Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Vanilla Slice denied: Lincoln City vs the Mighty

The better we get, the less there is to say. How should we play today? It doesn't matter as whichever formation we play, we're wizards. Who should we play? Throw all the names in the air and see where they land and we'll still be world beaters. 

Maybe it's time to calm down a bit. We've done what I honestly wasn't very confident that we'd be able to, we've put ourselves into the play offs, we've given ourselves a cushion where we can afford one or two poor results and now, so convincing have we been recently, I find myself doing maths to see if we can get automatic promotion. 

Here's some facts... 
  • The most points we can get (if we win every remaining game) is 90. 

  • 90 points would be enough to gain promotion in only 2 of the last 5 completed seasons. 

  • The highest points total for 6th place in the same period was 74 points (to achieve this, we'd require 1.22 points per remaining game - we currently average 1.70 points per game)

  • Hull are currently on track to reach an improbable 87.4 points. 

  • Peterborough are headed 86.1 and Sunderland for 85.94 

  • We're on track to finish 4th currently, with a total of 78.2 points
What this shows I think, is we definitely can pull Sunderland a lot closer to us by taking 6 points off them but it's going to need either Hull or Peterborough to implode a little bit no matter what we do. To not finish in the play offs, we'd need to go off the rails in in a spectacular fashion. 




Hi Neil, it's Sam here, yeah, Sam from West Brom, that's right... listen, mate, one tip for you, I know it's all going well, but you need to sign a random loan keeper to replace the really good keeper you've already got. Trust me on that. It's a fool proof way to make sure the run in goes with out a hitch... 

Critch hasn't spun the roulette wheel much. The Viking comes in for Thorniley, presumably because Lincoln are a bit more mobile than Gillingham. The defence on the bench looks outstanding and it's good to see Brad Holmes back from Covid and amongst the subs.

But hang on! Where's headless really pretty damn good Demi? Another mystery vanishing act, presumably an injury. It does look a very defensive set of subs, but with unlucky Matty recovering and Bez wherever Bez is, I'm not sure there are actually another other options beyond Rob Apter. I'd love to see Holmes get a chance. If (in a weekend of national mourning, I don't want to add to your burden but...) we're not going to see the goal machine again, then it would be really good to see if either Holmes or Bange are up to the challenge as I don't think 2 strikers is enough, especially, if we're starting with both of them. Whilst this is a big game ('Clive, they're all big games at this stage of the season') if Gary Goals doesn't reemerge, the danger is one of them is going to get thrown into a really big game out of necessity.

Weirdly I wasn't nervous, but as kick off approaches, I am getting much more nervous. Lincoln are missing key players, Jorge Grant a particular miss for them, but I can't help but worry that we're more comfortable than them and they're going to be desperately up for this as they are at real risk of falling out the play offs. There's literally no logic in being worried that we're in much better form than they are, but such is the mind of a football fan.

Let's get on with this... 

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Isn't two minutes ages? You think time flies, but then, when you stop and observe it, it doesn't. When my nan died, I was struck by how old she was only after her death. What really brought it home was looking up the film of the 1925 FA cup final. That sounds daft, but it summed up to me what changes she must have seen in her life, going from the cloth capped 20s, all black and white and horse and cart to the credit card and virtual reality future of now. Ol' Phil was even older than she was and whilst I'm anything but a royalist, it's something just to stop and think of mortality, life and all the connections to a bygone world that end when someone venerable passes on. Here's the (pre Wembley) FA cup from the year he was born...


It's all about Callum Morton in the opening, his turn sets up a crossing chance, Ballard dives and heads it away. Then, the same defender knocks a heavy ball back to Maxwell. Fear not, for Maxwell, controls and kicks away, but the Imp's man launches himself at Maxwell and catches him hard on the ankle with lunging tackle, some time after the ball has gone. It looks a red card to me. 

We float a corner high over everyone. Ballard makes a great sliding challenge to stop Lincoln getting away on the left. Dougall and Garbutt make a couple of challenges that suggest revenge for Morton's assault on Maxwell is their key aim. 

Lincoln are having the better possession but haven't really made anything of it. There's a lot of head tennis and it's from a prolonged bout that we make our first chance, Ward leaping well and flicking it forward with real vision for Yates to peel away. He's a sniper, but he's a footballer too and his slide rule pass for Simms is lovely, Simms takes it well, makes an angle and hammers an effort that is deflected inches wide. 

It's Simms again, being fouled on the edge of the box. Sullay lines it up, hits a a side foot curler just inside the far post, the keeper springs and turns it round the corner. Garbutt whips it in, Turton makes a near post run, connects beautifully and the net ripples, but for the second time in about a minute, it's the side netting. 

