Michael Skubala heaped praise on one of his players this evening after his side secured a point away at Wigan.
In a game of few chances, defences came out on top, and one player who caught the eye was defender Paudie O’Connor. The 26-year-old is the club captain at the LNER Stadium but has had a tough time since the new head coach came in.
O’Connor was dismissed in interim manager Tom Shaw’s final game in charge of the club and subsequently missed the first three matches of Skubala’s reign. He didn’t regain his place in their last league outing, a 3-0 win at Cambridge United, but he did get his first start of the new era at the DW Stadium.
It brought a third clean sheet in five games under Skubala, and a strong point away at a side who have only lost once at home this season. After the game, Skubala, who took over from Mark Kennedy in November, praised his returning captain.
“It (Paudie’s performance) was superb,” he said in his post-match interview. “His leadership skills are immense. He’s so big for the group; him, Jacko, TJ and the back line again, I thought, stood up to everything that was tested.
“His leadership today was brilliant.”
Skubala expressed disappointment his team couldn’t find a goal in testing conditions at the DW Stadium but still felt that, overall, his side did as they were asked.
“(It’s a) big point for me. And I said to the lads, don’t be disappointed with that. They’ve won quite a few on the bounce here. And I think it’s a really good point.
“Hopefully, the fans would have seen a goal, and we could have given them a goal. But for me, it’s a good point.”
The Imps remain in ninth place, five points outside the top six, having played two games more. This week, they’re in Bristol Street Motors Trophy action against Accrington before Reading visit LN5 for the first time since 1999. The home side will be hoping to beat the Royals on their own turf for the first time since 1984.
It was a game of few chances this afternoon, with The Imps perhaps having the better opportunities. Wigan had one goal disallowed for a foul on the keeper, but otherwise, both sides got what they deserved.
Defences were on top, and in his post-match interview, Shaun Maloney praised Lincoln’s development under Skubala. The former Leeds coach has only been at the club for a few weeks, but they are looking more resolute.
He’s also right to single O’Connor out for praise. He was the club’s Player of the Season last time out, and whilst he did pick up his red card against Port Vale, he’s been able to pick up where he left off this afternoon, looking tough and uncompromising.
Leaders are crucial through these winter months when conditions can be tough, and O’Connor certainly looks like one of Skubala’s leaders.
A shout out to Adam Jackson also namechecked in the post-match interview. The former Hibernian man was outstanding last season, and he has also been in great form since the new manager came in.