The results certainly went City’s way last night, with some fans returning to stadiums and not exactly impacting their team’s fortune.
AFC Wimbledon did turn Peterborough over at Plough Lane, but not in front of supporters, their first win on their ‘return’, but across London, another manager who lost out was not so happy.
Scott Fraser’s 75th-minute goal at the Valley condemned promotion rivals Charlton to a home defeat against MK Dons, despite 2,000 supporters being allowed back into the ground. We all saw videos of fans cheering their teams out, with even 2,000 sounding loud and proud in the clips, but post-game Addicks boss Lee Bowyer revealed he wasn’t happy with his supporters.
“We’ve been wanting them to come back from day one and they’ve been kept away. Even though it was 2,000 I expected non-stop singing, supporting the players and pushing them. But it wasn’t like that,” said the former Leeds United man.
“It was very, very quiet apart from some negative shouting – and I didn’t expect that tonight. Listen, the players didn’t really do too much to get people on their feet, but sometimes they need a bit of help, and that’s what our fans are great at. It wasn’t what I expected, because we don’t stop singing normally. And there wasn’t much singing at all, from start to finish, tonight.”
The result means Charlton remain in fourth, three points behind the Imps on the same games. Peterborough, beaten by a Joe Pigott strike, are third, one point behind the Imps but having played a game more.
“I’m pleased to see them back in. I would have liked it to have been a bit more positive from the fans,” added Bowyer. They’ve been away so long, I’d rather they get behind the team and try and get them going. Because they played a hard game on Saturday against Ipswich and when we play at home we need those fans to be positive and pick the lads up when it’s not going so well.”
The Imps will see fans in a stadium next week, albeit all away fans in Shrewsbury’s Montgomery Waters Meadow ground in the EFL Trophy. After that, it is back to closed doors for the visit of Sunderland, before we await news on the tiered system in Lincolnshire.
The debate around fans in grounds has raged on all summer and only a handful of pundits have highlighted how it might be counter-productive, something Charlton found out to their cost last night. It was a good night for the Imps all around, as Accrington drew 2-2 with Shrewsbury. They are on 23 points, six behind us, but have two games in hand, so them dropping points was almost as important as Peterborough and Charlton doing so.
The results go to show there are no easy games at this level, which serves to underline how good our own run of seven from nine is, even against the sides perceived to be strugglers.