PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Cambridge ‘Home’)

In terms of bouncebackability, that was as fruitless an exercise, as hoping to bounce off the pavement after jumping off the top of Canary Wharf. An insipid, clueless second half performance, which lacked any punch, resulted in our unbeaten home record hitting the wall. Everyone can have a stinker, but when the manager and the vast majority of players have one of the same night, then problems are there for all to see. Gash wasn’t just the opposition number nine.

A braindead team selection not helped by one of our better and experienced players having a hissy fit on Saturday , the sort of selection which flies in the face of rationality. Two holding midfield players in a home game, as two bright ball players played warm the bench. Triffic, Rodders. If you pick a team not to lose a home game in a league with so few promotion places,smacks of fear and massive self doubt. Then the manager deserves all stick he gets. Lost respect for him tonight. Since he has been manager, he’s gone with a positive attitude in lots of matches but he made the likes of Money , Lawrence and Blackwell look like an attacking football freak like Keegan. You don’t have to have the foresight of Mystic Meg to see that was a wretched starting eleven that was. If that lot starts another home game for Luton again, with better options on the bench, heads should roll.

The transformation since half time at Bath is desparately worrying. I blame me, my fault for starting to have a bit of optimism after the gutsy win against Lincoln, when my gut feeling when the season started, we were a play off team at best, with either Fleetwood, York or Newport winning it ( Erm….. great call that!) . Got suckered in when the likes of Fleetwood and Kissock were bought in. Thought that would give us some much needed quality. But in the space of seven days, we have unravelled dramatically.

In the last three games, we have played so poorly in three out of six halves, Not forcing a goalkeeper into a save sums it up after half time. Cambridge kept their shape well, defended fiercely with McAuley outstanding. Cambridge came with a simple but effective game plan of keeping it tight, then nick one in the break, if possible. Fair play to their manager George for turning them around so quickly after a season of struggle last term, with a young side, little money to spend and the Rossi Jarvis handicap system. Actually, we could done with the Fakenham Flouncer Rossmondo tonight, which speaks volumes. He was his usual self, some wildly mis-directed passes trying to be clever, but some reasonable short range passing. Compared to Keane and Hand, he was made to look like Ricky Hill in his prime in his distrubtion.

On the ball it was ropey stuff. The centre halves and central midfielders played pass the parcel with the ball before the hopeful hoof forward. Good job we have a target man. Oh . Felt sorry for Stuart Fleetwood, not one decent pass to his feet. Could have had Rooney and Aguero up top and it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference, if the final ball is poor. None of the forwards showed for the ball though ,until Kissock came on – at least half an hour too late, it needed more quality at half time.

The final insult came after a long overdue change. O’Connor emerged off the bench not Kissock or Watkins. Eventually Kissock came on with quarter of hour left, Watkins a paltry ten minutes should have started. No discussion required. If O’Connor is plan B, well would prefer Ben Drew himself to play or even his sister Nancy.

If neither Watkins or Kissock doesn’t start against Barrow unless there is a reasonable excuse, the dressing room wall at York isnt the only thing which needs punching. Not by me though, Im lover not a fighter.

If Brabin needs a hand picking the team for Saturday. Im happy to help, you can’t beat doing your bit for the less fortunate members of our society, can you? Keane at centre half ahead of the currently hapless Antwi, Watkins to partner Hand in the middle, stick AMS up front with Fleetwood then give Kissock a role out wide, with license to roam. No need to thank me. But do it, please.

Or Beckwith with Kovacs ( problem unless Barrow’s forwards have more pace than a asthmatic tortoise), Keane full back. But that will never happen, as it’s too obvious. Football is a simple game, don’t be clever, select your best players in their best positions when possible and it gives you a better chance. It’s still early days, but the margin for error is extremely small.

The lawless Lawless is obviously a massive loss, missed his ability on the ball and to bring the ball out of deep areas. Although hopefully he could use his time off wisely, by getting the rest of his hair cut and shave that beard, he does look like Baldrick from Black Adder. All our play was in front of a massed ranked light blue shirts, but a succesion of passes backward , sideways, going nowhere until we lost it often when Cambridge hadn’t pressed the ball. The more we had the ball, the less we looked like finding an orange shirt.

The first half was ok, nothing special, some good moves but never looked like scoring. Better football, but Fleetwood had to go wide to get the ball, so on a number of times, a ball flashed across goal, no one gambled by making a run in the box.

Cambridge, you can see why they have an excellent defensive record. Very well organised. Difficult to break down, but impossible when you have not one ounce of creavity in the centre of the park. Whilst we scored from a short corner against Lincoln, mainly through the quick feet of Kissock. Do we really have to repeat it every corner, with the same outcome of playing the ball deep into Kovacs at the back post. Ten out of ten for predictability.

Willmott was the most likely source of creativity, raw pace left Roberts standing, but after doing the hard work, his crossing let him down. Too often, crosses were sent in line with the penalty area. Making life easy for Coulson and McAuley to clear, with Shaw sweeping in front of them. All of the named trio, did expertly, but we made it easy for them.

First half was relatively even. Cambridge looked to pass it, not time waste as much as some of our visitors tend to do, they even bought some empty seats dressed as football fans. Whjat are these away fans in the Oak Road you speak of? It was fairly open but few chances credited. Apart from a brilliant save by Tyler to deny Shaw, diverted behind for a corner to stop a sure goal with a shot like a kicking horse. How often does that man bail us out of trouble? A wonderful goalkeeper. How he isn’t playing at least two divisions higher, is frankly a disgrace.

Winn opened up the play, with a pass across the field, Carew’s centre was easily gathered by Tyler. Our first chance, came from Willmott who intially looked bright against his former colleagues, but then blendered into the murky waters of of the mundane fare on show. His wicked inswinging cross, was well cleared by the strecthing red headbanded McAuley , reaching his leg out ahead of Crow. Willmott working space for Fleetwood to get the better of Roberts, his low centre was completely missed by Coulson, but no-one was there for a tap in. The most likey suspect would have been Fleetwood, but he was the provider.

Willmott cutting onto his right, delivered a teasing ball, Crow flicked the ball away from naisbatt who got down, to palm the ball away, AMS could only manage to fire the ball wide. Not one of his better games either, he look anxious, snatching at the ball, it’s time now for AMS and Fleetwood to try to forge a partnership.

A fine pass by Dance, dummied by Crow, Fleetwood look surprised to receive the ball, leaning back, smashed the ball into the scoreboard. Carew clearly leaned into Howells, but as often is the case the officials choose what they wished to see. A free kick, was returned by Shaw only for Coulson to thump a header at Tyler, with the linesman waving his flag.

An unusually fine pass by Kovacs, one of the players to come out of the game with some credit, hooked a crossfield pass, to AMS a lovely take, continued his run into the area, denied by another block from McAuley.

