City claimed a point on Saturday at Sincil Bank against Reading as the festive period got underway.

Michael Skubala made a few changes to the side that lost to Accrington Stanley on Tuesday in the BSM Trophy. Lukas Jensen started in goal behind a back three of TJ Eyoma, Adam Jackson and Paudie O’Connor. Lasse Sorensen continued at right wing-back, while Jack Burroughs came back in on the left. Ethan Hamilton started in midfield alongside Ted Bishop, who replaced Ethan Erhahon. The Scotsman missed out on the matchday squad with an injury that he picked up in training. Dylan Duffy and Jovon Makama came into attack after coming off the bench on Tuesday, alongside Danny Mandroiu.

There was once again no Jaden Brown on the bench for the Imps, with Skubala naming Jordan Wright, Alex Mitchell, Sean Roughan, Ali Smith, Mide Shodipo, Hakeeb Adelakun and Jack Vale as his substitutes.

We started the game, the stronger of the two sides and within the first few minutes, we took the lead on a surprisingly mild afternoon at Sincil Bank. Bishop worked it well on the right hand side, before firing a ball towards Makama in the area. The 19-year-old’s presence was enough to force Nelson Abbey to turn the ball into his own net.

Credit: Graham Burrell

It soon became clear after the goal that Reading were actually a good side. Their league position obviously isn’t an accurate representation of what they can do on the pitch, and that’s fair considering the problems surrounding the club. It’s hard for everyone to perform in them circumstances, but they’ve started to pick up some decent results in the league recently and after yesterday’s performance, I’d be extremely surprised if they finish the season in the bottom four.

Just look at the side they put out yesterday. David Button is a top goalkeeper, even if we didn’t test him for 90 minutes. Tom Holmes and Andy Yiadom have played over 100 times in the Championship each, while Harvey Knibbs is a big prospect at League One level. Their squad has massive quality, Lewis Wing is someone I’d have in an Imps shirt given the chance, while Sam Smith is an experienced EFL striker, something we lack at this moment in time due to injuries. Are they 23rd in the league? Yes. Should they be 23rd in the league? Definitely not. That isn’t an excuse for the performance we saw yesterday, but it certainly was a factor in it.

Once Reading got into their rhythm, the quality I detailed above showed. The problem for us was we allowed the visitors to get control of the game, and following on from that we never got it back. That’s probably down to the loss of Erhahon in the middle. He’s a very similar loss to what Liam Bridcutt used to be under Michael Appleton, and we felt his lack of presence yesterday. Hamilton will put in the miles and get forward well, and while I’m a big fan of Bishop, he isn’t the same type of the player as Erhahon, so we really lacked that midfield enforcer.

Credit: Graham Burrell

On the subject of Bishop, I thought he was MotM by quite some way. He forced the goal and he had our only few attacking moments in the game. It was nice to see him play 80 minutes and get through it without any issues (hopefully). I personally believe Bishop is one of the best creative players in the league, and he’s got that ability to change a game in an instant. We need to keep him fit because we are a better side with him in it. He was a bright spark in a pretty poor afternoon on Saturday, and if I was the manager of Lincoln City, he’d be the centre of my plans for the rest of the season. Fitness is always the thing that comes up with Bishop, but for the sake of him and the club, I really hope he can get a run of games from now until the end of the season to put him in a really strong position going into Skubala’s first pre-season.

The game itself wasn’t very exciting, even from a neutral perspective. Reading had a few chances but I never felt Jensen was really tested in goal. Wing had some dangerous moments, especially from set pieces but apart from that, our Danish keeper had a fairly comfortable afternoon. The visitors did have two goals disallowed – one for a foul and another for offside. I thought they were both correct decisions at the time, and looking back at them I still feel that way.

Reading did deserve to be level though, they had us under so much pressure and it was only a matter of time until they broke through our defence. We managed to get to half-time, but it didn’t take them long to get their equaliser after the break. Knibbs found himself through on goal quite easily, after some defending that we will probably feel disappointed with on reflection. The former Cambridge man kept his cool and slotted the ball past Jensen to bring the score levels.

Credit: Graham Burrell

The away side didn’t celebrate. They got the ball and wanted to get going again. That shows how much better they were than us, it’s not often an away side at Sincil Bank wouldn’t celebrate an equaliser but Reading knew we weren’t at our best and wanted to punish us.

Skubala tried shuffling the team to get back into the game, but it didn’t really work. Smith came on at half-time but didn’t have an impact on the game, while Haks and Vale failed to move us up the pitch with any conviction. Shodipo not getting on the pitch was disappointing – especially after his performance on Tuesday night. I think the former QPR man will leave in January, which will be a big shame because he could’ve had a much bigger impact for us in this second spell, but for whatever reason he just hasn’t been able to get the minutes on the pitch. When he has played, he’s looked good and he even scored to rescue a draw against Port Vale. I’d love to see him play against Derby after he scored there last season, but with a lack of minutes in the league I just don’t see Skubala taking the risk in such a big game.

In reality, we were poor on Saturday but we’re just under a month into the reign of Skubala. Things aren’t going to change overnight. I trust the new head coach alongside the people that run the club and I firmly believe he will make us a Championship side in the next few seasons, we’ve just got to build towards it and that doesn’t change with one result.

Onto Derby. UTI.

By Joe Briley

AllLincoln Site Owner.