Jake recalls a grey day

Malcolm Dawson writes……the last time I went to Sincil Bank, I had a nice day out with other members of the Heart of England Branch, spending time in the Lincoln City Social Club before witnessing a 1-0 win in the F.A. Cup. The last time I went to Lincoln I was enjoying a day out with a friend of mine and her (at that time) young son. We walked the walls, went in the Cathedral, looked in a few shops and had a decent dinner somewhere so my memories of the city are pleasant ones. So were Pete Sixsmith‘s until about 3.05 pm yesterday afternoon. Let him explain……

LOST IN LINCOLN

In the dim and distant past, Bruce Forsyth used to ask contestants on Beat the Clock, to rearrange words into a well known phrase or saying.

Let’s see what you, dear reader, can do with these:

Lincoln end embarrassing could the beginning debacle of be at This.

Although you may have framed these words into a question, if you came up with “This embarrassing debacle at Lincoln could be the beginning of the end?” you would be on the same wavelength as me. If you were to add “And the quicker Jack Ross leaves, the better for all concerned” you would be echoing the thoughts of the vast majority of the Sunderland supporters who entered Sincil Bank with a modicum of optimism and left (many of them before the final whistle) with that optimism gone.

Alright my loves? Not if you were in the away end yesterday.

This was by far the worst performance of the manager’s time on Wearside. Buoyed by two decent wins, we went into a game against opponents who appeared to be mourning the departure of the Cowley Brothers and who looked to be in a state of emotional collapse.

The Sincil Drain

Last time at their pleasant and atmospheric Sincil Bank, they collapsed to a 0-6 pummelling by Oxford United. Last weekend, they lost at Blackpool, albeit to a last-minute goal. So, they came into this game needing to show their noisy and boisterous support, that the mourning period was over and that “The King(s) is (are) dead. Long live the King.” New manager Michael Appleton and his players responded splendidly. Ours, manager and players, were supine. To describe it as a disappointment is like saying that Michael Gove is mildly irritating.

If you want a “d” word to cover it, how about “dross”, “Dismal”, “disgraceful”. That’ll do at the moment.

When we heard the team, the general feeling was that an unchanged side with a decent bench was just the ticket. The two new defenders would be able to further embed themselves in, the Wyke/O’Nien combination would have another chance to show its worth and McGeoch and Power would hopefully replicate their first half dominance of the previous Saturday.

Well, we got that embarrassingly wrong didn’t we.

They came at us right from the start and produced a performance that had pace, power and positivity. Our response was ponderous, feeble and lacking in any positivity whatsoever as we were outplayed and outfought by a side who had been clearly instructed about our weaknesses and had been drilled to take advantage of them. I imagine that their scouting report on last Saturday suggested that we were slow in the build-up, liked to turn back on ourselves and had no real urgency in the opposition box.

It may well have said that certain players like to hold the ball too long, others are uncomfortable when a quick player runs at them and they offer little up front. And the goalkeeper is going through a dodgy spell. If it didn’t identify those failings, the scout wasn’t doing his job.

Jon McLaughlin has been below the impeccably high standards that he set last season. Many felt that he should have done better with the goal he conceded last week. This week, he was indecisive when coming for a dinked pass by Eardley and was bundled over by Tyler Walker, resulting in either Walker’s 7th goal of the season or an own goal by the keeper. Let’s give it to Tyler.

Bruno Andrade

We had one opportunity to level the scores, when De Bock, who was given a torrid time by Bruno Andrade, hit a fine shot which had Josh Vickers stretching to tip over the bar, but that was it. Nothing else. Vickers had a quiet afternoon as our attempts to salvage something foundered.

Walker hit the post with a penalty after De Bock pulled down Andrade following a scintillating move from The Imps which started deep in their half and quickly moved into our box. The manager responded by hauling off Maguire and Gooch (each equally ineffective) and sending on McGeady and McNulty to supplement Wyke. Alas, it gave Lincoln even more room and another flowing move allowed the unmarked Andrade to gallop away and play a superb first-time ball in for Walker to stab home with Lynch and Willis nowhere near him.

We could have gone home then. There were some dismal attempts to get back into the game, but the City defence was comfortable with the limited options that we had and they were worthy winners at the end. They had everything that we lack. They have pace in Andrade. We have Gooch. They have a goal scorer in Walker. We have Wyke. They have busy central midfield players who move the ball quickly. We are slow and ponderous. They have central defenders who have that security blanket in front of them. We have defenders who are always plugging gaps.

