Football is a cruel, cruel mistress: Accrington Stanley 4-3 Imps

Courtesy Graham Burrell

At just gone five last night, I felt numb. I felt sick to my stomach, enduring that gut-punch feeling of agony that perhaps we became immune too at one time.

Between 2008 and 2015 it became commonplace, almost expected. 5 pm on a Saturday? Lincoln had probably lost. That’s not me being harsh, it was just fact. Losing leads wasn’t unusual either; 3-0 up at Forest Green to draw 3-3 sticks in my mind, a game which cost Gary Simpson his job. We’ve done it time and again though, lost big leads. I saw yesterday’s game mentioned in the same breath as the day we lost to Barnet 4-3 having been 3-0 up after 25 minutes.

I don’t see it quite that way. I can’t gloss everything up from defeat at Stanley, but I can see positives in the result. Before you all start laughing, yes it’s one point from 18, that isn’t a good run. Positives are all well and good but football is about winning matches, I know that too, enough people have mentioned it in passing on social media recently. There is a difference though between going 3-0 up and losing over the next 70 minutes and bouncing back three from goals conceded twice away from home.

We’re on a bad run and at times I’ve felt like it was never going to end (Portsmouth and Southend two obvious examples). That’s where yesterday differs for me; I didn’t actually think we’d get beat until their goal went in and, even after they snatched the lead for the first time, I felt we had a goal in us. That is a progression of sorts, is it not?

Far too much happened yesterday to pick through everything, but for me the afternoon always starts at 2 pm, wondering what changes MA might make. Perhaps yesterday he made a couple that were popular, without a doubt I expect him to do the same for the Gillingham game. We saw Anthony Scully come in for Joe Morrell and Tom Hopper come in for Tyreece John-Jules, who was injured. It might sound harsh, but TJJ’s injury came just at the right time for him and the rest of the team; he’s looked low on confidence and needed a bit of time out of the limelight.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I did want to comment on Max Melbourne too, a player who missed yesterday through injury and was at West Brom rather than Accrington. I’m not going to hammer him for that, just like I didn’t go in for James Maddison when he went to a casino despite being injured for England duty. Max is a young lad who perhaps needed a break as well after a poor run of form. I don’t see a problem with him having the day off and doing whatever it is he wants to do, especially not if it means we get Blackpool Melbourne back next week.

The first half was pretty average. Just like the MK Dons game much of the football happened in the middle of the field and rarely troubled the 18-yard area. I did feel we had more rhythm to our play though, probably from Anthony Scully. I’m going to have to stand corrected; I didn’t think it was time to expose him to a start but I think he’s made a good fist of proving me wrong. He’s got ‘class’ stamped all over him and when the deadlock finally got broken in horrible conditions, it’s not surprising it was him.

What I really liked about his goal was how instinctive it was. He’s got his back to goal but, instead of looking for a pass which I feel many of our other strikers would have done, he’s turned and scored. Have we honestly owned that ‘fox in the box’ at all during the last few years? Even during the three years of success, we didn’t have a centre forward who was instinctive; Rheady was different, perhaps Liam Hearn was the last of that ilk we actually owned.

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I’d called us to win this game and although we didn’t, I did see the sort of improvement I expected. Tom Hopper, whilst not brilliant again, did more than he has in recent weeks and I felt Jorge Grant just hit those same levels as he always does. We weren’t scintillating going forward, the conditions put paid to that, but I think if the weather had been agreeable we’d be talking about a strong attacking performance all afternoon. Sadly, attack is not the only part of football and the other bit, ‘defending’ is something we’re horrible at.

Six minutes we led. Six minutes of me truly believing we could go on and win the game 3-0. Honestly, I felt that positive about the side, I truly believed this was the game in which we put relegation fears a little further out of our mind. Six minutes later, those fears knocked on the door asking to be let back in. Tayo Edun, another who didn’t do badly, was taken out of the game by a simple pass, Jorge Grant and Harry Anderson couldn’t stop the cross and inexplicably Jason Shackell turned past his own keeper. I thought Josh Vickers was a bit to blame as well, there seemed to be a huge miscommunication and the outcome was the leveller. Lincoln 1-1 Lincoln is how it feels; we’re beating ourselves every week, other teams are not needing to do it for us.

