“They Drag Us Down” – Imps Boss Reflects On Accrington Defeat

City exited the BSM Trophy against Accrington for the third time in six seasons last night, losing 1-0 to a Longelo wonder strike deep into stoppage time.

In a game that was a challenge to watch in the first half and a little too open in the second, I never really felt City got control. The goal was excellent, but it was preventable, and in his post-match comments, Michale Skubala echoed those sentiments.

“It’s a really tough way to lose a game,” he said, speaking to BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Rob Makepeace. “It’s a great goal, but I think there are moments in that possession where we could have helped ourselves really defend it better.”

There were chances at both ends and whilst Imps fans may not believe this when they read it, we had better xG than Accrington and perhaps should have won the fixture. Michael certainly believed we had good chances.

Credit Graham Burrell

“I also think we had some chances to score, and we should have put it in the back of the net. So, it’s a tough way to go out.

“We came to try and win the game. I think first half, we weren’t on it. Second off, we looked like we were going to score but then got caught.”

When presented with the suggestion that both teams dragged each other down, the head coach was quick to refute the allegation – and stats back him up. Accrington committed 20 fouls to our seven, and they certainly broke the game up as much as possible.

“They drag us down, if I’m honest. It was going to be the sort of place where they like to make the game messy and ratty, and you have to be running hard. You have to do all the basics really well.

“We weren’t at it in reality. We didn’t look the same team as we did at Wigan without the ball. We let them settle on the second ball a bit too easily.”

The Imps made changes tactically at half time, then replaced Jack Vale and Mide Shodipo with Jovon Makama and Ted Bishop in the second period, which did alter the complexion of the game.

“Half time, we go in, and we make a few adjustments to try and do it. Then we went to a back four to try and get a bit more of a foothold.

“I think that worked well. Then Jovon’s come on and had an impact and the changes. I think then we started to get on top. Then in the end, we just got caught.

“We did the shape change just to match them up because we weren’t getting much joy. Then we were having more dominance and controlling the game a little bit more, but we can’t get caught. That’s the disappointing thing.”

Credit Graham Burrell

The changes didn’t bring the desired outcome, and Longelo’s super goal was all that stopped the encounter going to penalties. At times, one or two players were lethargic on the ball, and Michael admitted he felt some players looked tired, and that he learned more during the game than he can on the training pitch.

“A couple of performances in there looked young, in a tough place. I think we just need to learn from it. We need to get better.

“I think it’s one of those brilliant learning experiences. You may come away to a League Two team, but it’s going to be a fight and a battle, and you have to match that first and foremost for 90.

“I’m learning every day a little bit more about the players. You think you learn about them in training, but actually, you don’t learn better than 90 minutes of a game, especially in a tough environment like Accrington when the balls are coming on you and the second balls.”

Finally, Rob asked him whether it was now a case of being able to concentrate on the league and whether that was one positive to take from the game.

“I prefer to be in this as well,” answered Michael. “(Although) that’s a positive, we can look at the league and go after that. 

“We go again on a tough game at home”.

Credit Graham Burrell

City’s next game is this Saturday against Reading, the first time the two teams have met in any competition this century. Their last visit to the Bank was in April 1999, when Darren Caskey gave them a first-half lead. Jason Barnett levelled, with Lee Thorpe putting City ahead with ten minutes to go, only for Caskey to score four minutes from time to secure a 2-2 draw. City were relegated from the third tier a month later.

We haven’t beaten Reading since March 1986, when Willie Gamble and Neil Redfearn scored for us at Elm Park as we won 2-0. Two months later, City were relegated from the third tier.


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