The crowd were nowhere near as unpleasant as at Bolton two weeks ago but there was little support for either players or manager. It may well be that he is coming to the end of his time at Sunderland. He has not improved the side at all over the summer – in fact, we have gone backwards and the reliance on McGeady to pull some magic out is embarrassing.

Whether the current owners want to appoint a new man with the takeover talks at a delicate phase is unlikely, which gives Ross a week or two to sort out this shambles as another debacle at Wycombe will surely tip him over the edge. Nothing less than a run of victories and some flowing, interesting football will satisfy and convince supporters that he is any better than Moyes, Grayson or Coleman.

As often happens, the game spoilt a pleasant day. The trip down was quiet and uneventful, we arrived in Lincoln in ample time to sample some of its many delights and most of us did. I wandered into the very busy city centre, swarming with shoppers and students and full of busy shops. There were even people buying things in Debenhams!!!

I strolled up to the Cathedral up Steep Hill, the most appropriately named thoroughfare in the UK, and popped in to see if the Imp had been doing his a*** kicking routine. I was assured that he hadn’t and that he was saving that for Sincil Bank later in the afternoon. He should have stayed in his place in the roof and spared us all an embarrassing afternoon which makes me think very hard about wasting time and money on trips all over the country. Visits to Shrewsbury and Oxford are looking increasingly unlikely.

Let’s finish as we started, but no answers this time. I invite you to rearrange these words into a well known phrase or saying;

Are Saturday of there ways afternoon. better a spending

Not difficult is it……?

Lowlights of the game via safc.com

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Born in Hetton le Hole, deputy editor Malcolm Dawson's first game at Roker Park was the three all draw with Leicester City at the beginning of the 64-65 season. Having spent more than thirty years living in the East Midlands, he was Chairman and Information Officer of the Heart of England Branch of the Supporters' Association but has now returned to live in County Durham.

11 Responses to “Sixer’s Lincoln City Soapbox: on watching a team in red and white dominate” Subscribe

  1. Vincent October 6, 2019 at 11:32 am #

    Just when we think we have hit rock bottom,SAFC continue to plummet new depths.

    The payers and manager should hang their heads in shame.We are indeed going backwards in League 1,the fear we all had is happening.

  2. malcolm October 6, 2019 at 11:44 am #

    If Ross is going to start Gooch and Maguire then why wasn’t Maguire on the right and Gooch left. Maguire especially looks more dangerous lined up that way.

    Why can the same players not seem to perform well in successive games?

    Ross’s plan B seems to be to just throw on more goalscorers. Lincoln showed how to move the ball crisply and attack at speed. When we get into the keeping possession mindset and the laborious build up we look nothing like the side that can break quickly, flood the box and create goal scoring opportunities.

    Ross must be ruing the decision to postpone the Fleetwood game as it now means he has to wait two weeks to try and prove he has the ability to turn things around and we are away at Wycombe who are flying high at the moment.

    I assume that it would cost the club to pay off the rest of Ross’s and the rest of the coaching staff’s contracts and I don’t think chopping and changing managers will guarantee a change of results but he is failing to get the backing of the fans which in itself is bound to have an effect on his mindset and self belief, despite what he says.

    I try and stay upbeat about things but the dripping tap effect is starting to take hold even on me.

  3. Paul October 6, 2019 at 12:35 pm #

    I am going back to predicting wins for opponents, it worked earlier on in the season. Sunderland improved.

    On another topic: how will the prospective investors react to this sort of display? Not well, I wager.

  4. JEL October 6, 2019 at 2:40 pm #

    Watching the game via SAFSee on a laptop, I enjoyed the first 12 minutes, then I realised I was supporting the wrong team. I had tuned in just at kickoff, what should have been audio commentary was a loop from a call in programme before the Sheffield Utd match, so I just automatically was following the team in red and white. ‘We’ had most of the possession, were moving the ball around well and an O’nien lookalike was buzzing around up front. Yes the numbers were confusing, yes it was amazing that John McLaughlin had grown a beard so quickly (I am not kidding) but I was happy enough until one of the wicked fouling team in blue just looked a lot like Chris Maguire. The penny dropped and I had to endure the rest of the match realigned. Pete Sixsmith describes the following 78 minutes better than I can.
    Never mind my new glasses should be arriving any day now.

  5. Martin October 6, 2019 at 4:24 pm #

    Ipswich and Peterborough will go up automatically. We will finish mid table – nowhere near the play offs.

    Wyke is one of the worst forwards in our history – a plundering, slow, carthorse. Yet he keeps getting picked!!! We have nobody up front who can score goals!

