Perspective is a funny thing. on Saturday we went top on a day we could have slipped to fourth by beating Tranmere away and the world was rosy and warm. Three days later we stay top by a point on a night when we could have gone three points clear and some in attendance chose to boo at the end.
I’m going to deal with the booing first and you’ll notice I didn’t us the word ‘fans’ in the previous paragraph. Those booing have paid their £18 and therefore are entitled to vent an opinion. Last night was not a pretty game of football to watch but a sixth straight game without defeat does not warrant a boo whether you’re a new face or someone who has had to sit through the Tilson, Holdsworth and Simpson years.
I thought as a team yesterday we were well below our usual standard which is why the performance looked laboured. I’ll focus on a few positives to start with, and the first is the towering presence of Raggett and Waterfall. Last night Raggett was perhaps the better of the two but both look terrifying for opposition forwards. Their partnership is still in the ascendency and clean sheets like last night will soon be the norm if they continue to protect Paul Farman’s goal in the way they are doing at present.
Nathan Arnold looked really lively too and if we were going to produce anything of note then it was going to come via his boots. Our best threat came when we tried to raid down the left hand side with the trademark quick inter passing than we’re becoming accustomed to. It didn’t always come off last night but for 70 minutes I think the team stuck to the game play and at least tried to go about the game the right way.
Before I move on to an unfamiliar stance (for me at least) of criticism lets also not take anything away from Solihull Moors. They may not have an instantly recognisable name but they’re in this league on merit and last night every single one of them came to battle. Some of the treatment Matt Rhead received was incredible and until their centre half was dismissed I thought he had Matt in his back pocket. Rheady had a really tough night but at one point in the first half they had three men going up for every header with him. They decided to cut out the threat and they did it really well. They worked hard and I don’t expect them to be in the bottom four come the end of the season.
In his post match interview Danny Cowley said he felt he got some substitutions wrong, but for me he did get a crucial element of team selection wrong as well. Now I’m not paid to manage the team, I’m not even paid to comment on them but in my humble opinion we shouldn’t have started with Tom Champion. I felt it was a negative move to bring a new face in immediately given his game time and fitness. He acquitted himself quite well but I think a new element in the team introduced that slight deviation from the plan we’ve been implementing over the past five games.
I agree he did get the subs wrong, at least one of them. Once they had a man sent off and it was clear they were still doubling up on Rheady I felt we would have benefitted from McCauley Bonne up top with Adam Marriott and give Rheady a rest. I imagine Matt will be chomping at the bit to do his stuff in front of Paul Cox on Saturday and he may have benefitted from a spell sat down after a couple of punishing games in a few days. I also thought maybe Alan Power on to give us something extra attacking through the centre to switch things up. We weren’t getting any joy with Plan A so I would like to have seen us try something different.
That said we did look like we might nick it in the last few minutes with a couple of good efforts. I’m not sure the press association reports of their keeper having an ‘inspired display’ are accurate, but towards the end of the game he did pull off a couple of decent saves, one from Tom Champion who was taking quite a bit of stick from those new faces sat behind me in the Coop Stand.
Aside from FGR we’ve seen the best this league has got to offer and in terms of player for player I think we have as good a squad as any other side. We’re more organised than we have been for many years and we’re fitter and sharper too. However Danny Cowley spoke after the game and said this about the Imps chances of winning the league outright:
“At the moment we’re nowhere near being league champions, that’s the truth. I know this level very well and we are a team that can be competitive week in, week out, that’s a fact.”
He is telling the truth, we’re nowhere near being the champions because it is only September and the season ends in May. Football is a game of perspective, and if you forget the fact we didn’t register three points against a lower side last night then we’re still top after ten games, we’ve still scored more than anyone in the league and we have started keeping clean sheets as well. Keep some perspective.
I found writing that quite tough as I hate negativity of any form, especially around such a good side as this. However that’s what I don’t get paid to do, write about Lincoln. You’d get hacked off if it was all flowers and pudding every time I wrote, wouldn’t you?
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