|Lincoln City 1 v 0 Ipswich Town|
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Saturday, 24th October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Lambert: I’ve Never Seen Anything Like That in a Game of Football in All My Time
Saturday, 24th Oct 2020 18:23
Town boss Paul Lambert slammed the performance of referee Kevin Johnson following the Blues’ 1-0 defeat at Lincoln, the official having awarded the Imps a controversial second-half spot-kick, which was converted by League One top scorer Jorge Grant. Lambert was sent off for remonstrating after the final whistle, Jon Nolan having been dismissed for a wild lunge in injury time.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in a game of football in all my time,” Lambert said. “I think whoever is the head of the referees should look at that. That was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like that in all my time in football. But they walk away from here, no issues.
“There were two clear fouls on Teddy Bishop [in the run-up to the penalty incident], 100 per cent. Incredible decisions, they were flabbergasting. But he gets in his car and walks away.”
The Town players had shown their frustrations with referee Johnson, who coincidentally refereed the first FA Cup tie between the teams last season, in the first half and Lambert says it wasn’t just the penalty incident which irked him.
“He was dreadful. Dreadful,” he said. “As I’ve said before, it’s professional football. That standard’s not acceptable. We never lost to Lincoln, we lost to the guy in the middle, I don’t know his name. I just think he was dreadful.”
Asked if he regretted his remonstrations and whether his criticisms went over the top, he said: “No, because it was true. It’s true. We get criticised for a lot of things, so should they.”
Does he get to have his say? “I’ll be phoning Mike Jones [the national group director of the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited)], I’ll definitely be phoning him because that was unacceptable.”
Was there any explanation from the referee? “The usual, an absolutely brilliant sign of arrogance. It’s wrong.”
Quizzed on whether Toto Nsiala was rash to make the challenge that led to the penalty, the Town manager said: “I’ve just seen it again. Toto’s used his strength against a young kid [Brennan Johnson], he’s used his arm. It’s just body strength. If you’ve giving fouls for that, you’d give fouls everywhere on the pitch.”
Turning away from the controversies and reflecting on the performance overall, Lambert was delighted with his team’s display.
“Brilliant, really happy with them, really, really happy,” he said. “We’re a right good side, you saw Lincoln’s reaction, they’re jumping with joy when they beat us. And we’ve still got to play them again.
“The way we’re playing is really, really good. Unbelievable football. I’m really happy with how we’re dominating games, so let’s see what happens.”
He added: “You lose games, but the way we played today, I’m so happy for them, to play that way was great. One, two-touch football, the possession of the ball, we were creating chances, the dominance of the game, we can’t ask for any more.”
Did Town test the Lincoln keeper enough? “That was the only thing you’d say with that. We should have pulled the trigger earlier with a lot of things. We had some good chances to do it but that’ll come. They sat really deep against us. There’s a long, long way to go.”
Nolan was red-carded for a frustrated tackle on Harry Anderson and Lambert could understand how his midfielder was feeling.
“Yes, but I understand that because Nolo was done here on the halfway line,” he said. “I won’t be taken any disciplinary action against him because of the occasion and the frustration has boiled over but there’s only one person that caused that.”
Nolan will now face a three-match suspension - Lambert himself will be subject to a touchline ban - leaving the Blues short of midfield options with Cole Skuse (knee) and Flynn Downes (knee) out for a couple of months and Alan Judge having missed today’s match with a more minor niggle.
“Judgey we couldn’t take a risk with him because of his hamstring but hopefully he’ll be OK for Tuesday.,” Lambert said.
Brett McGavin could also come into contention for a place in matchday squads and perhaps a place on the bench.
The 20-year-old wasn’t allowed out on loan before the window closed just over a week ago due to the number of central midfield injuries.
“We couldn’t really with the numbers that are out,” Lambert said. “We just have to get on with it.”
Lambert was pleased with Jack Lankester’s performance, the forward having made his first league start since January 2019.
“He did really well, it’s the after effects going forward now with Jack, seeing how he feels and how he recovers but performance-wise he was excellent,” he added.
He was also delighted with Oli Hawkins’s display: “We lost but performance-wise, I can’t ask for any more. Brilliant, really good.”
Last season Town made an impressive start and hit the top of the table before falling to back-to-back defeats which led to a significant slump.
Asked whether he had a message to fans worried that history might repeat itself this season, Lambert insisted: “We’re playing totally different, we’re a totally different team from last year. The way they’re playing, the confidence they’ve got there, no problem.
“We’ll just keep playing, don’t change because the way we’re dominating games, you tend to find when you start to dominate the ball you win more games than not.”
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