Following Lincoln’s opener in the semi-final of the EFL Trophy, the game looked set to finish 1-0. Considering Lincoln’s strong defensive record, having previously only conceded twice in their past eleven away matches, you’d back the Lincolnshire side to keep it tight defensively. Additionally, The Imps appeared comfortable sitting deep in their own half, successfully clearing whatever came their way.
A change made by Lee Johnson resulted in Aiden McGeady given more of a free role in the final third. Whilst Lincoln appeared to cope defensively initially, despite Charlie Wyke having a number of chances, the deadlock was finally broken when Aiden McGeady’s cross from the right-hand side was met with the head of Wyke.
By allowing McGeady more of a free role, he was able to occupy the areas of the field which were more likely to result in chance creation as opposed to stringently sticking to the left wing. Given both his experience and technical ability, the Irishman was able to both judge, and find, areas to operate within, and effectively create chances from said areas.
For our equaliser, the thirty-five-year-old came from the left-hand side into a central area, before spotting Max Power’s forward run, which dragged Lincoln’s Cohen Bramall towards the corner flag, freeing up some space on the right-hand side, which McGeady went to fill.
When Maguire found McGeady seconds later, he had bags of time to ensure his cross went into the right area. Once this was done, Wyke was able to meet the ball and draw us level. Previously in the game, McGeady was stuck to the left-hand side, without much movement, which allowed Lincoln to predict the next stage of play and effectively defend. However, once he was given the freedom to attack how he saw fit, McGeady was able to capitalise on space left by Lincoln’s defence in an unpredictable manor, which finally led to the opportunity to create.
With the cup final and nineteen league games remaining, Johnson may look to utilise McGeady in a free role on occasion, which arguably saw him at his best, allowing him to attack down either wing or through the centre. Given the Republic of Ireland international’s age, however, a smart idea may be to pair him with the likes of Jordan Jones and Jack Diamond as attacking partners to ensure we have both the cutting edge of McGeady as well as the raw pace of the others, to give us a dynamic attack.