New season, new manager but a performance that we’re all very familiar with from last season.
It’s not often that you travel to a European game expecting a win (I’ve seen one win in sixteen trips) but I was optimistic when I got up at 4am to catch my flight from Gatwick. I should have known better.
The day was slightly surreal as Gibraltar feels a bit like Millport moved to Spain. I don’t think I ever had temps in the 30s though on my school trips to Millport! At kick off the temperature was still very hot and we could see that the pitch was awful with no sign of any water sprinklers prior to the game or at half time.
We started brightly enough and the gulf in class between the teams was evident. For all our control though we weren’t making chances, partly due to our final ball/cross being over hit or miss hit on a regular basis. Gradually you could see Lincoln grow in confidence and they started to compete for the ball very effectively. In fact,as the game went on they seemed to be first to the second ball more often than not. Many fans around me felt they were bullying some of our players and it’s hard to disagree with that, particularly in the midfield.
Our defence seemed to revert to last seasons bad habits and, for the middle section of the game, Lincoln looked the more likely team to score even after going a goal up. It was only in the last twenty/twenty five mins that we seemed to be on top, hitting the bar twice but all a bit too little to late.
It’s an under statement to say that Rodgers has a lot to sort out. Starting with Efe who was at fault with the goal and was caught in possession more than once. His recent article in CQN about the club was impressive but he’s a liability on the park…how many times have we said that! Groundhog Day doesn’t cover it. It’s obvious that we haven’t yet found the best way to involve Dembele. He hardly touched the ball but did have one good shot in the first half. Ciftci actually did OK when he came on and we had much more of a threat when he was playing.
Up front we seemed to be far too narrow or timid. Janko seemed to lack confidence to try and get past the left back (who had been driving a taxi that afternoon!) and it became increasingly rare to get to the bye line. This improved though when Armstrong came on and tried to force the issue. Is Roberts injured or is he really behind Christie and Forrest (!) in the managers thoughts?
At the end of the game there was a lot of anger amongst the fans. We were kept back for a while, as is the norm in away games, which meant we were still there when the players came out to warm down. A small group of fans (up to thirty?) decided that the way to be the “greatest support in the world” was to chant “shite bags” at the players, most of whom hadn’t even been playing! I don’t see how creating a poisonous atmosphere is helping us as a club. Thankfully many other fans tried to redress the balance and gave some support to the players.
Rodgers has emphasised that pre season has been about building fitness and team building. Well, the players need to show a strong response to this as a team, otherwise many of them will be gone soon. I think I may have to wait a while for my second away victory!
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