Tag Archives: Lincoln City

Two ‘Ugly’ Players Oldham Need Next Season To Compete in The Physical Side Of League Two

League Two football can never be described as ‘pretty’. There are a number of players capable of producing the odd flash of brilliance but on the whole, League Two is the place finesse goes to die.

It is unsurprising then that League Two champions Lincoln’s approach to the game consists of throwing themselves to the ground at every opportunity, barging the opposition out of the way and having a goalkeeper who can deliver the ball from box to box on a regular basis. This method was ably demonstrated in their recent win at MK Dons.

It would be churlish to suggest that Oldham should adopt a direct game in an effort to escape League Two next season but, one of the ingredients that have been missing lately are players whose only mandate late in a game is to get the ball upfield as far as possible. A four-game sequence saw Latics concede in the 90th minute at home to Crewe, Morecambe and Stevenage and Bury away losing out on a possible six extra points.

As yet it is unknown what the squad will look like after the last game of the season has been played out. However, as far as defenders are concerned and if rumours are correct, skipper Peter Clarke may move on and on-loan Alex Iacovitti will be returning to Nottingham Forest leaving a void in the sort of players we need who can play ‘ugly’ football when it is required.

There are always a good number of players around who will fit that requirement and two that would certainly be suitable and available are:

Mal Benning

Mansfield’s 25 year old left back has also played as a centre back and in midfield for the Stags this season. He has an option of a further one-year extension to his contract which expires in June, but with the club on the verge of a move into League One his direct style may be deemed as useful in League Two but lacking substance in a higher division. He has not produced many goals but managed to find the net direct from a corner against Northampton.

David Wheater

The 32-year-old Bolton captain and defender would be the perfect replacement for Peter Clarke. Strong in the air with good concentration and blocking skills. He is described as being a threat at set pieces and a good player to have if the ball needs clearing quickly. His only weakness appears to be his passing ability.

Given that all of the Bolton players have an uncertain future, Wheater might be persuaded to drop a division given that he would be able to remain living in the area, and presumably has plenty of experience of being part of a squad playing for a club with a controversial owner!

Three players Bury Just Can’t Do Without Next Season In League One

As the 2018/19 football league season draws to a close, the question of promotion for Bury has finally be answered. Yes, of course Ryan Lowe’s side would eventually join Lincoln City in League One next season, as confirmed on Tuesday night at Tranmere Rovers.

Other than the division change, the thought that Bury could be without their best players and even manager is a worrying thought all fans will not even want to consider.

So as the Shakers look to prepare for life in League One, without or without Lowe and his backroom staff, we take a look at the three players Bury will want to cling onto next season…

Danny Mayor 

Scorer of the goal that earned Bury promotion in their 1-1 draw with Tranmere on Tuesday night, the key to the side’s creativity throughout this season as well. Missed so much during April in defeats against Cambridge and Carlisle through suspension, the idea the upcoming League Two club could lose their midfield man isn’t really an option anybody with an affiliation to the club would want to consider.

With 12 goals and 11 assists this season in all competitions, Mayor will no doubt be in hot pursuit for many League One and even Championship clubs. With the club back up for sale and with no takers at present, Mayor may look elsewhere to extend his playing career, especially considering the fact he turns 28 and arguably in the prime of his career.

Nicky Maynard 

Again another obvious choice to list, yet considering he is the clubs top goal scorer this season in a promotion winning one, Maynard’s first season in Greater Manchester may well be his last.

His 21 chart stopping season is bettered by only two players in League Two this season in James Norwood (Tranmere) and Tyler Walker (Mansfield Town). He didn’t start his playing season till September either, so his record in front of goal is one any other investor couldn’t ignore. Like Mayor, the ex-Aberdeen man will not want to see a salary reduction. The chances of him remaining as the frontman of Bury are most definitely in doubt.

Dom Telford 

Potentially a left field name to mention in this list yet after starring in the Checkatrade Trophy run this season, the 22-year-old is someone the Shakers will want to keep hold of and not let a relatively young striker head out the exit door.

