I’m not going to bore you with a breakdown of how we played or analysis of the tactics today. Opening games of the season can often be a false barometer of how you will fare over the coming weeks and winning one game in a forty six game season guarantees you nothing. However I am going to offer a few reasons why our win yesterday might be a stronger barometer of our performance than any of the previous seasons opening games. The main reason we should allow ourselves a slight bit of excitement was the opposition yesterday.
Since Tim Buzaglo banged in four goals against WBA in the 1990’s Woking have been synonymous with giant killing and non league success. Since we dropped in to this division five seasons ago they’ve been synonymous with getting beaten and dropping points. We hadn’t beaten them in any of our ten matches, so yesterday really set a marker for how far we may have come in a short time.
The team coach arrived just one hour before kick off yesterday no doubt containing a set of sweaty and slightly uncomfortable players, all expected to perform at the height of their abilities just sixty minutes later. I think it’s fair to say they got off the coach and put in a fair shift.
Conceding straight after halftime was unfortunate, but in the past it would also have been the catalyst to go on and lose 3-1, not win 3-1. CM instilled a bit of steel into the team, but usually conceding after scoring meant only one thing for City: a long afternoon. The manner in which we battled back to score again and again yesterday showed a shift in mental toughness and that all important attribute ‘character’.
My own prediction yesterday was a draw, and as a slight pessimist I had us down for four points in the first three games as I felt Sutton could come and surprise us at the Bank next Saturday after we beat North Ferriby. Now I’m not so sure. Words such as convincing, strong and resilient are not often used after Lincoln City’s first game of the season, but they are applicable this morning. We simply don’t normally win at places like Woking (or Welling) and no amount of new signings or tactical awareness could change that. Until Saturday 6th August 2016.
Last season Woking didn’t lose many at home, but Cheltenham and Grimsby took all three points back with them. If you want to be ‘there or thereabouts’ then tricky trips to Woking have to yield results, whether its the first game of the season or in Grimsby’s case last year, the second last.
In 2013/14 we opened away at Woking at only drew 0-0 that day, and despite wins over FGR and Macclesfield the weeks after we drifted away to nowhere. Even that positive start three years ago isn’t matched by winning at Woking yesterday.
I can’t enthuse enough about what a change of pace yesterdays game was, and how I now expect to be sat here in a weeks time writing about having nine points from nine. I still expect us to despatch North Ferriby with ease as I see them having a long season of struggle, however I think Sutton will struggle to contain us if we play like we did yesterday. They’ll be negative and we’ll have to get at them but I can’t help but feel we will have enough in the tank to put paid to these types of sides. The big challenges come when we play teams like Tranmere, Eastleigh and Forest Green. Then we’ll truly know if this is to be our season, or if like so many before it the opening day win is a false dawn.
Finally massive congratulations to Matt Rhead, announcing his intention for the season with a cracking brace. 28 to go big lad.