12 Days of Christmas: Blackpool 2-0 Imps

Credit Graham Burrell

12 days. That’s how long we have between now and the next Lincoln City game.

We might just have finished the festive period, but the next 12 days will feel like Christmas all over again for Michael Skubala, a man who might just be wondering what he did wrong in a previous life. Whilst we unwrapped presents like aftershave, clothes and books, all he wanted was a few fit players. Instead, December has been like a game mode on FIFA, where every game you play, you have a player taken away before the next.

It’s been an utterly horrendous month for Lincoln City. Every time a team sheet comes out, you’re not looking to see who is injured these days – you’re looking at how many. You can’t go to Blackpool, Championship last season, with nine first-team players missing through injury or suspension, and get a result. Whatever happened on the field, the first safety net will always be, ‘yeah, but xxx was missing’.

Credit Graham Burrell

That means captain Paudie O’Connor and lynchpin midfielder Ethan Erhahon. Jack Burroughs and Sean Roughan completed the quartet of players out after the Northampton game, only adding to the losses of Reeco Hackett, Tyler Walker and Ben House we’ve been carrying all season. Then, of course, there’s Lewis Montsma, out long term, along with Danny Mandroiu suspended. In fact, the situation is so bad that writing that sentence I had to go back through the list because I couldn’t remember them all. It feels like trying to recollect all the counties in the UK; there’s always one that eludes you.

With that in mind, I actually feel sick at having to write the game up at having to try to critique the performance and the application of the players. It’s even worse when the first 45 minutes are almost an example of what we could achieve – a good performance, lacking the cutting edge, but more than capable of taking something from the game. There’s a weak goal to talk about (of course), another set piece too easy for the attacking side from a free kick some have disputed. I’m not so sure now. My first thought was horrible tackle, but I immediately changed to ‘got the ball’. Not that it mattered – we’d been the better side until then, and it shouldn’t have mattered.

Credit Graham Burrell

Matty Virtue, a player we were desperate to return from injury last season (imagine that, waiting for one player to return), really got my goat up. He seemed to elbow Lasse in exactly the same manner as Paudie caught his man on Friday, not even a card. He then deliberately tripped Duffy and was not booked before finally getting his first-half yellow for a nasty foul on Hamilton. Then there’s Jordan Rhodes, spearing Jensen and getting a yellow, which had the home commentators infuriated. They were aggrieved that the ref was against them, but then they benefited from a weak free kick.

In the midst of that we could have scored – Alex Mitchell getting a great chance but hooking over when absolutely clear. We’d looked strong in those early moments, Adelakun fighting hard on one flank, Makama causing a few worries, and Lasse absolutely bossing Owen Dale down the right. Briefly, I did wonder if perhaps this was the game that could bring a result we didn’t expect. I wondered, momentarily, if we’d perhaps get something from the game.

Credit Graham Burrell

One ball into the box, free header and the dream was dead. Brilliant, happy new year to you.

Over at Blundell Park, Freddie Draper limped off as well. I saw the yellow weather warning from 5 pm until 9 am tomorrow, but I didn’t realise it meant for Lincoln City. Michael Skubala can’t catch a break, and honestly, I’m finding it absolutely exhausting. What can go wrong is going wrong, and approaching the second half, I felt devoid of hope. The Gods are against us; it is as simple as that.

The truth is (and you may disagree), that we were the better side in the first half. Both teams had a similar number of shots, but for once, we had more possession, and I could see the patterns Skubala was implementing to improve things. But it doesn’t matter how you look at it; you can’t do a job without the right tools, and we didn’t have the right tools. There’s no two ways about it, as much as we try, as much as we look to change in a short space of time, every move is hampered.

Credit Graham Burrell

Also, the goal knocked our confidence. It was mentioned to me the team lacks a leader on the field, and I can see the basis for that comment. After the goal I felt we just dropped off a notch, looking slightly less braver, slightly more wary. Even the attacking intent graph (below) shows we dominated until they scored, and then we tailed off. It’s such a shame that promise was shown early doors that I did wonder if we might be getting a late Christmas present.

1 Comment

  1. Don’t forget that other teams have injury lists similar to us. They manage.
    Ill-discipline should be stamped out. Move players on if necessary.
    Jevon needs to go out on loan to whoever will take him.
    We need some mature players with experience. It’s too much like watching “boys v men” these days.
    Please God it’s not the beginning of a side down amongst the Dead Men! It has all the hallmarks of a slide.

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