Even though players like Jay O’Shea or Nicky Adams may be standout options, 14 goals in only his second full playing season is no bad total. With youth on his side, he could well be the long term choice up front for Bury and an immediate successor to Maynard up top.

Bury host Port Vale in the final match of this memorable season back in League Two. How many players make the team sheet for opening fixtures in August is anyone’s guess however.

Oldham’s Season is Stumbling to an End, But What Can Wild Learn From Their Newport Defeat?

It is very easy for fans to cast aside an end of season defeat when there is very little to play for.

However, for the coach and players, the penultimate game of the season can prove to be a valuable lesson in both understanding why the squad haven’t achieved more and what they need to do to improve.

Tuesday nights defeat at Newport was almost inevitable, given that Latics had already failed at the hurdle of needing to win their last three games. The players can be forgiven for having their attention on a beach in Marbella, rather than the drab surroundings of South Wales. With Newport still able to make it into the top seven, the game was always going to be keenly contested.

What Athletic’s players were probably not prepared for was the physical onslaught wreaked on them by a Newport side desperate not to lose.

Both captain Peter Clarke and George Edmundson had to leave the field with injuries, following Newport’s attempts to barge into our players at every opportunity. It highlighted a problem we have had with other sides this season who are intent on imposing their physical strength on the game, once they have decided whether the referee will let them get away with it or not.

Athletic have won a good number of games this season with confident, passing football but they need to also learn that playing ‘ugly’ in the manner of MK Dons, Lincoln and Newport also gets you results and although it isn’t a pretty sight, it is sadly part of the formula for escaping League Two in the right direction.

For Peter Wild, the lesson learned needs to be to expect spoiler tactics and aerial bombardments as part of League Two life and to adjust his team accordingly. Latics fans wouldn’t want to see our players crumble into a heap at the sight of an opposition players shadow, but imposing ourselves on the game right from the kick off might be a valuable lesson.

Eventful March is One To Forget For Oldham Fans

March is always the make or break month for clubs. The surge for promotion needs to be well under way as does the climb to safety. The number of games remaining by April Fools Day is usually down to single figures and, apart from a few rare occurrences clubs are pretty sure where they are going to end up in the table.

Not unsurprisingly given previous league results, Latics started March with a promising first half display at home to Stevenage with a goal from Jose Baxter separating the sides before conceding an equaliser in the dying minutes. Indeed, Stevenage could have left Boundary Park with all three points after striking the crossbar deep into injury time. Letting in late goals continued a trend which had seen Latics slip down the table and it was seen as a problem that Paul Scholes needed to fix fast.

There was no late goal at Cambridge a week later but despite going ahead in the first half courtesy of an own goal, Latics failed to capitalise on their lead and another disappointing point at a club who had spent most of the season trying to get out of the relegation scrap wasn’t the result we were looking for. With a trip to leaders Lincoln facing us three days later, there was a feeling that we had squandered the chance to pick up points against sides we really should have beaten.

Latics were now without a win in five games which was obviously not the introduction to football management that Paul Scholes was expecting.

The Lincoln game started well enough for Athletic but like on many other occasions this season Latics failed to make their advantage pay and the result was inevitable. The sending off of Jose Baxter was also going to have a bearing on forthcoming games, however, that problem was quickly forgotten when Paul Scholes walked out of the club two days later.

Losing the second manager this season, this one after only 31 days just about summed up the farce that this season has become. The fans turned on owner Abdallah Lemsagam due to his alleged interference in team affairs, but any plans they might have had to demonstrate their wrath disappeared under the Boundary Park rain clouds as the next home game against Tranmere was postponed.

Also postponed was the game at Newport due to International call ups which left just one more game in the month, a home game against Grimsby with Peter Wild back in the management hot seat.

