer window killed us. We are lot worse after than before it. Wonder what that is gonna cost us this season. No strikers ,no wingers,no left back, no fight,no passion. Well done mr. Tilson. Oh sorry mr. Alpleton…

    • Judging from the nonsense contained within your post, I’m guessing the reason you can’t spell Appleton correctly is you’re an idiot?

      • I spelt it wrong, you are right. I won’t be able to sleep now because of that haha.
        Am I an Idiot ? Yes I think so. After all I bought season ticket. Now I’m being treated with atroucious transfers and with over three months of low quality product…

        • Eh? Which 3 months? The last 3 months in which we won 5 out of 6 home games whilst scoring lots of goals, or the coming 3 months which haven’t happened yet and therefore you can’t possibly know what’s going to happen? As for atrocious transfers…they’ve hardly played yet. In case you weren’t aware, the club did exist pre Danny Cowley and is currently in the highest place it’s been for several decades. If this still ain’t good enough I suggest you find something else to do on Saturdays. You could try spouting absolute bullshit on websites as you appear to be pretty proficient in that. ?

          • No I mean the next three months… Low quality players like elbouzedi (guy is a joke..), hopper (magic first touch lol) etc means low quality product till the end of this season.. Looks like it doesn’t matter that the fans paid for that… We are lot worse side than before January. But we are young and hungry apparently now eh? I miss Danny Cowley again…… Oh and thanks for your advices. Means a lot to me lol ?

        • Tricky though with spelling, given computers are full of spell checkers it hints at a lack of research. Perhaps this carries into football? But also ” low quality product” speaks volumes.

          There is a significant part of me that thinks you may be a troll as literally nothing you have to say is positive. Or you have a big personal issue with MA

  4. Liam Scully said yesterday that we’re not complacent but the ridiculous change around of players during the window suggests we think we are safe which in my view is not the case.
    It seems ludicrous to throw money at getting up to a level we’ve not graced for 21 years then to allow half the team to leave at a time when the manager appeared to have got some momentum into the team.
    I hope we can cobble enough points together at home to stay out of trouble but as I write this I’m distinctly worried.

    • Lets all calm down a tad. We’re not going to get promotion this year and we’re not going down.

      We are now building for next season. A club like ours, unfortunately, has to sell players to continue on.

      Bruno and Toff I’m pretty sure will have brought in some good money, Big John will have reduced the wage bill significantly, Michael O’Conner was out of contract end of the season and Tyler didn’t belong to us and reading between the lines wanted to be part of the Forest push for promotion. All of these we had little choice in.

      Let’s just get behind the team and let the Big Apple do his job with our full support. This is our first season back in a league which over history isn’t our regular home. I, for one, will be renewing my season ticket and am still proud to be an imp.

  5. 10 in 8 out mid season! And no time to train or gel ( physio 2 day recovery mandatory after a match) with two games a week, I feel there is no time for a team such as ours to recover and progress. It feels at the moment that the previous great football that we recently enjoyed from a team with the heart of Lincolnshire in their souls has been set aside for the balance sheet. This transfer window has shown that players/managers/execs have missed out on what makes Lincoln City great. Loyalty, comradeship, belonging and a common purpose. Season ticket holders will be disapointed to be left with a 2nd half season of wondering if we will survive relegation rather than optimism for a stable future mid table with a hope of promotion long term.

  6. Most will be eating their words when Appleton gets us in the top 6 next season. Give him time!
    While I loved the Cowley’s and what they did for this club the football under the new manager is already better to watch.

  7. The point made about Bostwick cannot be understated. We need him back and in the team…. and quickly. A basic look at results says we have won 9 out of 16 games when he has played and only 3 out of 18 when he hasn’t.

  8. Gary, I’ve been waiting for your write-up today – looking for a bit of balance and a bit of hope. I was at the game yesterday – and in my mind I am not balanced or hopeful!
    I would like to compare this to a year ago – last season was the first full season that I took my son to games – home and away. We get to the games early, we watch the lads warming up, paying attention to all the drills, hang around after the game, meet the players, meet the staff, meet the coaches, meet the nutritionist, meet the bus driver….. The spirit and professionalism and attention to detail blew all the opposition out of the water in League 2 – and for that I am thankful to DC & NC. This year (even at the start of the season with DC and NC in place) the intensity has gone. Last season watching the intensity of the warm up games – Bossie at one end, Rheady at the other, sharpness of passes, vision – followed through into games. This season we are going through the motions, no intensity, no sharpness – no wonder we are giving the ball away in the middle.
    Yesterday was clearly more than lack of intensity in the warm-up, but I am holding out a lot of hope for Bridcutt, for Bossie to come back fit, for the team to have more time together in training. We need to pick up these next few wins quickly, because I don’t think amongst these youngsters we have the grit for a battle at the bottom of the table.