Cambridge were looking comfortable, both forwards Gash and Berry got through plenty of running, they started to get on top., Coulson and Carew combined for Jarvis to tickle a shot at Tyler. Fleewood dragged a shot after another good pass by Kovacs. Almost a good interchange of passing Crow and AMS was repelled by astute reading of the game by McAuley.

We needed a change at half time, followed by one say a quarter of an hour in, if nothing had improved. We lack a bit of quality around the box, although the performance took a turn for the worse after the break. Keane could only clear a poorly hit Winn corner back to him, returned with interest, Berry, allowed the space to hit a powerful drive from the angle, which Tyler did superbly to get anything on the ball at the near post. The same forward Berry should have done an awful lot better than miss the target after Antwi, now playing like a nervous wreck, after a decent start to the season, must be dropped for his and the team’s benefit, failed to cut out Jennings’ lofted pass over the top.

We never got started, lacked a leader to drive us forward, someone could have have competently shifted the ball would have done. Cambridge did look a threat going forward, Jennings short free kick, played over Winn’s shoulder to slam a centre across goal.A horrible sliced clearance by Howells failing to deal with Roberts’ cross, fell to Shaw unexpectedly, could only sliced the ball wide.

Finally a change came, O’Connor rather than Kissock or Watkins come on for Crow, whose final touch, was to lazily curl a shot, high into the Kenilworth End. Crow’s confidence like many of his team mates has vanished quickly. After his performances since joining, to be honest would have preferred Pilkington the gloves or Edward to come on up front than O’Connor.

Soon after Cambridge took the lead, a goal which had been coming for twenty minutes or so. A looping high ball played in by Coulson , McAuley peeled off to get on Dance’s shoulder, sending a soaring header in over Tyler into the top corner.

At this stage, we had gone mentally. No one could grab the game by the throat. Cambridge’s high work rate, meant we were reduced to knocking the ball about unconvincing around in the central area of the field. Very little width, when the ball was played out wide, it was usually too well struck to be kept in.

Ryan Charles appeared, unfortunately most of our players had the vision of Ray Charles. It was painful viewing. Apart from a few hopeful crosses into the box, Keane just to high for O’Connor, then AMS exchanging passes with Howells, but quickly got blocked off by three Cambridge defenders, smashed his drive yards high and wide.

Kissock replaced Willmott, whilst Willmott was getting frustated, at 1-0 down you need as many attacking options as possible on the field. Eventually we went back to 433/451. Midfield three of Keane, Watkins and Kissock, with AMS and O’Connor out wide, offering little support to Fleetwood.

Kissock at least showed for the ball, on a night where few players had the courage to go out and seek it. Both both and he watkins were on for so little time, they made little impact on the game. At last we got teh ball wide, but dance and Howells wasted deliveries from a promising angles. AMS lashed over, when Cambridge switched off from Keane’s low poorly directed corner. Then was still enough time for Keane to floor Jarvis and move closer to yet another suspension.

Lots of work to do done before Barrow come down on Saturday. Everyone employed by the club, needs to work doubly hard to turn around the recent results. As performances like the second half are totally unacceptable. We have players to turn this dip around, but whilst I appreciate Brabin isn’t a wordsmith, mumbling it was frustating in his voice like he was been inhaling Helium balloons does make the situation slightly more than frustating, trust me. For all my moaning ( even more than usual), we have to stick with Brabin. Can’t keep sacking managers every five minutes. His results record is very good, even allowing for the fact we are in the Conference.

Mark Tyler 7.5 , James Dance 5 , Will Antwi 4 , Janos Kovacs 7.25, Jake Howells 6.5 , Amari Morgan-Smith 6.5, Keith Keane 5.5, Jamie Hand 4.5 ( Adam Watkins), Robbie Willmott 6 ( John- Paul Kissock) , Danny Crow 4.5 ( Aaron O’Connor 4.5), Stuart Fleetwood 6 .

Subs not used – Edward Asafu-Adjaye, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – Keane .

Cambridge – Naisbett, Roberts, Coulson, McAuley, Jennings, Carew, Shaw, Jarvis,Winn( Dunk), Berry, Gash ( Charles) Booked – Roberts –

*THE DISCLAIMER* The above ratings were picked on a whim and very rarely are an accurate reflection on the player’s performances simply to annoy the reader. Today’s fatuous comments about Carlos Tevez. Apart from the fact the operation to replace his face with the buttocks of a dead person wasn’t really a good look . Would love to be paid thousands of pounds per week, just to say ” I don’t really fancy playing football tonight” Quite brilliant. Modern football, a sport that attracts the finest, humblest people to play the game, doing it for the love it. How unlike an Argentinan to have a dodgy attitude.

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One point in nine…

…is not good enough. I’m beginning to lose the faith. I’m still going to games, but my belief is dwindling. The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak.

We were out-thought and outplayed for the second game running. Cambridge who came with little ambition were the better side. We weren’t without chances or intent. But Cambridge knew how we were going to play and did a job on us, tactically. It was eminently reminiscent of the Stevenage defeat on the corresponding Tuesday exactly two years ago, but without the blatant cheating.

As an aside, strangely, our record two years ago was P12 W6 D3 L3 F17 A12 Pts 21 – now it is P12 W5 D5 L2 F19 A12 Pts 20. To think poor Mick lost his job – puts it in context doesn’t it? But big Mick was playing uninspiring football and was being tactically outdone when he had a superior team (rings a bell!). To be fair his team had recently battled bravely to win by one goal when down to ten men (sound familiar?). Though he had just lost 3-0 away from home a week before (This is getting spooky. I’d better move on).

Fair play to Cambridge, they weren’t a dirty team, didn’t come to cheat, didn’t stay down, didn’t break up the play, and time wasted no more than we would in their situation. Fair play to their fans who brought more I suspect that all of the other teams visiting this year so far put together. Whilst we had more room in the first half, and created some half decent chances, starting very brightly, in the second half they closed us down completely with all but one man (and usually him too) behind the ball and the only place to go was long, ranging balls into space on the wings, which invariably either were too long, or resulted in the play going backwards because there was little or no space to play the ball into.

I was surprised by the starting XI – it struck me that Brabin was trying to play his favoured XI rather than the best XI in the formation he wanted to play in.

If a team is struggling with a bit of confidence, and you have lost your creative player in the middle of midfield (eg Alex Lawless aka ‘the plasterers friend’) then is the best tactic to play two similar players in midfield eg Keano and Hand? A sparkle of Watkins or Kissock would have undoubtedly have been better in my opinion, with Keane at RB and James Dance missing out initially, or even Dance on the wing AMS on the left and Willmott missing out. Or even Willmott and Dance on the wings and Big Hips Danny Crow missing out with AMS in the middle. The possibilities were endless – but when you need creativity and goals to keep Kissock on the bench until 13 minutes to go strikes me as a little strange.

Of our players tonight, I thought that Kovacs had the best game. He looked solid and confident, whilst Antwi certainly wobbled at times, mostly when passing out from defence- his defensive work, other than an obvious error in the first half was sound.