Despite the worry that recent off field events might have an influence on the game, Latics scored a goal in each half without reply and the impressive debut of Alex Iacovitti gave some hope for the remaining games. Given recent events at Boundary Park, March wasn’t much different from the rest of the season. It might not be to everyone’s taste but at least Oldham fans can claim that they are fully prepared for anything life in League Two throws at them.

Can Bury Take Advantage of Lincoln’s Tricky Fixture Run-In To Be Crowned Champions

In today’s football calendar there are very few weekends off, so Bury’s postponement against Cambridge last weekend means it’s been two weeks since a late Nicky Maynard winner saw the Shakers steal all three points over Stevenage, with a performance typical of ‘the hallmark of champions’.

Since that dramatic afternoon, Bury are still capable of winning League Two as the season enters the home straight. In order to take the top spot, they’ll need to avoid any more defeats, home or away. That may seem almost impossible on paper but Bury hasn’t got much choice with Danny Cowley’s Lincoln still six points clear.

With only 8 (Lincoln) and 9 (Bury) games left to play, Ryan Lowe will be hoping for something extra special to end his superb first season in charge at Gigg Lane. Bury have 27 points left to play for, meaning that right now a total of 97 points are the maximum Lowe’s men can reach. Lincoln on 76 points have an achievable target of 100, but can’t afford more than one slip up realistically due to the gap at the top of the table so tight.

What’s likely is neither team will suffer more than two stumbles before the end of the season, but a few stand out matches could cause the odd issue, however.

Back-to-back games against playoff chasing Colchester and Carlisle will be no easy task, the same goes for Tranmere in the final away game who sit in the top seven as things stand. For Lincoln, their games will bring a smile to a Bury fan dreaming of the League Two end of season number one spot.

They’ll play the same opposition as Bury who are listed above plus MK Dons who have a puncher’s chance of automatic promotion. A home game taking on Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield will also throw up a different challenge altogether, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Retro Football Shirt Cushions

Many Bury fans will relish the thought of promotion alone this season, going up as champions will merely be a bonus to what’s already been accomplished. In Lincoln’s game at Mansfield last Monday night, several shakers fans would rather have seen an Imps win than three points for former manager David Flitcroft and Mansfield for example.

Bury’s own ambitions will probably rest on how many, or how few points Lincoln drop before the season is out. Therefore, looking at Lincoln’s run in fixtures, fans can dream at least.

What Scholes Should Learn From the Lincoln Defeat

Losing an away game against a side who are top of the league isn’t the end of the world, although you would think so given some of the comments on social media yesterday. What slim chance Latics had of sneaking into the playoffs, has now disappeared and the remainder of the season will be played out with the only goal being to achieve a top half league position.It has been Oldham’s lack of consistency which has led them here of course. The fighting spirit we saw which defeated Fulham in the FA Cup has been replaced by vapid indifference. That is surely down to a lack of motivation, and Scholes may well have already targeted certain players to ship out at the end of the season who haven’t really shown any interest in getting us out of this division.

When two forward players in Chris O Grady and Urko Vera are introduced to audible groans from the visiting supporters, the question has to be asked as to whether the squad we have has been strong enough to compete at this level. There are a lot of supporters who don’t think so. All the players who have competed at a higher level need to take a long hard look at themselves and decide whether they want to be remembered for being part of the solution, or part of the problem.

Scholes will have already seen enough of League Two to have realised that the teams who are at the top of the division aren’t there because they play a pretty, free flowing attacking game. Quite the opposite in fact, with Lincoln’s bullish, direct approach coupled with an uncanny ability to fall over at every opportunity seemingly being the key to success. The same can be said of MK Dons, Mansfield and Tranmere.

Nobody at Boundary Park would wish to see Athletic adopt a similar approach, but the one thing I have noticed is the sheer size of some of the players in this division. To counteract the height of Lincoln’s players, the introduction of Alex Iacovitti, on loan from Notts Forest and 6′ 10″ might have been interesting. Instead, Latics back line were battered and subjected to an aerial bombardment that they couldn’t handle. Any summer signings should meet a minimum height requirement or, we are going to face similar problems next season.