There's a more typical Ollie Turton moment a few moments later as he wizards his way out of a tight corner, shimmies past two then crosses to no one at all. Pool are dominating now and starting to get Embleton on the ball. Simms benefits from another ballooning header forward, his first touch takes him away from his man, the challenge comes, Simms keeps going and as he realises he's not going to make the ball as his touch was a bit heavy and was probably fouled in the challenge, he falls over, but a stride or two too late to be natural. It's maybe a VAR penalty, but this isn't VAR football. 

At the other end Lincoln are breaking and Morton runs at the Viking but he makes standing up and getting a well timed foot in look so easy. No matter what their ginger villain does or how many step overs he performs, Gretarsson just keeps his eye on the ball and strikes at the perfect time. We hit back with a lovely move, Kenny Dougall with a pass possibly superior to Jerry's earlier effort as he spots a tiny gap and slides Kaikai in behind their defence. The enigmatic genius races to the goal line and drives it across, but it's blocked. Embleton then plays another brilliant pass, shaping as if he's going into the box, but playing a ball of divine weight down the right hand penalty box line to give Turton a chance to cross, but again, it's blocked.  

Johnson runs past everyone, but can't find away through. He seemed to beat about 5, but there seemed to be more players to beat, no matter how many he went past. Maybe our defence is actually magic?

Morton again causes problems, taking the ball down 5 yards outside the box, both the Viking and Ballard shadow him, it looks like they've got it under control, but the red menace sees the brilliantly named Conor Mcgrandles coming from deep, Dougall trailing in his wake, he plays the perfect ball, Mcgrandles goes round Maxwell but the keeper forces him wide enough for the shot to hit the side netting. A let off. 

Turton has another classicly Turton moment as he races forward again (he's been really advanced today,) turning down all options because he's the league 1 Cafu and then hammering it as high and wide as he possibly can. Was it a cross or a shot? Who knows...

Then a goal. A goal for us. A magnificent goal. Embleton is a fighter as well as a dream weaver and he's scrapping for the ball on the edge of the box. There's one of him and about 5 Lincoln players but he's gets the final touch. The ball pops loose and Simms is alert, he picks it up, drags it away from one tackle, takes another touch to set him self and absolutely leathers it home from just inside the box, one of those rising shots that bounces back off the net crisply. Beautiful and well deserved. 

Yates flicks it over his head, spins and almost gets in. As part of the same move, Sullay plays a gorgeous cross from which Simms attempts a back header from that doesn't quite come off. Yates then controls, turns into the box and drops an audacious back heel. Embleton feasts on it, driving a low, arrow like shot from the right hand corner of the area at the near post that the keeper can only parry wide. From a deep corner, Yates shows ridiculous skill to get away from his man who is following him with parasitic closeness, only to be shaken off by Yates' brilliance. A heavy touch lets him down at the last and we go in only 1 goal to the good. 

---

Like Gillingham, we've earned the right to play and having done so, we've been magnificent again. There's no point picking out individuals when we play like this as we're a unit, but I think Yates has looked lively as hell this half. His confidence is off the scale, his link up work has been something else and that is reflected in the willingness of the rest of the team (Turton included) to have a go. 

Here's the thing. It took us till about 15/20 minutes to make anything, but once we started, we seemed to have such control and such a forward looking mentality that it felt like we were ahead before we actually were. I can't remember the last time I felt like that, as if we were inevitably going to score, so used am I to ruing missed chances and worrying that they're going to count later on. 

---

Lincoln make two subs. I'm now worried that missed chances are going to pay as there's always something slightly ominous about half time changes. 

Why worry? Why fucking worry!!! We are outrageously good. Simms turns it round the corner first time to Yates, Yates back heels to Sullay who is racing through the middle, taking it on and sliding it low into the bottom corner, just as I start to think he might get caught. It's a a fucking ridiculously good goal. It's a Sullay goal. It's everything I could possibly have asked for and more. 

Chissy implores us to 'set the recorders' as if we're all reliant on Betamax. We nearly then score another equally good goal as Embleton threads it through a tiny space, finding Simms in the box, he opts to fire it across goal to Yates who for once gets his feet wrong, the ball striking his standing leg about 5 yards out. 

Lincoln have a couple of breaks, but we snuff them out. Simms, Kaikai and Embleton combine to cause chaos on out next attack. It feels as if we're more than 2 up such is the ease in which we're making chances. Instinct kicks in. Nerves return. If we fuck this up, it'll be a nightmare. Rogers has a lovely drifting run and cracks an effort from inside the D. Someone gets a touch to it and deflects it over. From the corner, they get on to it at the far post and head it just over the top. Come on Pool. 