The ref this evening was a pleasant change from the clowns we have seen at the Kenny thus far this year. Unusually for a non-league ref, he didn’t want to be the centre of attention and bizarrely thought that we had come to watch the footie and not him. He won’t be long for this division I can tell you. He did make one howler when Keano was impeded/clobbered and awarded the decision to the Cambridge player, but none of us are perfect.

There was a rather peculiar couple of incidents in the first half – firstly I think AMS went down under a challenge in their box at the far end. Suddenly a yellow bibbed member of staff dashed from the sidelines to attend to him, but it wasn’t the physio, but a steward. Peculiar as it had nothing to do with the steward, and he was on the pitch in any case. And by the time he got there AMS was back up again. Seconds later Stuart Fleetwood decided to launch himself over the hoardings behind to goal and into the crowd; presumably to garner a similar level of attention from the luminously clad official.

One of the players in the heart of the Cambridge defence sported a red headband, and looked like a crap Dennis Lillee. He wasn’t the tallest of centre halves, but didn’t need to be as he only had Fleetwood and Crow to keep an eye on. Fortunately, Tyler, as ever, chose to throw more than he kicked, but he did put in his usual one-a-game ‘enclosure exocet’ to keep those brave souls at the front of the main stand on their toes. He did make one fantastic save from Shaw in the first half tipping it over with his left hand, whilst diving full stretch to his right.

Their keeper our old friend Naisbitt should have been put under more pressure. I can’t recall him having to make a proper save after the opening quarter of an hour. However had he been put under more pressure I suspect he might have given us something. Whilst his confidence grew during the game, in the first half his decision making, kicking and positioning were all over the shop. Whilst we could have played another 90 minutes and still not got a goal, if we had been ruthless in the first half of the first half it would have been game over.

I think it would sum up the previous week well if you think of the Lincoln, Bath and York results as being the good, the bad and the ugly. I thought tonight’s game was going to pop us back onto the rails. We needed to win, and win well to restore our confidence. But it wasn’t to be. We now have to look to the Barrow game to restore our faith. I think I feel like a young bride who has caught her hubby playing away. The faith has been broken. It’s going to take more than a win against Barrow for me to forget about the last three results. It is always going to be in the back of my mind until sufficient time passes, and results significantly improve before the current trend becomes a temporary blip. In my mind LTFC are currently on probation and I am taking it one game at a time. My tired old heart is nearly spent. There’s only so much unconditional love I can give.

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Bloody York

Bloody York, I’m sick of them – that’s a very long return journey for a 3-0 away defeat in non-league.

Not too many pluses to have from that performance – all I can say is that we’d better turn it around on Tuesday…

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (York away)

A stark reality check today, after the first meeting of the season against serious promotion candidates. Best to start with the positives…erm… it wasn’t cold, we drew the second half, but for Reed not taking two perfectly presentable chances it could have been five before the break. The Yorkshire-Bedfordshire chip on the shoulder trophy is an overrated pot anyway.

No excuses, the team who looked sharper, more up for it and played the better football won. York look a very good side, certain to be in the mix, however we were well par below. Our defence was always likely to implode somewhere horrendously along the line and today was the day.

Discipline needs to be looked at within the club far more strongly. Sorry for banging on about it all season, but nothing will happen. Admittedly, referees at this level are a law until themselves, which doesn’t help, but the three players who were booked today, all for reckless tackles, two of whom when the game was dead. Not buying the frustration excuse. It’s stupidity. Lawless picked up his fourth caution, but now injured with a broken hand ( no relation to Jamie) apparently punching the dressing room ( the phrase ” just because we’re losing” springs to mind) , if true , an alarming lack of self control for a grown up, with Fleetwood I think being on the same number. So they are close to a ban. With a a small squad to pick for at present, we have a potentially promising, emerging young team. But this continued collection of bookings needs to stop now. It will have a serious effect on the team unless cut out immediately. Getting stuck in is fine, hacking down players randomly, you are asking for trouble. At times ice cool calm are needed far more than passion, which is just an over used excuse for losing the plot.

Brabin opted for a change of tactic today. Picking Kissock in the hole just behind Fleetwood. Would have preferred him to match up with York’s formation, as our matches with them have been increasingly feisty affairs, vital to get on top in midfield. Hand and Lawless got outnumbered by York’s trio. Brabin eventually switched the team again, too late the damage was done by then, just before the break. Most of his tactical punts have been spot on, this one not. In the second half, when it was like for like, it was a more even(ish) game.

Think GB is still caught between two stools in how to get the best from Kissock but not at the detriment of the team. Kissock playing there is certainly an option, but not in one of the harder away games. Willmott has been off form for a few games now and Dance, who seems to operate better at full back than right wing, could have been omitted in his favour.

York, like most sides managed by Gary Mills are a combative lot. Can mix it physically, but play some neat, thoughtful football, and use the counter attack well, even as the home side. continuely rotating the their three forwards. We never got to grips on them or their midfield during the first half.

With Keane returning at full back. The team today was Tyler, back four of Keane, Kovacs, Antwi ( who had an absolute nightmare, hardly kicked a ball in the first half, without shanking it and that’s even if he made contact. George Pilkington in a wheelchair would have done better today), Kovacs and Howells. Four across the midfield Dance, Lawless, Hand, Willmott, with Fleetwood up front, doing plenty of ball chasing to no avail, with Kissock behind him.

It was cagey start, but York gradually took control, with the extra man in midfield gaining them a significat advantage, which is where the match was lost. Bouchard and Kerr, getting through an awful lot of work, allowing McLaughlin a free role, which through good movement he was rarely picked up.

Ingham in the York goal was not gainfully employed for long periods, but from a swerving Dance cross, which just missed Fleetwood, he had to make an awkward collection. York took the lead with the first shot on target, to be honest it was a corking strike from Chambers. McLaughlin in space shifted the ball to his right, finding Chambers, given time by Howells to set himself up before smashing the ball past Tyler into the corner of the net.

In truth we never recovered or looked likely to get back into the game after conceding this early goal. Kerr’s lofted pass over the top, Antwi didn’t get clear control on the ball with a header, which fell invitedly for Reed, with Tyler coming out of goal, missed the target with his lob. Class keeping from Tyler, once again shocking defending from Antwi not cutting out Bouchard’s threaded pass, Reed with plenty of time, perhaps too time , could only smash the ball into Tyler’s legs.

With Hand and Lawless being given the runaround, not helped by the lack of support from their colleagues. There is no service to our forwards, McGurk and the very tall Fyfield although competent were hardly tested. About as good as it got thus far, was after Fyfield was penalised for a foul on Fleetwood, Howells inswinging free kick , was nodded wide by Kovacs, losing balance whilst doing so. Our best piece of football, came from excellent awareness by Tyler, throwing the ball long out to Willmott on the break beating Challinor through sheer pace, running across the field, Fyfield got a long leg to the ball, but it fell kindly for Lawless to stride pass Meredith but his deep centre was a waste.

