These are the games aren’t they. A point tonight would’ve been fine if we’d managed to hold onto all three on Saturday, but ultimately it’s a frustrating one at home again, against a midtable Accrington Stanley. It could’ve been a defeat had it not been for Maxwell’s save of a late penalty for the visitors, but the unbeaten run goes on.
It was a game in hand for us against many of the Play-Off chasing pack, while Portsmouth only drew with Crewe. Lincoln won and went above us in the table, while Oxford showed they’re not out of the race with a win over Shrewsbury.
- Our defensive shape
Daniel Gretarsson and Dan Ballard make a really strong partnership in the middle, while Luke Garbutt and Jordan Gabriel performed admirably on each side of defence. Not only did the defence do their job defensively, but also helped to recycled possession to help us build from the back.
2. Critchley’s passion
While it was probably born of frustration, it was good to see some passion from Neil Critchley on the sideline throughout this one. Accrington defended well and the referee didn’t help us, which led to Critch bouncing up and down on the touchline – lovely to see how much he cares as we reach the business end of the season, where our season will be defined.
3. Jordan Gabriel
I’ve mentioned the defence already but feel that Gabriel needs a special mention. He offers so much going forwards, but is also so sound defensively too. A real asset for us in all three thirds of the pitch, he barely puts a foot wrong and isn’t afraid to have a run at opposing players as he uses his pace and trickery. Sign him up.
4. Grant Ward
The man gets better with every game. He makes us tick and has really stepped up since the injuries to Virtue and Stewart. He’s simply undroppable at the moment and gets the best out of Kenny Dougall. You can tell he’s full of confidence right now and he’s probably the fittest he’s been in recent years as he’s struggled through injury prior to joining us last January.
5. Penalty save
What a save, Chris Maxwell! The penalty was straight down the middle, but Maxwell’s strong hand managed to stop the ball and flick it into his grasp, to prevent us losing at home for the first time since October. The unbeaten run goes on and it’s now 15 games. If he was at fault for one or both of Lincoln’s two goals on Saturday, he definitely gained us a point tonight with that save.
- The referee
He didn’t make any particularly poor decisions, but seemed to be a stickler for ensuring the ball was played from exactly where the foul was made for each free-kick. That contributed to Accrington’s tactic of stopping us from playing quickly and ensuring a stop-start affair. I wouldn’t say it was a penalty either, and he couldn’t wait to give it.
2. Sullay’s miss
Arguably our best move of the match, Elliot Embleton passed forwards to Ellis Simms who poked forwards to Jerry Yates, who rolled it across for Sullay Kaikai with two thirds of a goal to aim at. His first effort was well saved by Accrington’s keeper, but Sullay should surely have finished the rebound with his left foot and unfortunately fired over at the start of the second half.
3. The pitch
Okay, for our standards in recent years, let me be clear that the surface is really holding up quite well to say we’re in April. But, compared with previous weeks, the pitch was bobbly and meant that players often needed to take an extra touch to take control.
4. Service for Yates
Too often our moves broke down before we could thread the ball through to our main man. He struggled for service tonight which meant that we didn’t really threaten Accy’s goal too often.
5. Options from the bench
No subs were made to change things up, purely down to the lack of options we have in the forward positions. Ward looked tired in the final half hour and Embleton drifted out of the game. If we’d had one of Keshi, CJ or Gary goals to come off the bench we might’ve had a better chance of breaking the deadlock. As it was, it was 90 minutes for every player on the pitch which is a clear sign that our squad is stretched to the max.
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