Big Match Preview: Gillingham v. Imps

As Lincoln City’s search for league points continues Chris Sutton’s side face Gillingham a team that were relegated from League One last season, on Saturday, 21st, August.

So far, City have lost all three of their opening fixtures including last Saturday’s first game of the season at Sincil Bank against top of the table Torquay. The trip to the Priestfield Stadium at the weekend will not be an easy one for the Imps, and Sutton admits that Gillingham will have a win in their sights ahead of the game.

New loan signing Ben Hutchinson talks to the press following his move from Celtic Park to Sincil Bank. Photo: Tom Farmery

He said: “They’ve started off with two draws, I think it’s fair to say they’ll be looking at us and probably fancy their chances. They’ve got a big threat in (Adebayo) Akinfenwa who’s scored a lot of goals at this level. How we deal with him will have a big bearing on the game.

“I think out of all the teams coming down last season, I think they were particularly unlucky and they’ll be looking to bounce back. As I said we had a tough start on paper but going into the game these games we are 50/50.

“Maybe we need a break or something to go our way but ultimately we’ve got to defend better and take our chances. It’s as simple as that, we’re not getting totally outgunned and were not outplayed in the two league games and you do need a break.

“We’ve lost two games but there probably won’t be another side who don’t go through the season without losing two games back-to-back, we’ve just got to make sure it’s not three.”

There has been a varied amount of negativity surrounding City’s current league position, yet the former Celtic goal machine believes that there has been some positives to take from the season so far.

“I think in the two league games there’s not been a lot in them. We’ve had some good matches in those games, things just haven’t gone for us. With regards to the Leeds game you play a side who are superior opposition which they are, they are better players that’s why they’re at that level.

“It isn’t a great start I’m well aware of that. But am I panicking? No. Do I believe in the players? Yes I do. We’ve got to have the grittyness and determination and the steeliness to get out of this situation but I do believe we will be fine. But as I say it’s about results”, the 37-year-old said.

This week has also seen the Lincoln boss dip into the loan market, something that was done successfully last year, through the arrival of Davide Somma, who by all accounts saved the Imps from being relegated along with local rivals Grimsby.

Ben Hutchinson joined City on Wednesday, 18th, August, on a season-long deal from Sutton’s former side Celtic. The 22-year-old scored twice against Lincoln in the 4-1 pre-season defeat to the Bhoys at Sincil Bank in late July. Yet the striker says he doesn’t have a goal scoring target as such but just wants to concentrate on turning his career around.

The powerful forward said: “My aim is to help the team and to get my career back on track. I won’t say I’m going to score this amount, every game I play I want to score so hopefully I will. It’s an opportunity to come here and try to make a name for myself again. I didn’t need much convincing (to join City) because I wasn’t going to get any football, so to get some it’s a bonus.

“I just want to get my career back on track and see what happens. I want to try and score as many goals as I can and help the team, I don’t really have anything other than that. I’ve probably not done as well as I probably should of and it’s time to knuckle down really.”

It is highly likely Hutchinson will be included in the starting eleven that will play Gillingham in the third league game of the season. The Gills have recorded just two points this season drawing both of their games against Cheltenham and Hereford respectively.

Andy Hessenthaler’s biggest threat lies in frontman Akinfenwa and it is up to City’s faltering defence to regroup in order protect Joe Anyon’s goal. Chris Sutton will be hoping that the arrival of Hutchinson will ensure that Lincoln come away from Kent at the weekend, with at least a point to their name on the league table.

The Linc’s prediction: Gillingham 1-1 Imps

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