Five games into the new football league season and Lincoln City currently find themselves 18th in League Two with only four points to their name. A minority of Lincoln fans have recently called on manager Chris Sutton for dramatic changes to prevent a dismal start to the season progressing into something much worse.
City play a Barnet side on Saturday, who last season narrowly avoided relegation, and are currently positioned just a place above Lincoln in 17th.
Lincoln suffered a 2-1 away defeat to Chesterfield last Saturday and if it wasn’t for a late goal from Celtic loanee Ben Hutchinson in the 88th minute, City would’ve come away with nothing to cherish. Sutton does believe, however, that the defeat was a fair result.
He said: “I think that was the one game this season other than Leeds, where we were deservedly beaten, we could’ve snatched something at the end. We started ok we had a couple of sniffs, but in fairness to them they’re a good side, they’ll be up there.
“Going in at half-time we had conceded off a corner which was bitterly dissapointing for us I think we had more than our fair share of corners ourselves but that’s the way it went.
“Second half we were looking for a reaction which never really came until the last five or ten minutes, and they outplayed us second half. In that respect we were disappointed.”
After the game winger Mustapha Carayol admitted that he was to blame for his part in City’s defeat and this, Sutton feels, is the type of honesty that some other players in the squad should possess.
“All 11 players know how they played. We had too many players who didn’t perform, some players handle it in different ways. Some players are more fragile than others, I was always honest about my own performance, that’s not saying you should go out and shout from the rooftops.
“It’s nice to see, there is some honest players about, so hopefully in that respect that we’ve got a few players who think they underperformed then we’re looking for a big reaction on Saturday.”
The Bees have so far registered five points, with their first win of the season coming last weekend against Cheltenham after a 3-1 victory. However Barnet do have a very different outfit of that which lost to City at Sincil Bank 1-0 last season. Steve Kabba signed a contract at the Underhill Stadium in July, and his tenacious record as a striker is certain to leave any defender in the Football League’s basement division on the back foot.
Even though the Bees will arrive at Sincil Bank buoyed by their three points last weekend, Imps boss Sutton knows that his side have a good chance of recording their first win of the season on home turf if they play as expected.
“These games going into them are 50/50, like a lot of games. We have to perform, we didn’t perform last week [and] hopefully that stands us in good stead on the law of averages. We’ve got players here who on their day can cause major problems.
“But there’s no point in talking about we’re going to do this we’re going to do that, we have to go and perform. I can say a lot of things about what I dream about, it could be 25 games where I’d like to see us but listen that’s the way it goes – when players cross the white line they have to perform, I pick the side and that’s it.”
Albert Jarrett returns to the City starting line-up after he was away with Sierra Leone on international duty. Jarrett missed both the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash with Rotherham and also the defeat to Chesterfield in the league.
The summer signing played his part in Sierra Leone’s 1-1 draw against Egypt in Cairo after nearly scoring from a free-kick. The fixture against Egypt was Jarrett’s third match for his country and playing international football he believes is beneficial to him as a footballer.
“It was a good experience obviously, Egypt are a big team in Africa and even now across the world they are respected.
“It was always going to be a tough game but obviously it was a nice experience to be a part of and luckily enough I got to play in the game and we got a good result as well. It was a shame to miss the two games for my club but that’s just football sometimes.”
Barnet is his former side yet he holds no grudges and all he wants on Saturday is a City win. The 25-year-old said: “Playing Barnet doesn’t mean anything to me it’s just another game and it’ll be nice for us to get the win. I’m not going to try and make too much of it, I’m just going to take it as another league game and put in a good performance.”
Andy Hutchinson is a major doubt after receiving a knock to his toe in the reserves game against Middlesborough. Drewe Broughton and Gavin McCallum both resumed full training at the start of the week but they will face late fitness tests. Ian Pearce is a possibly but has a lingering back problem that could rule him out of Saturday’s game.
The Linc’s prediction: Imps 1 Barnet 0
If last week’s defensive problems are not eradicated Steve Kabba could further Lincoln’s agony. On the other hand Albert Jarrett will be fresh for action and Ben Hutchinson may pose a strong threat after his confidence was boosted after scoring last Saturday.