Just when we had weathered the storm of York running riot and getting a slight foothold , the hosts doubled their money. Kerr sending a raking pass out to the right, where Challinor, having a good game as an attacking full back, rolled the ball out to Reed on the right, running at Howells, the centre was deflected into Walker was swept home clinically, which was utterly predictable. Credit to him though for showing class by not celebrating his goal, that would have only inflamed matters.

An excellent move between Howells and Willmott down our left, shifted the ball into Fleetwood, nice and turn and wasn’t far wide of Ingham’s far post, with a strike which curled inches wide.

Another poor goal conceded summed up the diffrence in both boxes between the sides, York allowed to pick their way through to Walker on the left, unchallanged to square the ball to the unmarked Chambers to shin in the third on the half volley.

O’Connor was waiting to come on before the third goal and duly replaced Kissock. At the break Watkins came on for Lawless, who with a stricter referee could have seen red for a wild challange on Challinor. For an excellent skilful player, the red old mist comes down at times and he turns into a nutter.

Although it was far too little too late, the team had a better shape about it in the second half, and restricted York to far fewer opportunities. Dance went to right back, Keane joining Hand and Watkins in the middle. With O’Connor and Willmott on the flanks supporting the lonely Fleetwood.

Chambers looking for his hat trick fired miles wide of the goal, after Merdith and Reed had created the opening. Keane almost found Fleetwood, but for a vital interception by Meredith. Fleetwood gaining a yard of space near the by-line, centred for Hand running onto the ball, unmarked could only side footed the bar out of the ground.

Walker, after Reed’s neat pass, beat Tyler but not the woodwork, with a fine chipped effort. To be fair to the team, we kept going, and didn’t give up, but it was one of those days, Im afraid, little went right.

Willmott nutmegging the ball through Challinor, got down the line, only to look like he had been brushed aside by McGurk. Willmoot does go down easily, the referee gave a goal kick. Either Willmott got nudged or dived, goal kick was the most unlikely scenario.

Howells made a forceful run into the box, leaving the newly arrived Adriano for dead, thumped a shot towards the near post, which Ingham saved, despite the fact the ball looked be heading wide. From the resulting short corner Kovacs headed firmly into Ingham’s hands from O’Connor’s centre.

Earlier a stray elbow from Kovacs caught Chambers, throwing himself to the ground in agony, but the poor mite, summed up enough strength to arise off the floor and push Kovacs in the chest. You really were badly hurt, weren’t you, dear?

Chances were being created at both ends, Bouchard playing the ball out to Chambers, low cross, scopped over by Walker. O’Connor fell over by Kerr for good effect he decide to roll over a good half dozen times. Willmott fizzed the free kick, just over the bar.

Crow, unlucky to be left out, replaced Fleetwood. The introduction of two new wide players Adriano and Blair saw York finish off the stronger. Challinor gallopping down the line, playing in Walker to centre , Antwi hacking clear before the ball reached Blair.

Walker replaced to a standing ovation, he did have a very good match. He’s a reasonable forward at this level, if he wanted to leave , that’s his progative but to tell the manager by text message, is the action of someone very weak. As Brabin at least gave him a regular starting slot.

Challinor’s pot shot, after being found by McLaughlin didn’t test Tyler. We have a couple more attempts, hand collecting Fyfield’s erratic pass drove a Ingham, who also collected Keane’s curling strike from outside the box.

Anyway, all best forgotten. Two back to back home games to erase the second half in Bath and the first half of this game. Althoiugh Cambridge are running in to a bit of form, must be R.Jarvis the whirling dervish himself doing it solo handed ( in more ways than one). Bouncebackability they call it, if it goes well. If it all goes wrong is it fookupability?

Mark Tyler 6, Keith Keane 7 , Will Antwi 3 , Janos Kovacs 4.5, Jake Howells 5 , James Dance 6, Jamie Hand 5.5 , Alex Lawless 6 ( Adam Watkins 6.5), Robbie Willmott 5.5 , John-Paul Kissock 5 ( Aaron O’Connor 4) , Stuart Fleetwood 6 ( Danny Crow) .

Subs not used – Edward Asafu-Adjaye, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – Lawless, Willmott, Keane.

York – Ingham, Challinor, McGurk, Fyfield, Meredith, Kerr, Bouchard, McLaughlin, Chambers( Blair), Reed( Adriano), Walker ( Henderson. Booked – McGurk.


*THE DISCLAIMER* The above ratings were picked on a whim and very rarely are an accurate reflection on the player’s performances simply to annoy the reader. Today’s fatuous comments about my own tacticality naivety. First driving through York, stuck in traffic. Tourists taking photographs at York Minister. Yes, it’s nice enough, but were they surprised seeing York Minster in York. What were they expecting the hanging gardens of Babylon?

Now I hate football phone ins, but was waiting for the news…as the general public shouldn’t be allowed their opinion to be voiced, mainly the ones who phone in on any subject. Great call from a York chap, the usual banal cliches, self reflected glory etc etc. He was asked who were the better team York played… Luton or Wrexham. His answer was Wrexham, but in the same sentence said he didn’t go to the Wrexham vs York game. Erm….Trust he was being looked after by someone.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Bath away)

Another excellent report from PDW:

In a match played in incessant rain, the result proved a damp squib. Our second half performance was far too timid, cautious, lacking urgency playing like a team who expected something to happen, rather than making it do so. The Bath team deserve credit for fighting hard and not going down with a whimper. Crab like possession football is all well and good, however at 1-0 up in difficult conditions, with the ball like soggy potato on not the flattest of surfaces, it is resting on your laurels somewhat. Too slow getting the ball forward against a team who struggled when being turned back towards their goal, only when O’Connor replaced Dance as our umpteenth right back this season, did anyone look to run at their defence and causes problems in the second half, he dug out some excellent crosses, but would have been better advised to hit crosses hard and low, with little height there to hit in the middle.

Having said all that, only a wonderful performance in goal by Garner making half a dozen agile saves prevented Bath being deluged by a shower of goals. It wasn’t a disimilar match to the one at Woking against Hayes and Yeading last month, first half played some good stuff, but second half failed to perform.

A self inflicted concession of two points, which balances out the win against Lincoln given the circumstances. As a team we tended to over play, a combination of complanency or over confidence, only Hand showed for the ball, as the defence seemed content to pass the ball amongst themselves. If we have started the second half, quickly, shifting the ball around with pace, better movement off the ball and went for them with the postive attitude we have usually played with since Brabin took over, gone further ahead by another goal or two, as their confidence must be brittle after their wretched start to the campaign , then we could have taken our foot off the gas and played out time, maybe withdrawing key players to avoid the risk of injuries.

As often is the case, Bath played better with ten than eleven players, if they had put that sort of effort into every game, they would’t be bottom of the pile. Or is piles in their bottom? Stonehouse’s dismissal came very late, so they weren’t playing with nine men for long, five minutes if that.

