The Imps moved into second in the table as another challenging test was passed at Sincil Bank.
We keep hearing that good teams when they don’t play well, and at the moment that seems to be the order of the day at City. For sixty minutes or so, City weren’t second best, but they certainly weren’t in good form. A Jorge Grant stunner and Tom Hopper’s predatory strike were enough to see us jump to second in the table.
If we’re not ruthless enough, if we’re not at our best and if we do have key players missing, imagine what we might be able to achieve, seeing as we’re second in League One right now. That sort of perspective is important.
Still, each game of 90 minutes is judged on its own merits and the truth was, for at least 45 minutes, those merits were not obvious to anyone watching on iFollow.
As expected, the Imps made five changes from the team which lost at Plymouth, although one of those was no captain Liam Bridcutt. He missed out after picking up a strain in training, meaning James Jones, Conor McGrandles and Jorge Grant made up the midfield three. Tayo Edun, who had a strong game against Plymouth, dropped to full back with Robbie Gotts keeping his place. Lewis Montsma and Adam Jackson returned to the side, whilst Tom Hopper came in up top for Theo Archibald.
In a tepid first half, the Imps seemed to struggle to get out of first gear, but dominated large chunks of the play. The first effort fell to the Imps, a Jorge Grant corner found Conor McGrandles who scuffed an easy shot at the keeper. The lack of attacking intent was underlined byt the next chance not coming for 11 minutes, despite Wigan looking to be there for the taking. McGrandles was involved again, he found Johnson out wide, but a heavy touch took him further away from goal than he would have liked. He did get a shot on target, although not one to challenge the keeper.
It took half an hour for Wigan to get going, but when they did they had the best chance of the first half hour. A deep ball saw Montsma slip, allowing for a knockdown for Curtis Tilt to drive at goal, but luckily his shot was deflected wide for a corner
It was the blue shirts who next pressed for a goal, a deep corner was flicked on at the near post, but the balls dropped for Chris Merrie on the edge of the area whose long-range drive went well over.
The ball just wouldn’t fall for City. A quick break by Johnson saw him cut inside, make up yards and look to lay a ball into the path of James Jones. Sadly, either Jones’ run was mistimed or the ball was poor and it rolled away harmlessly. For every bit of good play, the Imps saw it break down as they approached the 18-yard box. Adam Jackson made a surging run from deep, arrived on the edge of the box and no idea what to do next.
Sadly, for the Imps and Adam Jackson, he pulled up on 24 minutes with an injury and had to come off the Joe Walsh.
Finally, on 41 minutes, the Imps had a chance that looked like it might result in a goal. Tom Hopper outmuscled Curtis Tilt midway in the attacking half, which Johnson picked up. He made his customary surge to goal, turned the defender inside out, but stabbed the ball narrowly wide. It was certainly the best chance of the game for either side, but the score remained 0-0.
That seemed to fire the Imps as two minutes later Johnson spun on the ball in the centre circle and found Jones. He had just been caught in two minds and fumbled an effort seconds before, but he hooked a strong effort at goal which went agonisingly wide of the keeper’s left post.
Even after that, poor passes were the bane of our attacking intent. Grant spread a weak ball into a defender when we were in a good position, then moments later Jones spread a ball from right to left behind Gotts for a throw. At times, we looked nervy, as if maybe the pressure of expecting to do well was weighing on the player’s shoulders somewhat.