The Midfield Resurgence - Can It Continue?

Last updated : 05 March 2002 By Jonathan Hall
The visit of Mansfield to Sincil Bank last month clearly showed that the Imps were not on a par with their counterparts, as the Stags’ attack-minded midfield men left City for dead.

Mansfield were one of the better sides the Imps have met this season, in terms of quality, and Alan Buckley must have been eagerly awaiting the moment when the Imps would display the football they are expected to be capable of. And Buckley’s prayer was answered on Saturday, as his side produced consistent quality football (not just in patches), which resulted in three well-worked goals.

The role of both Justin Walker and Paul Smith has been crucial in this mini-resurgence of which Imps fans are begging continues. The centre of midfield has appeared suitably balanced with the solidity of Ian Hamilton combining effectively with the influential Justin Walker. The balance of the side has been further improved now that Paul Smith has slot back into his right wing role. Gain on the left, completes an attractive looking midfield quartet.

Now that John Finnigan is approaching first team contention after showing good progress with his injured toe this week, the competition for places is hotting up.

Being skipper, Finnigan would realistically be expecting to be drafted straight back in to the Imps eleven – whether to partner his long-term friend Walker in the centre remains to be seen. Football ethos suggests that the centre of midfield should consist of one holding man and one man going forward (as in Hamilton and Walker). Therefore, it would seem appropriate for Finnigan to step back in, to replace Hamilton. Remember, Finnigan is not renowned for his goal scoring abilities from midfield, more as a defensive battler. 

Ben Sedgemore, who is the only member of the squad to appear in every single game this season, also comes into the frame. His style of play can be compared to that of Finnigan.

And…once Kingsley Black returns from his knee injury in the next couple of weeks, the gaffer must prepare himself for a selection headache. Some people say Black should be experimented up front, however Lee Thorpe (11 goals this term) and Tony Battersby and Dave Cameron (13 between them this term) performing well lately, leaves Buckley with more decisions to ponder.

Inconsistency may intervene once again at Hartlepool tonight, but it would be most pleasing if this resurgent football can continue…