Two changes from the Lincoln win, Kovacs and Kissock in for Beckwith and Willmott. Kovacs on his second debut was commanding in the air, no real pace against him so that’s a bonus. The hosts were rarely an attacking force, but overall considering his lack of first team football this season, it was a perfectly sound performance.

Kissock did alter the balance of side, playing on the left, coming in field to receive possession on many occasions , was involved in plenty of our better moments, however it did leave Howells having to cover a lot of ground on the left wing. Ideally, would be best to give Kissock a free central role, leaving more cover behind him. On the opposite side AMS was causing havoc for the Bath defence, three times in the space of a few minutes he was brought down in similiar positions by Clough, Jones and Stonehouse respectively.

We attacked down the slope (the shallow end) during the first half. Plenty of possession, but the final ball let us down. Kissock, Howells, AMS and Fleetwood featured promimently, although Fleetwood’s mobility was effected being on the wrong end of a heavy tackle from behind by Clough.

Bath played like an away team, trying to soak up pressure and playing on the break, with the pace of Swallow gobbling up the ground, they did have an outlet, using Canham as a quarterback looking to feed the ball out to the left wing. Tyler was no more than a drenched spectactor than the poor sods behind the goal on the open terrace. Why Bath couldn’t have sectioned off some terracing in the covered stand given the weather was poor.

Clever backheel by Fleetwood, a quick change of feet by Kissock decieved Clough, he tried his luck with a low strike, worth it in slipperly conditions, but Garner got down to cover. Swallow’s cross was cleared by Howells, only to drop to Connelly slipping over in the process of shooting.

We continued to press playing some neat football but the shooting didn’t match the quality of build up play, AMS and Kissock’s efforts ended up nearer Chippenham than the goal.

AMS was getting in this stride, causing Stonehouse, no slouch himself, plenty of problems with his direct running, winning three free kicks, all fairly central on the edge of the box. Kissock lost his footing whilst taking the set piece, screwing the shot tamely wide.

Burnell, the four hundred and eighty two year old veteran, should have done better with a free header from Stonehouse’s corner, after Swallow’s drive had been deflected behind.

AMS running on from Howells’ pass fired wide across goal, and was in the thick of action during this part of the game, after a mazy run beating Clough and Jones, but grounded by Stonehouse. This time he elected to hit the free kick, with power and curve, Garner pulled off an extremely good block to his left. He had another attempt from a free kick, soon, but this was a weak attempt easily gathered.

Fleetwood rolled the ball out to the channel out to Crow, but a well timed tackle by Simpson recovered the situation before Crow could shoot. Swallow, fed by Connelly , not for the first time before allowed to continue his run by a linesman yards behind play, cut past Dance, aiming for the far corner , almost a good pass but Phillips was unable to get anything on it.

Howells was brought down by Clough right on the touchline line, although Jones carried on the protest well after the half time, the home team were overlooking the fact that Clough had committed five or six poorly timed challanges, previously.

Before Bath could properly reorganise at the break, through a fantastic piece of sublime play by Fleetwood turning his back back to goal, curling a shot, which swerved through the air, Garner couldn’t get a glove on the ball, it brushed against the post, AMS was on hand to lift the ball over Garner and give us the lead.

After half time, the wily Burnell moved back to defence, Hogg coming on as another body on midfield replacing Agdestein who was on the quiet side of anomymous. So just the hard working Phillips to hit as a forward option. The changes help Bath, who started the better. For whatever reason.

Burnell broke up the attacks, shifted the ball to Connelly, played the ball to Swallow, failing to trouble Tyler. Bath then had their best spell of pressure, winning a standing ovation from their fans, when Phillips played the ball off Howells, from it Phillips should have done a whole lot better than flick a header over from close range. The corner taker Canham fired wide as well following a Hogg knock down.

An exquisite lofted ball by Lawless, found Fleetwood in plenty of pace, but poor control denied him an opportunity. O’Connor replaced Dance at full back. But due to our lack or urgency, the momentum was lost in our play, only rediscovered when Bath levelled matters.

A clever reverse pass by AMS to the overlapping O’Connor drilling in a centre which was high for Kissock to get a touch. With Bath keeping nine men behind the ball, and us content to pass the ball around mundanely going knowhere quickly, it was hardly riveting stuff.

Howells galloping forward onto’s Kissock’s pass, finding Fleetwood, Garner holding onto the ball at the second attempt. Bath equalised , with Kissock losing the ball in our half. As good a player as he is, he does need to learn when to be clever and went to play basic football. Losing out to Hogg, a low pass swept forward into Swallow beating Antwi, low shot, parried out by Tyler but only as far as Phillips to jubilantly tap in the rebound.

That goal at least awoke us from our coma like state. Kissock trying to make amends for his mistake, skipped past Simpson and Connolly, sending a skimmering shot goalwards, Garner did superbly to get down and push it away.

Kissock departed sooner after along with Crow, replacing by Willmott and Samuel. Can’t say I know much about Samuel apart from he’s obviously enjoyed his Summer or actively enjoys smuggling people up his shirt. He was hardly involved, but best to judge him when he’s got his fitness back. Unless he’s like that all the time!

Like the Gypsies in Stockwood Park, we took a seize upon Bath’s goal. Willmott bringing some much needed pace, and direct approach to our play. O’Connor lifted another cross into the box, with no orange shirt able to get the ball. AMS nodded wide from a Willmott corner, Fleetwood being denied by Jones’ chest.

Samuel brought down on the edge of the box was a second yellow card for Stonehouse, meaning that Scott Murray had a Fotiadis/Kandol moment, a sub being subbed after being on the field little more than ten minutes, as Preece another big defender was brought on.

As time ticked down, Samuel nudged the ball into Willmott’s path finding Hand, a stinging shot from the outside of the box was brillantly turn away by Garner. There was enough time for AMS to pick up his fifth caution after a disagreement with Hogg. His consistency in goal scoring is matched by needless bookings. In fairness, a number of them were harshly awarded.

A poor result no point trying to hide it and it’s encouraging Brabin hasn’t either, but if it kills the mass hysteria which increasingly effects some of our bi-polar like fan base it won’t be a bad thing. When we string a few wins together against woeful opposition suddenly we are world beaters, one poor result it becomes does anyone know the way to Beachy Head?

Good test on Saturday, to see where this emerging team is actually at against a decent York team, who are bound to be in the mix, managed by a bloke who knows all the tricks of the trade. Although it’s a four way tie for leadership of the League, it’s nice to be on top, unbeaten, with lots of injuries/suspensions and not hit top gear for any prolonged spell in matches. If we can return from York unscathed, got back to back home matches to maintain our position. Regardless of last night’s result, there are still far more postives than negatives about the team presently.

Mark Tyler 6, James Dance 6 ( Aaron O’Connor 7) , Will Antwi 5.5 , Janos Kovacs 7.25 Jake Howells 7.5 , Amari Morgan-Smith 8 , Jamie Hand 7.5, Alex Lawless 6.5, John Paul-Kissock 7 (Robbie Willmott) , Danny Crow 6 ( Collin Samuel) , Stuart Fleetwood 6.5 .