Flip to a positive, I felt we showed good character to come back into the game. The rest of the half was end to end: Josh pulled of a save or two, whilst at the other end Anthony Scully looked close to adding a second. When the whistle went for the half to end I still felt we’d take something from the game. We were offering a decent threat and although we’d gifted a goal we weren’t making the same errors as most weeks. No, I felt I’d be rolling into Saturday evening with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. It’s the hope that kills you.

Courtesy Graham Burrell


  1. “One point from 18, that isn’t a good run.” You can say that again Gary! I listened to the match on Radio Lincs. We were 2-1 up after 58 minutes of play. It couldn’t last. Hardly anytime later we were 3-3. I knew then what was coming. As we have so often done, we’d give away a very late soft goal and lose. And we did. MA’s tried various player permutations yet our defence is still prone to daft, incompetent misakes and our forwards’ wayward shooting continues to give kids outside the ground the chance of a free matchball.Thank God we had a great start to the season! Nonetheless, I shall still be there on the 24th to renew my season ticket.In MA We Trust! We ain’t got an option.

  2. One point from six games. No single cleansheet. Different team fielded every game. Accrington,MK and even relegated Southend who put team together five minutes before the kick off are all to strong for us. Season tickets renewal period coming at a great time… Win against unbeaten this year Gillingham would be a massive lift for everyone but….
    But as it stands in Tranmere we trust….

      • Were I Mickey Mellon I would be setting my team a target of 18 points from 42, which is probably unachievable with their run-in, but they can almost guarantee 20% of that target from our visit alone.
        However, I do agree they remain our best, and perhaps only hope.

  3. Michael Appleton – with the solitary exclusion of Oxford United, way, way back in an undistinguished managerial career – may actually be at the height of his powers with a win rate as follows:
    Managerial Career
    Team W D L WIN%
    Lincoln City 8 5 14 29.6
    Oxford Utd 77 47 49 44.5
    Blackburn 4 6 6 25
    Blackpool 2 8 2 16.7
    Portsmouth 13 11 27 25.5
    West Brom* 0 1 0 0
    TOTAL 104 78 98 37.1

    Were the team’s form better then perhaps I could understand your optimism. Only Tranmere have worse current form than City’s, which surely IS cause for concern.
    When one considers the comments MA made yesterday – can anyone recall the Cowleys publically criticising the squad, or directing their frustration at a specific group? – his treatment of Frecks, Payne, Pett and McCombe, is there any wonder that he seems to have lost the dressing room?
    How long are you prepared to continue to write platitudes to a manager with such an undistinguished record who seems not to know his best team and who is playing Russian roulette with the future of our club?
    I’m disappointed with what he has achieved in his time here and see yesterday’s defeat as an even bigger blow to morale than the 0-6 thrashing by Oxford.
    It’s not just a question of form, it’s a matter of a demoralised squad which has happened entirely on his watch. He needs to go, now!

    • I wouldn’t go that far. He needs to get more time to sort things out. Not a fan of changing managers after few bad games….
      Agreed with two things though. His arrogant comments, moves and treatment of certain players means it can’t be a happy camp at the moment. 15 points gap is big but If he carries on like that he will lose dressing room and if tranmere will find a good run then…
      Two. He did good job at Oxford by getting them promoted and developing few young players. But that was league two not league one… and apart from that he never achieved anything. Not sure if he is the man to take us forward but I still hope he could be…
      God we need a win ….

          • MA took Oxford to a Wembley final and 2nd in League Two. The following season they finished 8th in League One and made another Wembley final. For me, that’s success outside L2.

          • Past glories have no bearing on the present, and how long ago was that? And what has he achieved in the interim? Nothing!
            But if you think the teams record since his arrival, particularly since Christmas, is something worth clinging to, then how come Southend have earned more points – even allowing for the 3 we gifted them and spaffing the money we got for last year’s top scorer on a player they knew was finished in this league?
            The stats are there for all, including you, to see. Our current top scorer is out of form and you are advocating a line-up of untried, and returning from injury players to stick their thumbs in the equivalent of the overflowing river Taff!
            Tell us where the next point or goal is coming from? MA doesn’t know, nor does the chairman, who if he has any sense will be on the phone pursuing options other than an Akinde hat trick on Tuesday!

