Big Match Preview: Imps v. Crewe

Lincoln City recorded their first win of the new season last Saturday, beating Gillingham 1-0, with the only goal of the game coming from Cian Hughton.

This weekend City host Crewe at Sincil Bank, and after they thrashed Barnet 7-0 it is likely that the Railwaymen will have another win in their sights against Lincoln.


Along with Ian Pearce, Jamie Clapham is one of the more experienced players that Chris Sutton believes provided a more assured performance against Gillingham. Photo: Tom Farmery

Crewe’s emphatic win came after they lost their first two games against Hereford and Cheltenham. Despite a slow start, Imps manager Chris Sutton believes that Crewe are one of the best footballing sides in League Two.

Straight-talking Sutton said: “They’re actually a big threat from set pieces with [David] Artell and [Joel] Grant. They’re all good. The midfield always pass the ball very nicely, they’ll look for the threat in behind, probably more so than they did last year but they’re a massive threat in the league.

“One thing we mustn’t do is be ragged against them. We certainly need to make sure we have shape about us, make sure we’re switched on at the back and get our distances right because they will exploit.

“I think they’re the best team in this division in terms of the way they play and certainly the forwards are extremely dangerous.”

The experienced minds of Ian Pearce and Jamie Clapham featured in City’s 1-0 victory away to Gillingham, resulting in an assured style of play. Sutton feels this has a calming effect on the younger players in the side, creating better performances overall.

“I think experience is essential at any level, albeit you get young players who come in who look comfortable as well and are assured. What I would say is I think if you look, I mean I don’t pay any attention to stats but Joe Anyon hasn’t had overly a great deal of work to do this season, and I think if you look at chances against Gillingham and chances against Torquay, they’re probably similar in the number of efforts on goal.

“We got a break against Gillingham and against Torquay. We should’ve been up yet we weren’t up, they scored and we lost the game. Then we panicked in the last 20 minutes. There are fine lines — we’ve got to take our chances when they come and try not to concede.

“I think Ian [Pearce] certainly steady’s the ship at the back when he plays. The players around him know their jobs better. That’s not a criticism of anyone else — it’s just that he’s good enough to play at the highest level and the players around him are benefitting from his experience,” the City boss said.

If Lincoln do record three points against Crewe they could be in the top six of the table come Saturday evening, erasing the first two defeats to Rotherham and Torquay from the memory. The former Chelsea striker knows that it would be a major morale boost to his side if they can produce a back-to-back win at the weekend.

“It would mean a lot in terms of confidence. It’s early days at the moment it seemed to be doom and gloom before the game at Gillingham as they had two draws and we hadn’t had a win. Then we go there and go above them, but it’s too early to read into things.

“I would say that we’ve had a tough start. On paper it’s tough, but I don’t think three points is a total disaster from the first three league games, albeit we wandered more – but it’s a tough league.

“Back-to-back wins would mean a lot. I think Chesterfield’s going to be tough and then I think we have three out of four at home and a run of games whereby come the end of October I think we’ll have a better idea of what sort of level we’re at and where we stand.”

Saturday’s game will provide loanee Ben Hutchinson with his first chance to impress the home crowd at Sincil Bank. Crewe lost 1-0 to Ipswich after extra-time on Tuesday night, and with the likes of Clayton Donaldson and Joel Grant they will prove a stern test for City.

The Linc’s prediction: Imps 1-3 Crewe

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