Imps Lose Out After Late Accrington Postponement

Credit Graham Burrell

As you know by now, the Imps game against Accrington was postponed one minute after it should have kicked off this evening.

Normally, I do not try to look for blame, and I’m not going to get angry and indignant on behalf of those who did travel. I was in the warmth of my lounge, fire lit, and therefore, getting angry on social media is a bit out of place. I was affected; my £10 iFollow expenditure was made as a last-gasp decision; sadly, images appeared just as Rob Makepeace was suggesting the game was going to be off. It said ‘game delayed’ on my screen, which I assumed wasn’t for a late surge of supporters trying to get into a freezing ground.

The Blame Game

On social media, the blame game has started, and I’ve added to it, running a poll to see who fans think is to blame. Is it the referee, Accrington, or is it just one of those things? It seems you’re split, putting some of it on the club and some on the match official, who I believe was Martin Woods.

I have been contacted by two different people, both of whom I have a lot of time for, who have separately told me that the blame lies with the referee. One, who has experience from the official’s point of view, says that the club have no control over the postponement at all, whilst the other says that the Accrington groundsman was adamant at six that the standing water on the pitch would freeze, given the forecast.

What do the EFL regulations say? In instances where there has been persistent rain, snowfall or low temperatures in the week leading up to a fixture, it is the responsibility of the home Club to liaise with the EFL, match referee and visiting Club to ensure a pitch inspection is arranged and all parties are aware of the situation.

The match referee will always base his decision on the condition of the pitch at the time of inspection but will also factor in any forecast improvements or otherwise and consult both managers/backroom staff of each Club. Ultimately, however, the Referee’s decision is final in this scenario.”

Essentially, blame perhaps lies with whoever made the decision to cancel the planned pitch inspection, which would have revealed standing water, and perhaps at that stage, the forecast would be taken into account as well. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Not from tonight, but a game postponed against York City a few years ago – Credit Lincoln City

Why Is It Bad For The Imps?

There are multiple reasons it is not good for us. Firstly, it means a trip back to Accrington, most likely next Tuesday evening. That means yet another midweek game in a month already littered with them – we’ll play six games in the space of 20 days if it is scheudled for next week. The only other possibility is that it is played on the week of the next round in early January, and then we look to utilise a free Tuesday in January after that, throwing the ties out of sync. As things stand, we do not have a Tuesday night game in 2024 until February 13th. A decision on that is likely to be made in the next day or so, but rest assured that if there’s a solution that eases the burden on our players, the EFL will likely ignore it.

There’s also the issue around team selection. Paudie and Lasse were both back in the side tonight, but is that the case for the weekend’s trip to Wigan? Paudie didn’t return for the win against Cambridge; should he, therefore, come back into the side this weekend? It seems like a small matter, but in picking a team for tonight and them not playing, he’s handed chances to players they haven’t been able to take. Jack Vale is another example, whilst Dylan Duffy was given a chance in an attacking role – will that be the case on Saturday?

Credit Graham Burrell

There’s also the frustration of wasted time. The team had the weekend off and used Monday to prep for this game – that’s work that could have been put in on the training ground around tactics and how Michael Skubala wants to play going forward. Again, it’s minor, but it’s just the sort of messing about that we can do without. That said, the postponement wouldn’t have happened yesterday, so we’d still have put that work in.

Finally, and this may feel a little disrespectful to Accrington, but I expected us to win tonight. They had made six changes from the team that lost 4-3 to Swindon last time out, and they are on a three-game losing streak. With our strong team, I expected a victory and for us to go into Wigan on a high, three wins from four and with selection headaches caused by good performances.

What Are The Positives?

There are positives. One would imagine that tomorrow was going to be a recovery day for the team, but unless they are jaded from a two-hour bus journey, tomorrow is likely to be a full training day so we may get an extra session or two ahead of Wigan. We’re also able to get some rest into the legs of players ahead of a hectic Christmas schedule, and whilst there are pros and cons to that, keeping players fit is going to be utterly crucial as we go through the next few weeks.

Credit Graham Burrell

We’re on the final straight to 2024, the Holy Grail of an open transfer window, and all we need to do is stay tucked in where we are until that window opens, and we can correct the issues we’ve had in the squad since the beginning of September. Not playing against Accrington tonight on a frozen pitch might just be a big advantage in terms of fitness until New Year, especially if we’re not forced to play next week.

Ultimately, I feel sorry for those hardy fans who went to the game – my good friend Karl Mercer for instance. I’m not going to get angry on social media on their behalf, and as long as iFollow gives me a refund on the game, I’ll be happy. It would be nice to know the process which led to the postponement, and where we stand on it, as arguably the only involved party who cannot shoulder any of the blame. Whatever, it won’t change the fact we lost a game, and I still managed to churn out 1000 words on it.

Not sure the xG stats will look all that good either, although I’m reliably informed that we still had about the same xG as we did at home against Cambridge last season.