Subs not used – Adam Watkins, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – Morgan-Smith.

Bath – Garner, Simpson, Stonehouse, Jones, Clough, Burnell, Canham, Connolly, Swallow, Agdestein (Hogg ), Phillips (Murray then replaced by Preece ).

Booked – Clough ( x2), Jones, Stonehouse (x2), Phillips.

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Imp-ressive win against the twelve men

Two more sent off at the Kenny, and the first one was another game changer. When Beckwith got his marching orders it enraged the crowd, who got completely behind the team and lifted and drove the players on. We were a better team as ten men. We created more chances and Fleetwood’s 84th minute winner was nothing more than we deserved. Such is the spirit of the side, we fought like cornered tigers because we had to. No one likes us, but we don’t care.

Everyone says referees have a hard job to do. Today’s ref had a hard job not to show that he had put money on Lincoln. Some of his decisions were hard to understand others made it look as if he didn’t know what he was doing. His booking of Adam Watkins was unfathomable. Watkins won the ball in the middle fair and square, he was first to it. He made great effort to play and win the ball. The other player jumped over/into him. It wasn’t even a foul, let alone a booking.

This week’s hate figure was the overweight Sunday park-player and oxygen-thief Kyle Perry. A big lump, his bulk more than made up for his complete lack of footballing talent. He was frighteningly untalented. Poor, poor Lincoln and Steve Tilson. Things must be bad when all they have to chose from is a player that poor. All he had was his bulk, because he was dispossessed readily when he had the ball at his feet and, when presented with two headed chances managed to head over both times, when missing the target was more difficult. But he was not the boo boy because he was fat, slow and shit, but because of Beckwith’s sending off.

Beckwith was sent off half way through the first half. At the time we were on top, but not dominating. Don’t get me wrong, without the sending off we would have still won, but it did galvanise us in a way we have not been galvanised for a long time. I think we would have died a death and used it as an excuse under Richard Money.

I didn’t see the incident, but I did witness the reaction of the crowd (exasperation, astonishment
and anger – but I guess you’d expect that) and strangely, the reaction of Beckwith.

Let’s examine the facts. Normally (and you see it on MoTD every week) when a player has elbowed a fellow pro, and been caught in the act, he stands in front of the ref, makes a token open mouthed “who me?” protest and accepts his fate with a dismissive gesture. Not Dean Beckwith – his reaction, which was basically to go mental at Kyle Perry and to start on him, hinted that he was genuinely aggrieved at the player’s decision to drop to the floor as if shot (frankly, this afternoon he was lucky he wasn’t) and writhe around as if protecting his face from feasting sharks. Now, I know players like Nico or Alan White would react in the same way as Beckwith, even if they were guilty as hell, but I am concluding that perhaps Perry made a bit of a meal of it. I know they were jostling, awating the incoming free kick, and I know often this can get a bit physical, perhaps Beckwith threw out an elbow trying to wriggle free and glanced Perry. I don’t know. Hopefully Basmati’s video on youtube will show it. Then I got thinking. Isn’t this the same big lump who fell over and made a meal of it back in March when he was playing for Tamworth? Yes! He’s got form. He likes getting centre halves sent off by collapsing when an elbow comes near. Now, I am rubbish at names and opposing players – but I think I saw him before as well. Mansfield was it? He did the same thing then. I think he might even have got on the score sheet for us at some point, such is his footballing prowess.

What it does mean is that one of the few fit defenders we do have is now suspended for three games and probably will get a kick up the backside for his troubles from the manager.

Without a defender on the bench, it meant that our already patchwork back four had to be patched up further. With Keane not recovered from the karate kick he received on Tuesday (Perry – please note, Keano was really hurt, but did not make a fuss) and Ed AA suspended, we had The Shadow James Dance, the winger, at right back, Antwi and Beckwith in the middle and Jake at left back. With Beckwith gone, Jamie Hand, who had returned in the holding role converted into centre half.

The reaction to the ref, who was already on the back foot, was predictable and expected. I notice he received a few words of advice and left the field to deafening boos at the end of the first half.

And what of our back four today? Dance started tentatively, but grew in confidence and by the end had had a game he could be proud of. Antwi, despite his heroic efforts towards the end, actually had a technically poor game. Clearance after clearance was sliced or muffed. Passes missed, etc. Against better teams he will be punished. Today, despite the mistakes he worked really hard at the heart of defence, his effort and commitment wholly unquestionable. Jamie Hand was a revelation too. A couple of early errors and a positional mistake didn’t undermine his confidence and he grew from strength to strength and gave his all. He was marking the big lump Perry, whilst Antwi was marking the smaller McCullum. Jake too had a good game, linking up well with Fleetwood and Willmott down the left and got in a couple of good, but not quite perfect crosses, which were cut out.

Surprising we were up against it – although yes, we were up against Lincoln, we did really well to keep the third clean sheet on the trot. Makeshift defence or not, they worked hard to keep Lincoln out.

Speaking of McCullum, that clean sheet would never had occurred if he had an inkling as to where the goal was. Bearing in mind, he was actually playing as a striker, I think he swapped his shooting boots for those of a left-back. Thank goodness he was woeful.

This game highlighted the gulf between teams at the foot of the division above and the teams at the top of this division. They plummeted like a stone last season and have continued where they left off last year. I don’t know if they have serious financial problems or what, but they were a poor team. Unusually for an away team, they didn’t play 4-5-1 or indeed time waste from the off, or just come for the draw: they tried to attack with purpose, and the idea and application was there it was just the technique and ability on the ball which was absent. They came with the right idea and with better players would have given us a run for our money, ceteris paribus.

Fleetwood got the goal with about five minutes to go. Boy did he work hard this afternoon. He is just what we needed. He is able to hold the ball up, to distribute pretty well, to run off the ball and when he receives the ball runs directly to the goal, without passing go. He also has the strikers knack of popping up in the right place to get on the end of a cross and isn’t afraid to get stuck in. In short, all of the ingredients we were missing. He is also cunningly short enough to ensure that he isn’t seen as a route one get out – an excuse to pump the ball up to him.

After the break, we did actually play more directly for a while, before the players eased back into their comfort zone of passing the ball neatly to feet. Bearing in mind we were actually down to 10 men, I expected the chances to be few and far between. Anything but. On another day we could easily have had 3 or 4. Fleetwood could have had a hat trick. He had clear one-on-ones with their keeper Anyon on at least two occasions, as well as a plenty of other half chances. Anyon earnt his crust today, he was called on to make plenty of saves – and I think Fleetwood also hit the bar too.

Watkins replaced Danny Crow at half time. Crow had dropped into midfield after the sending off. What an impressive, busy player Watkins is. Always wanting the ball, always looking to play a one-two or to play in Fleetwood or run at the goal he is a real diamond. He would walk into any other midfield in this division I reckon, and it is bad news for him, but great for the club, that we have players like Lawless and Kissock ahead of him in the queue. Watkins, like Lawless (today’s captain) carved open Lincoln’s midfield quite sublimely.