  9. I’m prepared to go along with those of you who write that we are a successful team-in-the-making and must be patient. Whatever, these poor results won’t dampen my support for the Imps. I’ve been supporting them since I came to Lincoln 20 years ago through some seasons when you could have your own block of seats attendance was so poor.! Agree we need Michael B back ASAP to steady the defence. Oh and Diana, put the necessary name spellings into your spellchecker so you don’t upset the boys.(PS It’s “atrocious”. See what I mean?)

  10. It seems as though the Club must now be reasonably confident we won’t go down and have rapidly switched around the playing staff for younger and, more importantly, cheaper options. Presumably they’re hoping the team will do just enough to keep us in L1 and can then build again in the close season. However, it’s a bit of a kick in teeth for the fans, who will no doubt be implored to ‘pack the Bank’ week in, week out to watch a side assembled to achieve the bare minimum

  11. Nice one. Just so I can put your comments in perspective. “Interesting” viewpoints. We are in a worse state than Southend, will be playing hoofball on Friday and you predicted the arrival of Anthony Scully. Wow

    • Weren’t you the guy who accused ME of “trolling”?
      That’s why I switched you off on Twitter.
      Results speak for themselves. Who had the most shots on Saturday? Who scored the most goals? Who won the points with a team of kids?
      By all means critique my points but please don’t waste your time putting words in my mouth as, in the words of a song I wrote over 20 years ago
      ‘Now I understand we’re supporters, and our joy depends on results, but if you’re such a know-all let’s see you play football whilst we shout crude insults, “You’re useless!”‘
      Having supported the Imps, through thick and thin, for 56 years, my concern is for the players, the team, and the club. How would you expect a loyal supporter to react to losing to a club who, but for Bolton’s point deduction, are bottom of the league, have the worst results, and who outplayed, outright and beat us with a goal from their fullback who had never before in his career scored with a header?
      Fan is an abbreviation of fanatic. I’m a supporter who has spent more time and money than you on LCFC. If you cannot see that leaving two players we own – one our top scorer – on the bench is ridiculous, particularly when it was them who offered the one spark of ignition in the dying embers of a damp squib of a game then I will forego the chance to further indulge your sneering, unrealistic discussion on a team and game that seems to rely on the same logic MA used to handicap our team from the referees first whistle. Or as my dad – a supporter since the old second division was minded to say “we’re better off at the top of the 4th division than the bottom of the third” which is where we are headed from what I can see.

  12. Thank you for your temperate response.

    I don’t do twitter. Just referred to three points that you yourself made, which struck me as a bit odd.

    You may have me confused with someone else for you to boldly declare that you have spent more than me on the Imps.

    I don’t mind a bit of flowery language to make a point or two, but you can undermine your good points by overstating others.

    Don’t worry, I won’t bother you again. A low blow to refer to the song. Apologies on that and all the best.

    • Well I apologise. I’ve been stalked by another Ben. But I am proud of the song and the 2000 young people who were involved in the project, some of whom I still hear from.
      I’m worried that the young players will wilt under the pressure of replacing Walker, Akinde, Andrade, and that the team will be dragged into a relegation battle against more experienced sides. And if Appleton goes under pressure, what then?
      Sorry about being defensive but your namesake was really a pain in the butt. Sorry for my mistake and please forgive my mistake?

      • At the end on Saturday couple of empty brain kids hurled a lot of abuse at Shackell. He dealt with it like the star that he is. We are not going anywhere by getting on the players’ backs. Where they at Carshallton?

    • I actually feel terrible now. Perhaps you’d be magnanimous enough to allow me to buy you a drink sometime at a home game? Sadly it won’t be the next home game – not just in case we win but due to prior commitments.
      Once again my profuse apologies and best regards.

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