    Gooch is rubbish! Loses possession ad nauseam, inconsistent, unreliable, and should be dropped permanently.

    We struggle every single game, and fail to dominate any team. its embarrassing, humiliating and disgraceful.

    We will get beat at Wycombe. No doubt. There’s no way back fro us this season – you can’t polish a turd!

    • Peter Sixsmith October 6, 2019 at 5:40 pm #

      I fear you are right, Martin. Any optimism that I had (and as Colin will tell you, it wasn’t much) was washed away down the Sincil Drain on Saturday. We are what we are – not very good. I agree with you about Wyke and Gooch who are permanently disappointing. Let’s look for players to play the ball in quickly – but we haven’t got many like that. Maybe Power and Dobson, who have both experienced this division will be able to do it. And we may as well give Grigg an extended run as he can’t possibly be any less effective than Wyke.
      It’s looking like a return to groundhopping for me.

  6. Phil D October 6, 2019 at 6:37 pm #

    Depressing and miserable. For the third division, we have a strong squad and a huge wage bill, yet it isn’t working.

    We haven’t bought well and Ross seems to have run out of ideas.

    I will persevere, here in Mexico City.

  7. YSYL October 6, 2019 at 10:08 pm #

    I couldn’t see the point calling off SAFC’s game due to internationals. But it could be a blessing. Another 2 weeks to get this “takeover”, which has had as many deadlines as Brexit, to be sorted, one way or the other.

    This uncertainty must be pervading throughout the club. Until it is sorted out and Ross is either confirmed as manger for the season or sacked, many of these lazy athletes will not put themselves out or risk injury.

    Unfortunately it reminds you all too much of the final dreadful years of Ellis Short.

    • William C October 7, 2019 at 10:41 am #

      I agree that postponing the Fleetwood game is a mistake. We have a large squad, and our best two displays so far were the wins against Burnley and Sheffield U – where we made numerous changes.

      Looking a long way back when I played football [ and it was a VERY long way back ] the best reaction to a bad defeat is to play again as quickly as possible.

      I hope our owners don’t over react to this result – it is still only our second defeat of the season, and I am still confident that we will at least finish in the top six.

  8. KevS October 7, 2019 at 11:08 am #

    I was a big fan of Ross last season when I thought he did a great job of ‘stopping the rot’. I was keen for him to be given the summer transfer window to bring players in that he really wanted.

    Unfortunately he ‘s blown it . We needed pace up front and more physicality in midfield. He’s addressed neither. I like McNulty but he’s got no real pace and Burge has done nothing wrong (surely time to bring him in for JM) but the rest of the new boys are looking nothing more than adequate.

    McGeouch, Gooch, Wyke and Grigg have all now had more than enough chances and, by and large, are offering nothing. I wouldn’t even have Grigg on the bench – I’ve never seen anyone as lazy and disinterested. Power, despite his recent goals, is nothing more than adequate and Maguire looks more suited to coming off the bench as he rarely does it for 90 minutes. We’re basically totally reliant on the complete maverick that is McGeady.

    In addition to the problems going forward, Ross and his staff, after 16 months, still seem incapable of organising the defence. You could bring Big Sam in as a consultant and I’d wager that within 6 weeks he ‘d have them keeping clean sheets.

    Where do we go from here ? Firstly a thumping at the cloggers that are Wycombe (Akinfenwa must be licking his lips) and then nowhere. Time for Ross to go I’m afraid.

  9. CSB October 7, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

    I refrained from posting comments after the defeat to try to distil just exactly where we are and what that performance meant.

    On the plus side its only our second loss of the season, Ross is less than halfway through his contract and improvements have been made. Its still early days for this season and we need to realise that we are not going to walk away with every game. To be fair Lincoln were well worth their win.

    On the minus side was the manner of our defeat. On paper we were man for man better than them, but Lincoln dominated, if the game had finished 4 – 0 we couldn’t complain. Ross has always stated that his style means that we may concede but we will score more at the other end. Unfortunately we are conceding but aren’t even creating chances at the other end. One shot well saved in the first half and Wyke’s miss in the second is all that comes to mind of our attacking prowess. This is doubly worryingly as it is a mirror of our problems towards the end of last season The continuing problems with the defence are also a cause for concern but I think the writing is on the wall for all concerned.

    As said Ross is not even half way through his contract and should be given at least until Christmas to turn things around and perhaps one more transfer window, who could we get anyway. The new owners, should it ever happen, may have different ideas but until then we should keep faith. It’s not great but the foundations are there we just need a spark.

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