We now turn back to league action after the cup game last night, and Forest Green are the visitors Saturday.
1: How do you feel the game went from a Pompey point of view?
Pompey controlled the game well at times but lacked the killer ball in the final third. Our press, which was so effective last season and was the most intense in League One according to OPTA stats for PPDA (passes per defensive action). The press did not seem coordinated and put little pressure on your centre-backs when the ball was at their feet, which I was hoping could be a weakness for Lincoln. Unfortunately, this meant we struggled to impose ourselves on you at the back. It was quite frustrating to watch after putting three past Sheffield Wednesday. It could have been different if Hackett finished that chance just before half-time but alas, it was not meant to be.
2: Imps fans feel at times, you went long a bit quick and didn’t try to use the likes of Curtis and Scarlett earlier, do you think that might have changed things?
Both Jacobs and Hackett seemed narrow and Pompey struggled to pass through the midfield. Curtis made a few decent runs but his overall impact on the game was limited. I am not sure would have been a game changer if he had started. A glaring weakness was a clear lack of pace from our wingers, who failed to take on your fullbacks and get balls into the box. Owen Dale has since signed and Danny Cowley will help he adds that direct style to the team. Dane Scarlett looked lively when he came on and maybe if he had better service from the start could have grabbed a goal.
However, Pompey lost the game by failing to establish dominance in the midfield. We missed Joe Morrell or new recruit Tom Lowery to drive the ball forward through the middle and create between the midfield and defence. Lincoln won more duels than Pompey (65/50) and it was evident by Pompey’s lack of meaningful possession high up the pitch. Lincoln’s wingers tucked in making a five-man midfield. Pompey did end up going long to Piggott and Bishop too often, aiming to avoid the extremely effective Lincoln press. Credit to Lincoln for slowing us down and pressing high up the pitch.
3: What was your overall impression of Lincoln?
Lincoln looked like a well-drilled team who implemented a game plan to stop Pompey from playing. Going forward, you looked fairly toothless but solid at the back. It is clear you need some firepower up top and the service to go with it. Lincoln did not manage a shot on target all game and out of the 4 shots, only the header from the corner was inside the box. Crossing seemed an issue which was backed up by the numbers with an accuracy of only 12%. I felt you looked a lot more confident out of possession than when you had the ball.
4: Any Lincoln players stand out for you and if so, why?
Carl Rushford had an excellent game in goal making key saves when called upon. I was impressed by Lasse Sorensen who matched up well against Marlon Pack and Louis Thompson despite concerns about being too lightweight. Breaking the play, Sorenson won five of seven ground duels and prevented Pompey from passing to the feet of Joe Piggott. Jamie Robson completely neutralised Reeco Hackett at right wing and had him in his pocket all game.
5: Crucially, do you like the new away kit?
I much prefer it to the red and white strips of the home kit and overall looked smart. I preferred last season’s away kit with a splash of blue in it if I remember right!
6: Finally, on that showing, what does Lincoln need to secure a mid-table finish this season?
It is clear your squad is not completed but defensively you looked sound. A box-to-box midfielder that looks forward would help drive play in the right direction. Most critical for me are a couple of strikers and a right winger. I was not convinced Hakeeb Adelakun is good enough going forward. Some dynamic pace in the front three to build on a solid system could see you finish safe in the middle of the league.