The Imps exited the BSM Trophy on Tuesday night, with Accrington Stanley scoring late into stoppage time.
Michael Skubala named a strong team, after putting on emphasis on cup competitions previously. Lukas Jensen started in goal, leaving back-up keeper Jordan Wright on the bench. TJ Eyoma and Paudie O’Connor kept their places after keeping a clean sheet on Saturday, while there was a rest for Adam Jackson, with Alex Mitchell coming into the side. Lasse Sorensen started on the right-side of a back five, with Sean Roughan coming into the team on the left. Ethan Hamilton and Ethan Erhahon started in a surprisingly strong midfield – Ali Smith, who was expected to start, wasn’t in the squad. Mide Shodipo made a rare start in attack, with Danny Mandroiu on the other side, while Jack Vale came into attack, replacing Jovon Makama.
Ted Bishop was once again available on the bench, after completing 30 minutes at the DW Stadium on Saturday. Hakeeb Adelakun came back into the squad after missing out completely on the Imps’ trip to Wigan.
In a game which many expected the Imps to win, there were few chances for either side and in the first half, Skubala’s side struggled to get control of the game, with Accrington pressing high up the pitch and forcing the Imps long. One big positive for City was the performance of Shodipo on the right side. The former QPR winger was attempting to get chances for City, and he almost got himself an assist but none of his teammates could get onto the end of his dangerous ball.
Accrington could’ve taken within the first ten minutes, but Jensen managed to get down low to secure the ball. Other than that, there wasn’t much action in the final third, although there was some excitement towards the end of the half. The first chance came from Longelo for Accrington, who gave Roughan plenty of problems throughout the game. The former got past the latter and fired a shot, aiming for the top corner, fortunately Jensen was equal to it.
Shodipo played Sorensen down the right towards the end of the half, with a great pass, but the Dane’s effort from the edge of the area was high and wide. The Imps had a corner just before the half-time whistle – thanks to Shodipo’s hard work once again. Mitchell won the first header, but once again the effort wasn’t on target.
We needed to up the intensity in the second half, but worryingly it was the hosts that were fired up as the teams came out for the second period. Accrington came out with loads of intensity, Longelo had another effort from the edge of the box, but once again Jensen was equal to it. A free header was held by the Imps stopper, ending a manic period of the game for the hosts, with three shots on target in as many minutes.
Skubala sensed trouble for City, and looked to the bench and changed the shape. We went to a back four, with Sorensen on the right wing. Vale and Shodipo were replaced by Makama and Bishop as we searched for the opening goal. I thought it was harsh on Shodipo, he had been the only worry for Accrington’s defence so I didn’t see him being taken off so early. The 25-year-old has certainly done his chances of earning an opportunity in the league no harm at all with his performance.
Bishop had an immediate impact once he came on. Sorensen won the ball in the final third and played the midfield through on goal. Joe Walsh was equal to Ted’s effort and put the ball out for a corner. Nothing came from the resulting corner, but the Imps did have the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later. Bishop was the one who put the ball in the net after a nice move, involving the other substitute, Makama.
Accrington also thought they’d taken the lead in the 66th minute. Nolan scored with a lovely finish on the left-hand side, but the linesman surprisingly raised his flag for offside. Everyone in the stadium thought it was a goal, as did I on iFollow but thankfully it didn’t stand. Chances kept coming, with a much more open game thanks to the Imps moving to a back four. Duffy joined the party for City, and picked up from where he left off in the Cambridge game a few weeks ago. Along with Bishop and Makama, the Irishman looked dangerous.
Makama almost put the Imps ahead, after being presented with a tap-in thanks to Sorensen’s low ball into the box. The young striker couldn’t get his BSM Trophy tally to two for the season, with Walsh equal to the effort. I thought Makama had one of his best cameos in a City shirt, he’s starting to look like the complete package. He uses his size and physicality to good effect, and now he’s getting in good positions to score too.
The final chance of the game knocked the Imps out of the BSM Trophy. Longelo finally got his reward for his impressive performance. Roughan failed to close down the winger, in hope that he’d take him on as he’d done previously in the game, but the winger cut onto his left foot and fired an effort put Jensen into the top corner to set Accrington up with a home tie against Bolton Wanderers next month.
There wasn’t many positives on a bleak night for City, but this game now marks the half way point of the season, with no cup competitions left. We may be out of the trophy, but the positive is always the ability to concentrate on the league going into the next few weeks and the cup exit gives us 12 days off at the start of January, which may be crucial to get transfer business over the line, and players back to fitness.
In terms of on the pitch, Shodipo and Bishop were big standouts, and Makama too. Jensen probably edged it for MotM with some impressive saves to keep us in it, but he didn’t have too much competition for that accolade.
We finally head back to Sincil Bank this weekend, with Reading visiting. It should be a good game, and hopefully we can come away from it with three points before a very busy few weeks.