I’m going to have to keep it brief tonight, but then again, it won’t make a difference.
Do you remember that article I wrote, Groundhog Day? Or Groundhog Day 2? Well, welcome to more of the same. Welcome to yet another ‘Lincoln City nil’, as expected. The worst thing, the absolute killer, is that we didn’t play all that badly. The problem is we give goals away like Halloween candy, and we couldn’t score in a house of ill-repute. They’re the fundamentals of football, and you can play good football, but if you can’t do those things, you’re in the shit, frankly. Right now, until we see players coming in, we’re deep in the brown stuff, drowning. I haven’t mentioned the ‘R’ word up until now, but we desperately need players, both those who can finish a dinner and those who show a bit of passion.
If you’re looking for the positives, the first half was alright. We didn’t look bad, and we had probably the best chance through Adelakun. Chris Maguire played a blinding ball to the winger, but he fluffed his lines. It was a gilt-edged opportunity, the sort that other players finished nine times out of ten last season. Adelakun missed, it remained 0-0, and we lived to rue that opportunity.
Look, we played well in the first half, but we still gave stupid chances away, and bottom of the league Crewe could easily have scored as well. I’m afraid that’s what we’re desperately lacking right now; someone who can just put the bloody ball in the net. Do you realise we last scored a league goal 38 days ago, or 408 minutes of football (if you added injury time, that would probably be close to 430 minutes). I don’t see a single player in this team who could score a goal for us.
Despite that, we were well in the game going in at half time. Liam Bridcutt just made us better, and at first we looked solid. Our luck began to turn when Adam Jackson took another smack to the head, another concussion injury, which is exactly what happened against Shrewsbury. In that game, we were 1-0 up and the injury affected the team to a point where we conceded. This time, he went off and we looked a little weaker. Half time came around and you knew things weren’t going to go well; Bridcutt went off, Robson (injured we think) and for me, that was always going to be that. Bramall shifted to left-back, Eyoma came on and Sorensen in the midfield. The team that took to the field for the second half was markedly weaker than the one that walked off, reflective of the lack of depth, quality and belief in our squad.
However, the game turned not on those changes, but on three mad minutes at the start of the half. Firstly, Declan Bourne awarded a truly horrible penalty for a non-foul outside the area. The ‘offender’ was Montsma, but genuinely, it is never a penalty. It’s not a foul, it a player bumping into another during a contested header (which their player won), and it’s outside of the area. I guess the Crewe fans might say things like ‘cry more’, or ‘salty’, but that’s how I feel. It’s a gift of a goal for the home side, a penalty almost as weak as Szmodics in the game against Peterborough last season. At least that was in the area.
That moment changed the game, more so because of the soft underbelly we’ve got. The minute Mandron beat Griffiths, the game was over, heads dropped and one just got completely lost; the head of TJ Eyoma. The defender was a marquee signing this summer, but he’s been poor since then, and he seriously let us down with a mindless foul to give them a second sport kick in three minutes. He walked, leaving us with one centre back for the weekend, and Mandron scored his second. That was that really.
Does it matter we didn’t play badly after that? We missed several chances to get one back, Adelakun again backing out of taking a shot in one instance. He was quickly taken off after seemingly being in a hurry to get rid of the ball, afraid of taking a player on. Maguire blasted over when it was easier to knock it in, and Crewe are so frail I think if we’d had anything about us, we’d have gone on and got more. Actually, if it had been anyone other than us, we’d have gone on and scored. Sadly, there are no goals in this team.
What did we get after that? Decent football, a few soft half chances from range (Bishop and Fiorini mainly to blame), and plenty of scares up the other end. We had one central defender on the field (Montsma), a right-back at centre back (Poole), a midfielder at right-back (Bishop), no midfield to speak of and blunted forwards. What’s frustrating is we’re not being thrashed or completely outplayed; in three games we’ve had 33 corners. I dare bet not one of those brought a serious chance. At one stage, we got a free kick in a good area, Montsma came forward and we played it short. Seriously, what the bloody hell is going on? Where is the desire to score? Why can’t we just put a free-kick into the box? Why can’t we get on the end of a single corner?
Tonight’s game should have been 0-0. without the first penalty, which is as soft as you’ll see, there’s probably no second penalty. That’s not an excuse, but it is fair to assume. Neither side looked likely to finish from open play. The same can be said of the FA Cup game, where an own goal gave them the win. The same could be said of the Carlisle game, where a player drinking water whilst the game was going on gave them a win. It’s constant, these errors, slips and screw ups. Sadly, when you’re as weak in the final third as we are, it really doesn’t matter how the goals go in. The fact is this; one goal beats Lincoln City at the moment.
Right now, I could cry. I still maintain this team are better than those around us, certainly between both boxes. The problem is we give silly goals away, and we’re no chance of coring. We fluff chances, we back out of taking players on and we’ve nobody with a spark of creativity. Scully and Hopper must be sitting in the stands desperate to get on and add something. Anything. They’re not half as desperate as I am to see that happen. Not only because I support the club, but for the first time I can remember I looked towards Saturday and thought ‘thank goodness I’m not at the game this weekend’. That’s how it’s getting me. You know what? It would be easier if we were shit, it really would. If we were getting stuffed 6-0, getting outplayed all the time and embarrassing. That, I could handle.
This is even worse.
Challenge on Montsma on the edge of the box. No foul. Refereeing in League One, inconsistent and awful
— Tom Clarke (@_TomClarke) December 7, 2021