Winter is coming… well it’s here in real life – freezing outside as I write this post! Anyway back to the game, this episode will take you through the busy months of December 2024 & January 2025 as we have no less than 17 games to get through as well as the transfer window to contend with. The fun never stops!
Last time I left you we were just over a third of the way into the season and were occupying an automatic promotion place sitting in 2nd. Not entirely sure how we’re doing this having lost our 3 best players in the summer and being expected to finish 16th, but as I said last time, this league is a marathon not a sprint and I could very easily watch it all crumble over the next 2 months.
So without further ado, let’s see how we did!
Here we go then, into the incredibly busy period where you just don’t have time to think or prepare. Squads all across the league will be tested to the max and I was concerned this is where we would be found out in terms of depth, but what else could we do other than just take each game at a time and see where we were at the end of it?
December itself had 9 games overall, 8 in the league and 1 in the Papa John’s Trophy.
4 wins and 4 draws later it was another unbeaten month, in the league at least! Saying that I was still disappointed with a couple of the results to be honest. The first game against Luton finished 0-0 despite them only having 1 shot against us in the whole match, you can imagine my thoughts after that one. We were then knocked out of the Papa John’s Trophy in the 2nd round of the Northern Section, I wasn’t really bothered about how we did in this competition and rotated heavily, but even so, I was disappointed to go out to Mansfield.
Another draw in the league followed against Wycombe (2-2), which actually meant we had drawn 3 games on the bounce in the league and really needed a victory. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long as it came in the next match vs Wimbledon (3-1). The game was tied at 1-1 until they had a player sent off in the 56th minute and from there it was a case of attack vs defence until we could break them down.
We were back to drawing games in the next match however, but on this occasion I didn’t really mind as it was away at top of the league Ipswich (2-2). We went 1-0 down before fighting back to 1-1, then 2-1 up in the 67th minute before being pegged back straight away in the 68th minute to make it 2-2. It was one of those ones where after we went 2-1 up I shouted “FOCUS” only for us to concede straight from kick off… I was just sat there like right – guess I’ll shut up then! Fortunately we were straight back to winning ways against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light (2-0).
A trip to the Ricoh Arena brought another 0-0 draw against Coventry… but someone please tell me how?
How do you have 10 shots on target with an expected goals of 1.31? Were we just shooting from the halfway line? Someone please tell me! Anyway a strong finish to the month came as right winger Josh Eppiah scored 4 goals in the last 2 games to give us convincing wins over Newport County (3-0) and a resurgent Sheffield Wednesday (2-0). Which meant after a great month the table looked like this:
Ok. Right. I’m not getting excited… you are! No but in all seriousness I just wasn’t expecting this at all this season. As we go into the last 20 games of the season we are 7 points off top with a game in hand. With 6 league games to come next month our position would be a lot clearer come the end of January 2025.
Before we find out how we got on with the matches I just want to let you know of a few signings we made early in January:
Yeah I don’t know why but I just went a bit keeper crazy in January! In mid December we signed 24 year old Toby Savin (GK) as a free agent, rated 2.5 star with 4 star potential it was a deal that was too good to turn down. 4 star rated regen striker Paul Devlin joined on loan from our senior affiliate Liverpool to add some firepower for the remainder of the season.
Andrew Fisher (GK) rated 3.5 star was signed for only £50k to become our first choice keeper for the rest of the season. Another goalkeeper Oliver Bosworth became available for only £33k, again as he was 3 star rated with 5 star potential for this price it was far too good to turn down! Finally our biggest transfer fee spent so far in the save, £300k was produced to sign 3.5 star rated CB Ro-Shaun Williams from QPR.
Overall I was very happy with our business and in Andrew Fisher, Ro-Shaun Williams and Paul Devlin I was hopeful we had added some real quality to push the team towards automatic promotion or the play-offs. In terms of outgoings…
A very successful month! The players above were not needed and we managed to receive about £450k all together, meaning so far this season including the summer window we had received about £2m in transfer fees and only spent around £510k, which the board were delighted with as I’m sure you can imagine!
Anyway back to the football. Would it be a happy new year for our boys in the league and FA cup? Let’s find out…
The result on new years day was certainly not the best start. Not only that but it was the 3rd time in all competitions Mansfield had beaten us this season (0-2), they were taking Barry Town’s title of my bogey team over here in England (BLOODY BARRY!! – If you know you’re a real DP FM follower).
Fortunately we bounced straight back with a win over title rivals Ipswich Town in the FA Cup 3rd round (1-0). Max Power missed a crucial penalty in the 66th minute as we slumped to a 0-0 draw against Colchester. From there it was a clean sweep of victories in the league for the rest of January! Paul Devlin got his first goal for Lincoln in an entertaining 3-0 victory against Wigan.
Back to back 2-1 victories away to Plymouth and then at home against MK Dons were no where near as close as the scorelines made out. Morgan Rogers (LW) scored the winner in both games, making it 3 games in a row he had netted in the league. This was a great sight to see as he had been more of a bit part player in the first half of the season, but he didn’t let that get him down and when called upon during this period of heavy rotation he has more than staked his claim to be starting more in the future.
We were then knocked out of the FA Cup in the tough 4th Round fixture vs Cardiff that followed, to be 2-0 down after 21 minutes was less than ideal but from there we had more than enough chances and were unlucky not to equalise to take it to extra time, as it was the game finished 1-2. Rounding the month off was a great one for the neutral at home against Doncaster, we twice took the lead before being pegged back until our star man Quillan Vaughan scored an 81st minute winner before Doncaster had a 90th minute equaliser ruled out for offside! When the game is on your side the game is really on your side!!
And with that the manic winter months and 17 fixtures that made them up were done… breathe. To have only lost once in the league during this busy period where we were playing games across 3 competitions was a real credit to the squad – everyone really did play their part! With less than a third of the season to go how was the table looking I hear you ask?
Ipswich stuttered – big time! They lost 3 of their 6 league games in January, winning twice. This meant that we were 1 point behind them with a game in hand with 14 games to go… we couldn’t could we? No of course we couldn’t… BUT COULD WE?!?
Next time we will be going through the final months of our first season in professional football. Only 14 games across February, March, April & May stood in our way of being promoted to the championship! Imagine that? An unemployed nobody to Championship football in 5 seasons… I need to stop getting ahead of myself – I have achieved nothing yet!
Would we be rewarded with the league title in our first season as a professional manager or does the after effects of such a busy winter period take it’s toll on our squad leading us to throw all our great work down the drain at the last minute? Find out in the next episode which will drop on Monday 8th February 2021.
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