Today was fixture release day, when many fans began planning their next ten months.
I don’t tend to get excited about it, but I’m a pessimist. I see Sheff Weds signing the likes of Will Vaulks and dread the weekend they come here. It’s silly really, I know that we’ll have a decent side, we’ll win some games and the fixture list might not be as daunting as it looks, but right now it feels tough. We’ve barely got a midfield, there are not many goals in the team… yeah, yeah, I know, it’s only June 23rd. However, the first game kicks off on July 30th, that’s just 37 days away. To put that into context, if you were to go back 37 days, you’d arrive on May 17th, after Mark Kennedy was appointed. The new man has already had half of his pre-season, and we’ve signed two players.
I’m doing the exact thing I tell people not to do every year, aren’t I?
Anyway, today was fixture release day, so what are the highlights? Firstly, let’s start with the cups, even though neither are really credible anymore. We’ve got Doncaster in the Carabao Cup, a decent draw on the face of it as they’re a division below us, but a team we’ve hated playing against in recent seasons. We haven’t beaten them in 18 years, and the last time we met in the League Cup, they spanked us 4-1. So, it’s great news we’ve also got them in the Papa John’s Trophy, isn’t it? No. No, it’s not. We’ll also face Barnsley as part of that competition, and Newcastle Under 21s. As if the competition wasn’t hard enough to defend already. Still, a chance to blood some of our young players one hopes, perhaps in the Carabao Cup as well.
That’s the cups dealt with, what about the league fixtures? We open at home against Exeter, which is good for me as my Uncle and Cousin are already planning a trip up, and they’re always good fun. My Uncle, Keith Muxlow, was a Lincoln lad, he went to school here until his early teens before being whisked off to Exeter, so he has a foot in both camps; it’s nice to meet up with him.
We’re at home on my birthday against Morecambe, so it’ll either be a great celebration or I’ll feel especially miserable when I get home that day. As a kid, my birthday always seemed to fall around FA Cup weekend, so it’ll be decent to have a league game to go to. Disappointingly, Derby home and away is on a Tuesday, which dampens the day out a bit, but at least Pompey away is a Saturday this season. Christmas is fairly low-key, with just one home game Between November 19th and December 29th – FA Cup permitting of course. The double header over New Year, Bolton and Ipswich at home, looks very tasty and reminds me a bit of 2019 when Posh and Ipswich looked daunting, but we won both.
Also, given the results we had last season, I might be morbid but the final month does look favourable in terms of a possible relegation battle. If we do need points, I see Cheltenham (Good Friday, another Easter fixture), Port Vale, and Shrewsbury as the sort of games we should be winning, and there’s Morecambe away in there also.
That’s pretty much that, for now. The fixtures are out, the season looks real and yet for me, there’s still a long way to go this summer. Once the boys get back in pre-season training on Monday, I expect things to start happening quickly, but until then I’m sorry if there’s a little pessimism seeping in. I guess working from home, alone all day (Fe is in Cambridge for three days) and not being able to get out and run because of the heat is making me a bit grouchy!
Still, good news about being at home on my birthday, right?