Ah – now onto our Lionel Messi Jon Paul Kissock. Christ almighty. If he keeps playing like that he’ll be off in January to pasture new. Clearly given free rein by GB to run with the ball and try whatever tricks he fancies he came on for AMS, who wasn’t quite in the game as much as he would have liked this afternoon. He shimmied and dribbled and generally took the mickey out of the lumbering Lincoln midfielders. It was Kissock’s dart into the box, from a short corner (who said short corners never work?) and subsequent cross across the face of the goal which allowed Fleetwood to poke it in. I can see now why Brabin isn’t starting with him. He doesn’t need to. He can cause chaos in the opposing half for half an hour as a flair storm trooper. One of these days, it will all click with Kissock, Fleetwood, AMS, Lawless et al and the eight goals against Hayes and the four in seven minutes against Southport will seem like a tawdry 0-0 in comparison. Some poor team is really going to cop it as some point this year.

O’Connor, who hasn’t had the impact I am sure we would like, came on for Willmott, who had a quieter second half and wasn’t quite as incisive as usual. O’Connor didn’t quite get himself up to speed for the situation and missed a couple of challenges. He seemed to be chasing the game a bit, rather than imposing himself on it. I’m not sure we quite play the right game for him. I suspect he prefers the ball over the top to run onto so that he can demonstrate his pace. He doesn’t get the chance to do that with us, but it is early days.

The referee evened things up – in terms of sendings off – four minutes into a seven minute extra time, by sending off Nelson for his second yellow card. Fleetwood was played into space and was running down the left wing for the corner flag when Nelson caught him late on the touchline. I felt a bit sorry for him, Fleetwood had been giving him the run around all afternoon and he had been made to look like a chump, save for one outstanding challenge. I am sure the ref was letting the extra time run and run and run to allow Lincoln just one more chance to get his money back. But just like Mickey O’Neill in Snatch they refused to play ball – their woeful finishing ensuring that we stayed one up.

So it was a good game, a loud afternoon, lots of singing, lots of shouting (I have no voice at present) all ratcheted up a few notches courtesy of Stephen Martin the ref and Kyle Perry, both of whom are more likely to be gracing the rec on a Sunday morning in the future rather than the divisions above. I’m so very proud of the team for the effort they all put in today.

Quick scores on the doors:

Tyler 7 (kicking atrocious, saving excellent)
Dance 7.5
Antwi 5.5
Beckwith 6
Howells 7.5
AMS 6
Lawless 8
Hand 8
Willmott 6.5
Crow 6.5
Fleetwood 8.5

O’Connor 6
Kissock 8
Watkins 8

On to Bath on Tuesday. Now they really are in dire straits. Rooted to the bottom, with only 2 points so far their results have been disappointing, but as often as not have been losing by just the odd goal. I suspect they will give us more of a game than we are anticipating. Hopefully Keano will be back to resume his favourite position of centre-half. Hopefully The Shadow will keep his position at right back too. I’ll take a cheeky 1-0 – let’s hope however, that we stamp our class on the game a give them a footballing lesson. Mrs Mosque will be in Singapore, so I will miss yet another away game, however, I will be tucking into a barrel of Sidepocket for a Toad, in her absence.

Mud in your eye.

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PDW’s Kneejerk Reactions (Lincoln home)

With a Nutter on the opposition, it was apt there would be some mayhem this afternoon, not helped a referee ( in the loosest sense of the word) choosing to see what he wished to see and when to turn a blind eye to.

So it proved, an excellent team effort, full of spirit, character and hard work, nosed in front at the death, through a tap in by Fleetwood following a fanastic twinkled toed run by Kissock along the by-line followng a short corner by Watkins.

It was the sort of performance which wins you promotion. Hats off to an ever more depleted defence, just as well we played against a team, who although passed the ball neatly at times, have a chronic inability to score goals. Their finishing was woeful, and that’s being polite. It says an awful lot, about their current state of mind, in the first half, with an extra man time wasting and merely looking to keep the ball.
,
A superb effort to win a game playing over an hour with ten men. Beckwith got suckered into his sending off. Waiting for a deep free kick to be played in, Perry the Lincoln centre forward, who if he lost weight would merely be morbidly obese, grabbed hold of Beckwith, reacting by shoving an elbow towards Perry, which brushed him at most, as often with modern day footballers, they hit the deck quicker than Audley Harrison. Straight red, as soon as you raise your hands you are asking for trouble. Although his reaction by remonstrating with the prone Perry , by grabbing him off the floor, won’t go down well either with the authorities. So Brabin needs to move fast in the loan market for a centre half. As one match you can play players out of position, but three it would be asking an awful lot playing people out of position, esceipally as York away will be one of the harder games this season. Our discipline does need sharpening up, you are going to get bookings for tackles, fair enough, but it’s the silly offences which are inexcusable. With referees, who at times wave play on, after someone’s leg is in pieces, but are only too happy to caution for the most minor offences,

That will be the incident most people will remember. Odd that the referee waved a red card then spoke to the linesman, although out of the multiple bad decisions, thought the one to book Watkins for winning the ball against Sinclair, but then bowling him over in his follow through was the worst. Plenty of other choices.

Perry the brave little soldier , contining after treatment, his lipstick must have smeared. Actually he did well for us, giving people abuse practise before the hatefest at Jason Walker next weekend, missing three headed chances of which all were opportunities of relative ease, but all sailed off his forehead comfortably wide/over of the goal. For good measure, he got booked trying to mount Lawless doggy style. Gimp by name, gimp by nature.

It’s the type of game, we wouldn’t have won under the previous manager. Fair play to Brabin, under him we have always gone out and tried to win games. A number of performances to note, Hand outstanding both in midfield and playing at centre half. Read the game well and organised the players around him well, barely put a foot wrong. Dance, a shaky start at full back, but second half applied himself better got forward well to support the attack. Fleetwood, the amount of running and ground he covered, hassling the Lincoln back line, admittedly , he should have scored earlier with a couple of one on one chances, credit to Anyon though for standing up so long, to narrow the angle. However , his goal ” Johnny on the spot”, he is the kind of forward we have been crying out for absolutely ages. He alone could be the difference between winning it and having another delightful attempt at failing in the play offs.

Two changes from the routine victory at Telford. Dance for the luckless suspended EAA and the unbanned Hand back for Keane, who is fortunate to have two legs still after the Killock assault on Tuesday. So, it meant a place on the bench for the first time for Samuel, who looks bigger than the 5′ 9” it states on Wikipedia. Unlike them to be wrong the facts.

