Furious Michael Appleton says Lincoln ‘shirked their responsibilities’

Posted Sunday, February 27, 2022 by PA

Furious Michael Appleton says Lincoln ‘shirked their responsibilities’

Michael Appleton refused to defend his players after watching Lincoln crash to a 2-0 defeat at home to relegation rivals Gillingham.

The Imps slipped to their third successive defeat after late goals from Vadaine Oliver, who headed in on 75 minutes, and Ben Thompson, who fired home from long range in the final minute of normal time.

It left Lincoln four points above the relegation zone while Gillingham’s deserved triumph gave their own survival hopes a timely boost.

“Not good enough,” said Appleton of his side’s performance after the game.

“I can’t defend the players today. It’s difficult to accept, in and out of possession.

“I can talk about times over the last six weeks where we’ve been good with the ball and played well in games and not got the reward. We weren’t like that today.

“There was a nervousness to us. I don’t know if it’s the fact that we are where we are [in the table]. There’s a pressure that goes with being in that position.

“We didn’t deal with it today. They dealt with it better. Very, very quickly, from a mindset point of view and a personality point of view, one or two need to rectify that.

“The opposition haven’t threatened much but they’ve come away with a 2-0 win. That’s clearly disappointing.”

Appleton said some of his under-performing players need to be told some home truths following their lacklustre display.

“A few of them shirked their responsibilities and were a little bit shy of knowing what’s expected to win a game against a side that we know are going to be really, really physical,” he added.

“I can tell them but it doesn’t just need me to tell them. Their team-mates will tell them, their families will tell them. The more people that do that, the better.”

In contrast, Gills boss Neil Harris is inspiring a revival for the Priestfield club, who looked doomed to relegation prior to the sacking of Steve Evans last month.

Harris got his tactics spot-on, counteracting City’s possession game before their late goals.

“I’m ecstatic for the players, the football club and fans who travelled,” he said.

“A well-deserved win. Lincoln were good and the possession stats will be high for them.

“They dominated the ball from box to box but we forced them into areas where we wanted them to go.

“I picked a team and shape to dictate where we wanted the ball to go. The four midfielders who played in a diamond formation were excellent. We looked structured from set-plays and first contacts in the box were high.

“I thought it wasn’t going to go in at one point [after a number of missed chances]. We deserved the points.”


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