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Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Two Up, Two Down: One of those games for the Lads, or should do better?

Having had a little time to reflect, what do our writers make of the Lads’ goalless at Lincoln draw on Saturday afternoon? Surely there are a few positives we can take from the performance?

Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...

Basepoint!

It looks like it wouldn’t work, but this three at the back idea is actually giving us a solid base to work from at the moment. With Patterson using the ball well and growing into the goalkeeper's role, Wright winning everything at the moment and the two either side able to carry possession forward I’m more confident than I have been in a long time. In front of them, Roberts looked great too, and with Sunderland camping in the Lincoln City half at times, we played some lovely football in parts.

Training day!

I never like international weekends, but hopefully, this upcoming break will at least give Neil the chance to really drill his ideas into the squad. It is also an opportunity for him to look at one or two lads that have been on the fringes or injured recently, and whilst O’Nien has done well on his return he will need to probably take a breather now having been out for so long.

Good performance, poor result!

In contrast to the last two home games, where we didn’t look great but got the wins still, this was like a rerun of the Charlton Athletic game where we did more than enough to deserve victory but couldn’t put our chances away. With all of the question marks over their keeper before kick-off it would have been good to get a few more efforts on target to really test him, and this seemed like an afternoon where if we had scored we’d have gone on to win comfortably.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Ref-off!

Hardly a new one I grant you, but I cannot help but feel we should have been given two penalties at least. Too often it seems that shirt pulling and wrestling don’t count in the penalty area in this division, and yet seemingly innocuous ‘fouls’ elsewhere on the pitch get called. We’ve got our own issues to focus on admittedly, but the officiating simply adds to the frustration.


Luke “Bomber” Davies says...

2 points per game

People criticising Alex Neil should step back, give their heads a wobble and gain a bit of perspective. As fans, we have very short memories but like Rafa Benitez, I do my best to try and stick to facts… We are unbeaten in six, 12 points from a possible 18, and thus meeting that magic 2 points per game average. Yes that may have been our target for automatic promotion, and that may be out of our reach, but maintaining this ppg average will see us comfortably into the playoffs.

On timelines and in Whatsapp groups I’m seeing comparisons of Alex Neil to Phil Parkinson after today which is just ridiculous! If we hadn’t created anything then I could understand it but it’s not Alex Neil’s fault we’ve hit the post three times, had three penalty shouts turned down, made the keeper pull off two great saves, and flashed another few just off-target.

What he has done is put a team out that has created at least a dozen chances and on another day would have us talking about a 5-0 victory.

Water-tight defence

Four clean sheets in the previous six games is a fantastic return! Yes, some of the opposition might not have been the highest quality, but Wigan (aka the league’s second highest scorers / League One Champions elect) are one of those teams; and not to forget that this defence conceded THREE against Cheltenham, TWO against Doncaster and SIX against Bolton so, you know, let’s not scoff at it eh!

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

If you don’t concede goals then you can’t lose football matches. It’s a great foundation to the vast majority of successful teams. If we dare to assume that we make the playoffs, the ability to keep teams out regardless of how well we are playing in attack is pivotal to a successful run in the lottery of play-off football.

If we don’t concede in the three play-off matches, I’m willing to bet we’ll be playing Championship football next season.

League One Officials Stink!

We should be used to it by now right? This is true, but it doesn’t make it any less infuriating! It’s not necessarily all about the officiating over the whole game, it’s the continued enragement of getting the game's biggest decisions incorrect!

Three penalty shouts for Sunderland today. Patrick Roberts went down a little easy despite getting the wrong side of his man - Not a penalty for me. One, if not both of the infringements on Ross Stewart should have seen the referee pointing to the spot!

Even if not him, the “referee’s assistants” should have done their jobs and… well…. ASSISTED! Both of those incidents would have been in the eye-line of both the officials who could have made the decision.

Is it incompetence? Is it a reluctance to make any decision for fear of being criticised? Either way, it’s tiresome, it’s costly and quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It’s cold in Loch Ness!

One of the positives I cited from last week was the fact that the goals were being spread around the team. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great thing! The form

4 goals in the last 13 games is about as far away from the 8 in 8 he returned during December and early January.

Yes there is much more to the Loch Ness Drogba’s game than goals; a criticism I levied continually at Charlie Wyke. However, we are very much at the business end of the season, and if we are going to shut teams out at the back, we need the form of the league’s top scorer to heat up!

Scoring in excess of 20 goals is great, but if they dry up when you need them most then it becomes a risk that it was all for nothing. The clear daylight Stewart had over the rest of the league’s top scorer charts has dwindled to a wintery dusk - with 4 players now sat on 19 goals to Rossco’s 22. We need him firing again because at this stage of the season, its about goals, not performances!


Malc Dugdale says...

Chance creation!

Once again, we have gone away from home and looked like the home side, creating way more than the opposition. If we can do that against teams that park the bus as has been the case with several recent opponents, when it comes to the playoffs (assuming we make them) we will do ok against teams who need to score to proceed.

We didn’t lose!

the way that game played out we could easily have thrown it all away with a late goal against us. Patterson made a great save to keep our sheet clean after having nowt to do all game. We have lost too many games like that in the recent past and we didn’t today.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

We didn’t win!

We hit the post a couple of times, had their keeper make an even better save than Patto’s from a great Nessie header, and could have easily had a couple of penalties. Our finishing wasn’t good enough to break the deadlock though which is a concern. That’s 4 points just at Charlton and Lincoln we should have had in the league but missed out on. Let’s hope that doesn’t mean the difference in the playoff race.

Refs in this division are a waste of planetary oxygen!

We could have had several penalties today but the ref was once again a weird merge of spineless and blind. Ross Stewarts shirt was a size 3XL by the full time whistle, he’d been dragged around the box so much. I’m all for a contact sport being such but the officials are awful in league one, letting way too much go which does change games. Can’t wait to get out of this crap league, let’s hope the unbeaten run we are on gives us the chance via a playoff berth.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Referee Craig Hicks during the Sky Bet League One match between Lincoln City and Sunderland at LNER Stadium on March 19, 2022 in Lincoln, England.
Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images
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