Lincoln are currently riding high on the crest of a slump following their perfectly timed relegation bid in Spring.Unless you have points deductions, you have to unbelievably bad to get relegated out of Division Four. Nelson, a loanee from Bournemouth ( I think), looks a decent prospect and Fuseni got forward well from midfield, apart from that there isn’t much there for them. If you have green and white hoops as an away kit, you will end up playing like Celtic. Although Scotland thankfully gave up playing football years ago. They are far better off as a nation being Heroin addicts on Tenants Super Extra. Then worrying about not qualifying for major or indeed minor Football tournaments.

The game had a scrappy look about from the early stages, fairly even fare. We looked somewhat lethargic, which is something of a worry given the amount of Tuesday night games we have in the upcoming weeks with not many options to pick from.

Overall we went too long too early, trying to use Fleetwood’s pace in behind Lincoln’s back four, as they held a higher line than the majority of sides who come to Luton. The tactic worked a couple of times, but we lacked width and the non existant service to Willmott and AMS rendered them as passengers at times. With a packed midfield, it was very difficult to get through the heart of the visitiors.

The best chance came from a shrewd low forward pass by Lawless, allowing Lawless to skip around Watts, as the keeper came out, he could only poke the ball into Anyon.

Chances were rarer than Cockneys pronoucing aitches. Lincoln hardly forced Tyler into a save in the opening half. Beckwith had to hack clear, from the advancing Fuseni, showing good movemnet off the ball after Russell and Barraclough combined. They were involved again, this time Hand put in a vital block to stop Perry.

Hand pinged a pass forward, there looked little likelyhood , that Fleetwood would keep the ball in play, but he managed to back heel into the direction of Willmott, whipping in a cross which Crow, off balance flicked wide.

Then came the Beckwith v Perry incident. More followed, after the sending off, Anyon taking the free kick quickly towards Nelson, as the defender had his back turned to the ball, Fleetwood charged florward and began to take the ball towards goal, with Anyon out of goal. The referee blew, as the kick wasn’t taken in the correct position, but as Lincoln had lost the ball, surely it’s their fault?

The reorganising meant Crow dropped back into midfield , with Hand shifting back to partner Antwi, who had a rather bizarre match , plenty of miskicks and generally produced a nervy performance, but late on became composed and made a number of important interceptions.

Lawless tested Anyon, with a piledriver which the keeper could only push out to Willmott his attempt was deflected away. Dance fouled by Barraclough, took the free kickly, perfectly placed for Fleetwood to speed past Nelson, before crashing a drive against the bar and over. Fleetwood involved again with Crow, Fleetwood firing a low centre in, Crow could only spoon the ball over.

Couple of nervy moments before the break, Hand attempted an unwise back pass, inadvertly played in the tiny McCullum, lucky he was greedy lashing the ball wide, with the unmarked Perry smack bang in the middle of the goal. McCullum beat Hand, this time on the left, before drilling his drive wide of Tyler.

Our final chance of the half, came after Crow was shoved by his opposition number ten Fuseni, resulting in a booking. Crow is another player excellent at going down under the minimum of contact. The wall was …ooh..a good yard away, was eventually pushed back to about eight yards, Willmott opted for power and it struck Power in the wall.

The half time break, saw the appearance Watkins for Crow. A sensible swop as Crow isn’t a midfield player as lacks mobility to play that role. watkins ws tidy in possession, allowing to break forward at times, with Lawless doing a sterling job in the holding midfield role. Lincoln had a fair amount of possession, but too often went sideways, even with a man less, we could get our two banks of four in front of Tyler.

AMS, for a player with such quality had a rather anonymous agme, ran forward was stopped by a clear handball by Nelson, a costly bookingfor him later in the game. Watkins played the kick in , Nelason could only head the ball down to Lawless who stabbed the ball at Anyon.

Antwi allowed McCullum to escape , but Barraclough was unable to connect properly, then from Sinclair’s fine cross, Barraclough got half a yard on Dance, but shoved his attempt wide. Power cut past Antwi, feeding Russell to hit across goal, which may have taken a nick off Howells and Tyler produced a fine low diving save.

Lincoln were starting to press more, with the introduction of Nicolau a decent left winger and Russell on the opposite flank, were starting to hit in a number of crosses, but Tyler handling’s under pressure was brilliant and Perry’s heading was somehat less than that.

O’Connor replaced Willmott, with AMS moving across to the left, with O’Connor slotting in ahead of Dance on the right. O’Connor was pretty poor with the ball, he runs about a lot but doesn’t bring much else to the party. Had the likes of Kissock, Fleetwood been at the club before he arrived, doubt whether Brabin would have bothered signing him. Unless we have as many injuries in attacking areas as defensive ones can’t see him getting much of a look in, from the start at any rate.

Watkins beocming more of an influence on the game after a neat turn by Kissock ( on for AMS), threaded the ball through to Fleetwood only denied by the long legs of Nelson. We had a lucky esacpe, following Fuseni run; found it’s way to Perry, who despite Tyler getting a hand on the ball, couldn’t stop it going in. However a welcome raised linesman’s flag saved the day.

Fleetwood denied again by Anyon, on the angle after being found by O’Connor, decent save by Anyon. By this time , we were getting control again and looking the more likely team to score. Our corners weren’t great, too high and easy for Watts and Nelson, as without Beckwith we lack any muscle really at attacking set pieces. Antwi got his header on one corner by Watkins , but it dropped straight into Anyon.

We continued to hold out well, a needed interception by Antwi blocked Fuseni’s pass towards Nicolau, then a brillant block by Hand, getting in the way of a sweetly stuck drive by Nicolau moving in off the left, which looked certain to end up nestling in the net but for the Hayes loanee.

Then as time ticked on, a strike by Lawless cannoned off Sinclair for a corner. Taken short by Watkins, into Kissock, did wonderfully well to keep his composure and balance in the tightest of angles only Fleetwood to tap in for what could be a very important goal come the end of April to Kenilworth Road bonkers.

There was still time for Fleetwood to score another, watkins the supplier but again couldn’t do anymore than force the ball staright at Anyon. With five minutes of added time, the only noteable moment was Nelson thrusting Fleetwood into the boards of the Beach huts to earn him a second caution of the afternoon.

So, ending a week where the team have clicked and are playing for each other. Ideal opportunity to push struggling Bath further down the plug hole on Tuesday and then go onto York, for the biggest test so far this season in good spirits.

Mark Tyler 7.5 , James Dance 7 , Will Antwi 6, Dean Beckwith 5, Jake Howells 7, Amari Morgan-Smith 5.5 ( John-Paul Kissock 7), Jamie Hand 9 , Alex Lawless 8, Robbie Willmott 5.5 ( Aaron O’Connor 4.5), Danny Crow 6 ( Adam Watkins 7), Stuart Fleetwood 8.5.

Subs not used – Collin Samuel, Kevin Pilkington . Booked – Lawless, Watkins, Fleetwood

Lincoln – Anyon, Sinclair, Nelson, Nutter, Russell, Power, Fuseni ( O’Keefe), Barraclough ( Nicolau), Perry, McCullum ( Smith). Booked – Fuseni, Nelson ( x2), Perry

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