          • Have a look. It shows how the Imps are one place above Tranmere – on goal difference only – at the very bottom of the form table.
            I’m betting Scully and Nates have a spreadsheet on this, and one for candidates for potential manager replacements.

    • Sums it up entirely, my only concern would be, would you risk a new man in for 11 games and still achieve safety?

      • It’s a good point. Has anyone else noticed how the results downturn dates from the club sacking Jamie McCombe? And how much did Matt Gilks want to stay?

  4. Did sir A Ferguson get this kind of comments all those years ago. And if you don’t feel 3 goals in one game is a progression. !! Had some injuries of decent players to deal with. Good to see Lewis, get on and score. Thought before the game a 1-1 draw so disappointed we could not get over the line especially after a penalty save, but, that’s Lincoln. Maybe got 3 goals at Torquay and lost 4-3, probably 30 years ago plus that was hugely disappointing, this does not feel the same.

    • MA is now Sir Alex Ferguson and Lincoln Manchester United? ??
      I’d be happy if he were Darren Ferguson and we were doing half as well as Peterborough Utd.
      If we lose to Evans on Tuesday we are the worst form team in the EFL!
      Can anyone see us getting a point at Tranmere? Or Bolton?
      If Appleton stays our final game at home to Rochdale will be a cup final!

  5. I think he’s asking his centre backs and gk to play in a way they can’t handle, which leads to the full backs constantly receiving the ball under pressure and us giving up far too many easy opportunities. I’m all for change towards his style, but he’s trying to get there to quickly in my view.

    It seems to me that MA is saying that it’s not ‘his’ players that are at fault, but rather the seniors he inherited. That seems like a poor assessment to me, we can’t win the ball up the pitch because we’re too weak and keep giving it away due to wrong players for the tactics. I hope I’m wrong, because if that’s what he really thinks I don’t think it’s a good mentality to have in terms of managing this squad towards improvement through the rest of the season.

  6. All getting a little too toxic for my liking. Lincoln are in league one, and in transition. A calculated gamble, and a new business model for the club at this level was needed, and this is what it takes. The long game, and the manager needs time. Some perspective is needed. Club needs support and fans now more than ever, not vitriol and whinging.

    • Spot on Jimmy , we all need to get behind the team and the manager, we are in transition no doubt about that . Many young players learning and they will get better, had we continued with the early season business model then we may have become another Bury . Danny never did consolidation so I am not quite sure whether our league position would have been any different under him as he would have to work within financial constraints if he could.
      Whilst we need a win or two , we all need to look where we are, compared to where we were , we need to support the club and the team and give them every encouragement.
      The only thing I do not agree with is publicly hanging people out to dry in interviews but we are not party to internal conversations in the dressing room both before, after and during matches.

      MA ‘s hands were tied do we let players go for nothing at the end of the season or cash in on them now only JA had another year left on his contract. Cowleys plus player sales has probably brought in about £1.7 m and we have spent a fraction of this with money in reserve for the summer.

      This season has been like a book of many chapters and I think there are another couple to go yet but I do think we will all get a happy ending – Consolidation and safety.

      Last but not least I echo all of your sentiments and feelings Gary – good report.

      • £1.7million? Where’s that figure from. The Cowleys got 300k of the million and we got nothing like a million for selling the family silver!
        Maybe when MA gets behind the team you can demand the same of supporters who, like me, have almost 60 years supporting this club through thick and thin. The buck stops with the manager and see what Blackpool did, both recently and when they realised they’d made a huge mistake with MA.

  7. Just forgot to mention in my above comment We need to learn on pitch GAME MANAGEMENT which only comes with experience and age.
    Plus I would have kept Micky O’Connor no matter what, that man had game management in abundance.
    It was worth keeping him for what we probably received for him.

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