I’m going to confess I didn’t learn a lot of new things about our beloved Lincoln City this week. The 4-0 drubbing of Southport was only unexpected because of the last two games, and not because of the quality of opposition.
I think it is an accepted fact that Southport will be in the bottom half, and I think it is similarly accepted that we will fight at the other end of the table. However yesterday accentuated those beliefs for everyone in the ground. Here’s five things we already knew before we beat Southport.
- Alex Woodyard is class. There’s no denying the work rate that the lad puts in, but he really does seem to be at the heart of everything the new management team are trying to achieve. The quality of football on display at Sincil Bank has increased ten fold, and at times it looked like boys against men as the little exchanges of passes found openings all over the park. Even before former Imp Ashley Grimes was sent off for kicking out at Woodyard we looked in full control. Woody 2 really does pull the strings, breaking up play and spreading balls all over the park. Usually when we speak of players in his position we mention that their work often goes unnoticed (Scott Kerr, David Batty), but in Woody 2’s case it doesn’t. I might be jumping the gun here but I think at some point in his career he could grace the Championship. He’s that good, and at the end of this season there could be another Woody challenging for the player of the year awards.
- We’ve got goals in us. Even without Matt Rhead we looked really dangerous every time we rampaged forward and the score really didn’t do justice to the total dominance we displayed throughout the game. Four goal Johnny Margetts could have had six, and we had a host of other chances and half chances. I really liked the new lad in last seasons kit, Harry Anderson. He was skilful, direct but also incredibly strong. His home debut reminded me of James Caton’s home debut last season. It’s not hard to see where we’re going to get goals from this season, they can come from everywhere. Adam Marriott looked every inch the perfect partner for Margetts yesterday and it looks like the ‘accelerated plan B’ that the manager spoke about in midweek really could be effective. Teams are not going to know which Lincoln City are going to turn up, the one with the powerful front man that balls simply stick to, or the one with intricate and speedy one touch passing and swift movement. Be excited.
- There is a lot of depth to the squad. Bear in mind that Taylor Miles and Matt Rhead are injured, that Power, Hawkridge and Arnold were suffering (amongst others) and in reality we were unable to put out our strongest team. In years gone by I’ve sat watching half decent Imps sides at full strength saying ‘one day we’re going to hand out a proper thrashing to somebody’. Well in three home games we’ve handed out two now, and that’s without a full strength side. I know we lost two games recently and I know it isn’t always going to be plain sailing, but how many seasons can we honestly say we’ve started by handing out sound beatings? North Ferriby aren’t proving to be the whipping boys they looked like when they played us either, so on the face of it 6-1 was perhaps more of an achievement than we gave ourselves credit for.
- The new refereeing policies are causing some confusion. Even before Woody last week we were looking with some suspicion at the performance of referees and yesterday was no different. I thought the ref had a decent game yesterday, but two decisions do stand out. Neither really affected the outcome as the Imps had control from first minute to last, but how did the keeper stay on the pitch for the first penalty? I know the rules state that intent to play the ball is to be taken into consideration, but his clattering of Margetts looked almost Harold Schumacher-esque and clearly denied a goal scoring opportunity. I thought he was incredibly lucky to stay on and save Terry Hawkridge’s weak penalty. Like Woody last week I also didn’t clearly see the Grimes incident despite it being right in front of me, but it seemed very harsh at the time. Sutton protested to get Woody sent off last week, but not one Lincoln player raised an arm as Grimes kicked out. I don’t think Southport felt hard done by, but on another day they could have been crucial decisions.
- Any doom and gloom merchants who began seeping out of the woodwork on Wednesday were wrong. I’ll confess I didn’t see an awful lot of moaning and whining myself. I did notice someone on Twitter called Trisimp who was scathing throughout Tuesday evening, but these people are simply not right. This isn’t ‘same old Lincoln’ and it isn’t the year of the shattered dream again. We are a work in progress, but the work being put in is clear for everyone to see. Some of the passing and movement on show yesterday was like nothing I’ve seen at Lincoln in at least a decade if not two. The ball was being zipped about and players were dropping in and out of space like they were blocks in a game of Tetris. The play flowed beautifully and anyone who says it was the quality of the opposition are missing the bigger picture. Yes I acknowledge it was occasionally broken down and at times players took a little too long on the ball, but I lost count of the number of times I looked down at my phone to check my bets and when I looked up we’d advanced fifty odd yards through little one touch passing. I confess I missed some of the build up to Margetts second because I was checking to see if Liverpool were going to save my accumulator. One moment it was in the middle of the park and through a fast interchange we were through on goal. Anyone who can not see a significant step change in the quality of performances is either blind or will eternally be critical of Lincoln City.
So there are five things I already knew about Lincoln before we beat Southport. I didn’t know what a talent the boy Anderson is from Peterborough as I’ve mentioned. He looked rugged, strong and direct and although I was surprised we brought in another wide player it is easy to see which qualities DC saw when he decided to bring him in.
The final thing that has surprised me a little is the preference towards Waterfall and Raggett at the back over McCombe. I was really enthused by big Jamie returning and likened it to a marquee signing and a coup of sizeable proportions. It seemed clear that it would be McCombe plus one at the back, but recent selections have indicated otherwise. Maybe it’s building for the future, maybe it’s just use of a good sized squad but the big man not making the starting eleven has surprised me a little. Not quite as much as defeat by Sutton but enough for me to comment.
I’m off now to bask in the glory of seeing two sound thumpings of poorer opposition inside a calendar month. It’s not always easy to be a Lincoln City fan, but at least this season it seems the highs will make up for the lows.