Lincoln City F.C. defeated Accrington Stanley F.C. in the opening EFL League One match of the season on 3 August 2019, at Sincil Bank Stadium in Lincoln, England. It is the first match of the regular season for both teams. It was a match that pitted the last two champions of EFL League Two against one another, and saw The Imps prevail at home. Midfielder Michael O'Connor opened scoring late in the first half with a 35th minute goal. It was an unfortunate exchange for Accrington who were not given a corner after Lincoln goalkeeper Josh Vickers had clearly tipped a free kick by Sean McConville over the crossbar. It was however ruled by referee Tony Harrington that it had not been touched, and The Imps went on to score on the ensuing possession. It could have easily been quickly 2 or even 3 nil after Accrington goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov found himself well out of position after making an aggressive attempt to play the ball in the 38th minute, but Lincoln floundered that opportunity by heading the ball well over the goal. The game went in at the half 1-0 in favor of the home side.
In the second half both clubs seemed to have periods where they pushed the ball, and followed by lapses in concentration. In the 48th minute it was Evitimov who was the hero, making the first of 3 jaw dropping stops in the half. Late in the game Accrington became more aggressive in tactics, and this lead to more chances for both clubs. In the 81st minute, last year's Lincoln leading scorer, John Akinde, who has just subbed on put the final nail in Accrington's coffin with a penalty kick goal. Although it was a questionable call in this situation for Harrington to award a penalty, there had been several other times in the game when he had let one go. Ultimately, it was going to be a matter of time for Accrington to concede a penalty as many times as they put themselves in position to throughout the match. Combine that with the fact that they really only seriously challenged Vickers 2 or 3 times in the match, today it looked like Accrington who was the newly promoted side in this match.
Five Takeaways From The Match
The best player on the field for either side by a wide margin was Jorge Grant. The 24-year-old looked dominant at times, and most impressive was not only his combination of skills both on and off the ball, but also his size and strength. I expect that he could be an absolute monster in League One this year. It's always impressive when a guy can clearly dominate a game without scoring in it, and Grant passed that test today.
It is clear that John Coleman's side has a lot of work cut out for them on the attack. Today, they started a pair of youngsters up front, with Colby Bishop in the number 9 role, and Joe Pritchard playing the number 10. Pritchard is a highly touted signing from the Tottenham Academy, but is just 22-years-old and extremely inexperienced. He did get a nice shot off in the 18th minute that might have been Vicker's hardest stop in the 1st half. Other times he looked a bit lost in the role, and was the first player subbed off in the 70th minute, when he was replace by Wilson Carvalho. Although he has been with the club for just 10 days, Accrington seemed to move the ball better with the more experience Carvalho on the pitch.
As for Bishop, he has quite a bit of experience for being year 22-years-old himself, but the has been at the non-league level. I give him an incomplete for today because it is hard to rate a guy playing in his role when the team isn't getting him the ball. The question then becomes is it because they aren't getting him the ball, or because he isn't getting in position to get the ball. Today, I am going to go with they weren't getting the ball because the Accrington attack was dysfunctional as a whole today. One of Accrington's best chances did come in the 71st minute on a play that involved Bishop and McConville who had shown some chemistry in preseason friendlies.
I have a new nickname from Accrington goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov, and that is Mr. Excitement. That's because anytime the ball comes near his something exciting is going to happen. As mentioned above, he made 3 world class saves in this match, and 1 world class blunder. He is the most aggressive player I have ever seen at the position. The tends to be both a good and a bad thing. For those of you familiar with vinyl records, it's as if Evtimov is playing at 45 and everyone else on the field is playing at 33. At one point he made a fantastic play on a corner kick, and the iFollow commentators quipped that it seemed like he decided he was going to play the ball before it was even kicked. It is that mentality that he plays with on every play. When he does get the ball he often rolls it out before his backs are even ready to receive it, and this hampers their ability to work the ball up from the back. At one point today, he also over kicked everyone and had the ball roll all the way out of bounds for a goal kick the other way. If he can learn to just slow down the game a bit and wait for things to develop, and when, and when not to aggressively play the ball then the sky is the limit with his talent.
You really have to hand it to Lincoln manager Danny Cowley for having his club ready for week one. For a newly promoted side that had a lot of new acquisitions, and has an attack centered around a new player in Grant, they looked in midseason form at times today. Not starting last seasons leading scorer Akinde, and then brining him in at the perfect time to impact the game was another nice move on his part. Vickers, who was obviously good enough to get a clean sheet today is a stabilizing force in net as well, and having a consistent veteran presence at the position is important for a young roster. It is only the first game of the season, but from the looks of things, The Imps are going to surprise some people in League One this year.