This is where you'd want to bring on Demi to burst from deep but he's not there. Turton gets done by Bramhall who burst past him, winning a foul. The cross from the free kick is perfect, the header is strong, but Maxwell throws up his arms and turns it over magnificently. Not for the first time, when he's been needed after doing not a lot for most of the game, he's pulled out a brilliant stop. 

Turton is on one again, this time charging into the box after another bit of wizardry. He does the opposite of last time, putting everything into hitting the target, which he does, a toe poke from 15 yards that is straight at the keeper. An Ollie Turton goal would be the icing on the cake but he does seem to have only two options in front of goal - either timid or belt it miles over. To be fair to our hero Ollie, Jordan Gabriel is also woeful whenever he has a chance to shoot. 

The cake might have been iced minutes later as Garbutt's near post corner is met by a sliding Ollie, his contact is matched by a Lincoln man and the ball pops out nicely for Embleton who lines it up and drives it almost as high and mighty as Turton's earlier effort. 

Lincoln bring three more subs on. We don't change anything as we're dominating. 

Simms feeds Embleton, he's calm in the box, the angle is tight and he waits and feeds Yates, one touch, he aims, and then, not for the first time today he misfires, scuffing his shot, it rolls past the keeper anyway though, but a diving challenge scoops it off the line. 

Simms goes round the outside to reach a ball up the left touchline, he drives forward, fires a shot from an acute angle, the keeper sprawls and palms it away, Yates is sniffing and connects cleanly, low and hard, going the other way from the keeper, but a defender's legs intervene. What do we have to do to get a third?

Then disaster. Lincoln go down the right and drive a hard ball across, Maxwell throws himself forward, punching it, but it loops up for Anthony Scully on the other side of the box, who finishes well from a difficult angle that's made easier, by the fact that Maxwell is having to race back in vain to try and cover his goal, the pain of the goal writ large in the keeper's doomed and desperate effort to get to the shot that he was never going to reach. 

We surely can't fuck this up. We should have been 5 up by this point. Really. Gabriel replaces Embleton. Lincoln are snapping at us now. It's not surprising, seen as half their outfield side have played at least 45 minutes less than ours and they've had time off for Covid... I'd put money on Ethan Robson coming on, but there's no sign of him. Simms has dropped deeper and he looks a bit odd tracking back. 

Then Lincoln score again. Scully (who was one of their ominous subs) cuts inside and threads a pass to Johnson, who clips it home. It's a very well worked goal but whilst I don't know who to blame, it felt pretty easy. I can barely bring myself to type anything more. Robson then comes on for Simms. I'm frankly bricking it now.

Robson wins it well and nearly sets us away. Robson loses it and nearly sets Lincoln away. Chissy mentions half a loaf. I was all set for a fucking vanilla slice of a win, never mind bread. 

4 minutes of injury time. Robson bursts away and is hacked down. Sullay does some questionable defending. Sullay then does some good defending. 

We're going to send a long throw in! Gabriel launches it, no one wins it and there are massive shouts for a hand ball - nothing doing. We get a free kick, it's launched in we win it, they win it, it's headed away and the whistle goes... 

--- 

I don't want to sum this up. We were superb for most of this game. We should have had at least 4 goals and yet somehow we've come away from this with a draw. On the face of it, a draw at a play off contender is par for the course and given our injuries and their fresh legs, perhaps we shouldn't feel so negative, but we dominated that game and got done. For fuck's sake! 

What makes it more strange is that the player whose finishing let us down was the lad who has got us here in the first place. Yeah, Embleton and Turton had a couple of wild efforts, but Jerry missed a hat trick of decent chances, all of which you'd back him to do much better with. Yet his link up play was magnificent and he's more than earned a few misses with his brilliance in recent weeks. The final one was, to be fair a bit unlucky. 

I should right something about crediting Lincoln's character for their comeback, but frankly, I'm not in the mood... It's frankly petulant to complain about drawing away at Lincoln, especially after having played so well but there we go. I think we paid a price for not being able to really make the right changes. Virtue or Mitchell would have suited that game, Kevin Stewart would have been an ideal spoiler, being able to go long to Madine later on and so on. We also paid the price for the referee very possibly bottling a red card and two penalties. Fuck it, we should have been 7 (SEVEN) up before they scored. 

I also don't like Michael Appleton the Greek finance minster looking ex North End freak. (actually, I don't mind him normally, but I don't like him tonight) 

I'm going to stop now. We're 4th. We played very well mostly. Watch the 1921 cup final. It'll be soothing. 

Onward.

utmp 

So, yeah, basically, I know I've only been here 5 minutes, but I'm off to Blackburn. Getting paid in my body weight in chicken every week and it's better than working for Karl innit, see ya. 

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