Match Preview: Lincoln City v Crewe Alexandra
The Imps return to Sincil Bank this week end following their defeat at Crawley Town last Saturday. To be honest, I feel that 3-1 reverse has been coming for a while and now we've had it, let's hope that sort of display is well and truly out of our system. What better fixture to follow that one than Crewe at home? They are having a poor season so far as they languish in 20th place just six points ahead of Chesterfield in 23rd who have a game in hand over the Railwaymen. You'll need no reminding that we have already beaten them this season, winning 1-4 at Gresty Road having gone in 1-0 down at half-time. Some may argue that was our best second-half performance of the season. Interestingly, City have generally not had good first halves so far and one stat someone told me last week was that we haven't yet gone in at half-time in the lead when playing away this season. I checked; we haven't!
Current form might well suggest a home win is the likeliest outcome with Crewe having collected just four points from their last eight League games whilst the Imps have picked up ten in their last eight. The Alex have also lost their last five away games whereas the Imps are on a strong run of form at home winning six and drawing two of their last eight. To compound their misery, they lost at home to Exeter City on Tuesday night having take an 88th minute lead!
Injuries are beginning to take their toll on City with long-term casualties in James Wilson and Josh Vickers unlikely to feature for some time yet and with much uncertainty surrounding the depth of Lee Frecklington's problem, the strain on a small squad is inevitable. We certainly do not want yet more players unable to play their part and that's without even thinking about possible suspensions. As mentioned in the last preview, I feel that the pitch has been a massive contributor to our injury problem this year; something which needs rectifying soonest.
I assume Ryan Allsop will continue between the sticks in front of a back four of Neal Eardley, Luke Waterfall, Scott Wharton and Sam Habergham although some have called for Sean Long to return with Eardley moving to left back and Habergham rested but I am not at all sure Danny Cowley will do this. Any change to the defence may well only come about if Lee Frecklington is fit to start, in which case I would expect to see Michael Bostwick drop into the back four at the expense of Wharton leaving Alex Woodyard in midfield behind Frecklington and the two wide men, Harry Anderson and (hopefully) the returning Danny Rowe. I'd certainly leave the two Matts, Rhead and Green, up front as they have been doing so well together of late (and again at Crawley). I, for one, am not sure about Tom Pett's contribution recently and wonder if he will retain his place leaving Rowe to come off the bench later in the game? So many possibilities, eh?
Saturday sees the welcome return to Sincil Bank of referee Carl Boyeson who has officiated in two of our games so far this season; the 0-0 draw in front of the TV cameras at Blundell Park (two yellows and no reds) and the very enjoyable Boxing Day encounter with Stevenage at Sincil Bank (no yellows and no reds). I don't recall he did much wrong in either fixture, so I am sure he will be made most welcome!
I expect another excellent following of Imps fans at this one and feel we should surpass the 8,000 figure once again. I also expect us to return to winning ways; 3-1.
You can discuss this Preview on 100% Imps.
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City FC for the photographs.