One thing Scholes can’t do a lot about is change the mass charge towards the referee whenever there is a foul on an opposing player. It seems to have got worse this season and the mobbing of the referee by the Lincoln players after Jose Baxters foul, contributed to the decision to send him off.

Maybe a mass clear out is needed at the end of the season and, a squad assembled specifically to match those who are going to be heading out of this division in May. That would probably require a certain amount of expenditure and whether that is made available is another story.

Oldham Face Top Of The League Lincoln Tonight Hoping To Upset The Form Book

It can be reasonably argued that Oldham face a heavy defeat at Lincoln tonight. The League Two leaders may have had a few draws at home in recent weeks but they haven’t lost a league game since Boxing Day, and despite the attentions of Bury and Mansfield, remain favourites to take the title.

They have achieved top spot by being aggressive and direct which isn’t pretty to watch but in League Two serves as a successful potion. Latics on the other hand, whilst at times being able to play in an aggressive manner, often fail to keep that up for the entire game and have suffered the consequences.

It is difficult to see how Paul Scholes can change his side defensively other than to bring in untried youngsters. There would be no better folly than to pitch them in against the league leaders and, ask them to put in a better defensive performance than that which has already been displayed.

It would be far better to instruct the side to keep the ball for longer periods. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the ball continually given away when a little concentration could reap rewards.

I am at a complete loss to explain why Latics ‘switch off’ late in the game and gift the opposition winning goals but giving the ball away has a great deal to do with it. Assistant manager Mick Priest standing in for Paul Scholes on Monday, also hinted at the lack of concentration and the fact that several of the players look fatigued.

It is difficult for many Latics fans to swallow the idea that we may get turned over by a club that was in the National League three seasons ago but, there have been a lot of hard facts we have had to swallow in the last few years.

It is possible that Lincoln might be suffering from an attack of the jitters but they will certainly fancy themselves against Latics. Especially as a win would take them five points clear at the top with just nine games remaining.

If Oldham can grab an early goal (and recent form suggests that we are likely to get one goal at least) then concentrate sufficiently for the remainder of the game, they could cause an upset. Lincoln arrived at Boundary Park in the fixture back in November fulling expecting to take advantage of Latics poor form but could only manage a draw.

A positive result tonight might show Latics fans that Scholes has fixed the lack of concentration and is moving in the right direction .

Lowe Scores a Hat Trick For Bury With Top Award

Ryan Lowe has had plenty to cheer about in his first full season as manager of Bury and, the awards keep on coming with the Shakers boss again the man of the hour.

With Bury still yet to taste league defeat in 2019, Lowe was named manager of the month for February,  the third time he’s picked up the award this season.  With Bury 2nd and on the verge of promotion with only 10 games to play, everything seems to be shaping up nicely for a grand stand finish at Gigg Lane between now and May.

It’s the second time in as many months Lowe has won the accolade, yet he knows more than anybody that most important award is still to be achieved this season.

“I’m over the moon to get a hat-trick of Manager of the Month awards for the season, but as I’ve said before, it’s not just me, it’s my staff, my players.

“It’s nice to have them accolades, it’s recognition we’re playing the right way, but ultimately, it’s just another personal accolade, with the big picture at the end of the season. I’d happily trade them all in for where we want to get to’.

Bury sit just two points off Lincoln-having played a game more than Danny Cowley’s men, but the form guide will show the Shakers are more than worthy to return to League One at the first time of asking, following on from their relegation last April.

Despite being knocked out of the Checkatrade Trophy by League One Portsmouth, February was again an impressive month for Lowe’s side, picking up 10 points from a possible 12, one that included a derby win over Oldham and season defining wins at both Morecambe and Exeter.

The Shakers have been the EFL’s entertainers this season, never mind in League Two where already 25 goals have been scored by Bury in 2019, more than another club in England’s top four divisions.

Yet despite these eye-catching statistics, Lowe won’t be satisfied until his side are promoted, no matter how many individual awards he picks up before the end of the season.