Michael Appleton on the Lincoln City half-time team talk that proved key in play-off win
Michael Appleton admitted a half-time rollicking was key to Lincoln turning around their play-off semi final hopes.
Sunderland roared back from their 2-0 defeat on Wednesday night to level the scores at half time, but the visitors regrouped at the break and restored their advantage through a Tom Hopper header.
Appleton also made a double substitution at the break, with Joe Walsh and Conor McGrandles replacing Lewis Montsma and Anthony Scully.
The Lincoln City boss praised both Sunderland and the 10,000 support for their role in the first half, but praised his players for coming through the contest.
They will face Neil Critchley's Blackpool next weekend at Wembley in an attempt to secure their promotion to the Championship.
“I was annoyed at half-time,” Appleton said.
"The players know that. It’s dangerous sometimes. I’m not an old manager who rollicks his players all the time. I’ve not had to do it too much this year but I felt half-time was the right time because I just didn’t recognise us in the first half.
"I have to give them [Sunderland] credit, they pressed the life out of us and made it very difficult for us. The crowd got on top of us as well.
“It was an incredible experience for the young players but I wanted to make the point at half-time ‘look, you have to show personality, you have to go back to what you’ve been doing all season, being brave, getting on the ball and showing what a good side you are’.”
Though Alex Palmer made a fine late save to deny Aiden O’Brien, Lincoln themselves had a number of chances to win.
Jorge Grant missed a penalty before McGrandles fired wide when through on goal, and Appleton said his only disappointment was that they did secure a win on the day.
“The only disappointment I had was that I thought we should have won the game with the big chances we had,” he said.
“A very emotional day, very excitable. I don’t show many emotions, as you know, but I certainly showed it at the final whistle.
“I’ve got a smile on my face. We’ve got a game [against Blackpool] to look forward to, but tonight it’s about enjoying the moment and the experience we’ve been through today.”