The Imps travel to Bristol Rovers this weekend, knowing a second win on the spin will be a huge boost after last night’s victory.
Whilst we were beating Derby County in the league for the first time since October 1959, The Gas were getting beaten at Ipswich, their sixth game without a win. Conor Chaplin and Lee Evans netted in either half to consign Joey Barton’s side to a defeat, leaving them below us in the early table. They suffered an early blow with Harry Anderson coming off injured, and it’ll be a shame if we don’t see him this weekend, but further misery awaited late on.
Firstly, central defender Bobby Thomas, on loan from Burnley, was sent off for his second bookable offence. To make matters worse, his defensive partner, Alfie Kilgour, got his marching orders in the final minute for hauling down Chaplin after letting the striker get past him.
We think we have injury concerns, but it’s nothing compared to Barton’s headache. Those two will be suspended for the weekend’s fixture, whilst James Connolly and James Gibbons are sidelined with stress fractures. Another centre-back, Lewis Gibson, has a calf tear meaning Barton only has one player who can play centre-back available; Luca Hoole, who is usually a midfielder. That means we’re just going to lump it forward according to Barton, who is seemingly unimpressed with League One. He’s already fallen foul of Shrewsbury fans after blasting them for being boring, and now he’s labelling us as long-ball chances, but not before having a moan about the lack of parity in the budgets across the divisions.
“We’ve got to remember what we’re doing this year,” he told Bristol Live. “The reality is at this moment, I wish we could compete with Ipswich and the like, but when they’re dropping £1.5million on a left-back and £800,000 here, they’ve got two teams in effect who are maybe players above the level, players who could get Championship moves.”
What is funny, as a side comment, is that when teams were enjoying true parity in the 20/21 wage cap season, Barton was sacked with his Fleetwood team struggling to keep up with the top six. When The Cod Army outspent others, as he alludes to Ipswich doing, they did well. Funny. Pot/kettle etc. Anyway, back to Matt Rhead’s best mate.
“It does show the reality of where we are now,” he whined. “We never came to a stadium like this last season in League Two, and we’ve got to build blocks of our team. It doesn’t help when we’ve got players who aren’t available via injury, and it doesn’t help when I think we get stupid and needless sending-offs via our own stupidity.”
When quizzed on the possible back four, he said, “Hooley can do a job there. We’ll figure something out, but it might be difficult for Lincoln to prepare for us, put it that way, but I imagine they’ll be lumping it straight forward from back to front and testing out our backline.” Yep, that’s what we do all the time. Whilst we have been able to go direct at times, it does make you wonder if Barton has bothered to do any scouting at all, doesn’t it?
The truth is he shouldn’t have to make huge adjustments because, in my opinion, Kilgour’s red is not a foul. He apparently said there was no contact, and I’m inclined to agree. Barton said they’ll likely appeal the decision, adding, “We’ll need to otherwise we’re going to be playing people who aren’t centre-halves at centre-half because we’ve got no available or fit centre-halves as of Tuesday night.”
In fairness, I’d feel aggrieved at the red card Kilgour got (more so at the way he gave up possession) if he were in red and white, but why let that ruin a good anti-Barton story ahead of the weekend’s fixture, right?