After all the excitement of making the finals of the Football Blogging Awards it would be easy to forget that we played (and won) an important match last night. A trip to Wrexham is never easy, and with aspirations of league football themselves I wasn’t convinced we’d come away with a win.
I felt that they’d have a go at us and that might leave some space to be exploited, and so it was. The first twenty minutes were a bit nerve racking and it looked like we might be in for a long night. We defended resolutely for almost half an hour, and Paul Farman had to be at his best to keep us in the game. However we are always a threat in the air with players like Luke Waterfall, and we’ve got pacey players who can make a difference like Harry Anderson. To go in 2-0 up at half time was comforting.
Of course there was still 45 minutes of football to be played and the second half wasn’t going to be a walk over. Former Imp Hamza Bencherif showed a bit of quality with his goal, but thankfully the other former Imp, Sean Newton, couldn’t find any quality at all and we held out to win 2-1.
The league is tightly packed together and one defeat could have us spinning out of the play-off spots as quickly as we seem to be ascending them. In truth we’ve done well to stay in touch after the poor run of form. It helps that everyone is beating everyone else, but to stay in the hunt we’ve got to make sure we close down games we are expected to win. Last night was a bonus 2pts as far as I’m concerned, away at Wrexham a point would have been acceptable.
We didn’t play brilliantly under the dark Welsh skies, but we battled and fought our way to three points and if we want league football back next season then we will have to fight for games like that. I’ve always said it won’t be breath-taking every week and it won’t be pretty every week, but with over a quarter of the season gone I think anyone of us would have settled for second place.
We do need to be travelling to Bromley and getting three points on Saturday because we have that daunting double header of Eastleigh and Forest Green coming up. By the time we move into November I think it’s safe to say we’ll have a really clear view of where we can expect to spend the rest of the season. If we took four points from those two games it’s fair to say we might be in with a shout of a visit to Blunder Park next season.
The management proved yesterday that they are not the single minded ‘we know best’ types like we’ve had here before. There’s no Chris Sutton-style petulance and no Peter Jackson-style belligerence in their team selection or tactics. They admitted they did wrong by bringing Tom Champion in, and somewhat embarrassingly for me proved me wrong with my analysis. How refreshing is it though to have a management team who are so open and honest?
One key to our continued assault on league football is bringing in a Jonny Margetts replacement and I understand talks with Braintree over Simeon Akinola are moving along slowly. If we could entice a player of his quality to the club I think it would sent the right message out to all those looking at Lincoln City and thinking we might not sustain a challenge.
Is it any surprise that Wrexham are struggling with the likes of Sean Newton and Hamza Bencherif amongst their ranks? They might be decent players at this level but they’ve won nothing. Newton was in the relegated Stockport squad, the struggling Lincoln squad and now he’s doing the same over in Wales. This season we’ve signed players who enjoy success at this level, players like Woodyard, Habergham, Raggett, Arnold, even Champion. Signing Akinola would continue that rich vein of recruitment.
With that little run of form behind us I think I we are beginning to see the real character that the squad has at present. When we haven’t played well for two games and yet we’ve won 3-0 and 2-1 at Wrexham it begs the question: What can we achieve when we really turn up the pressure?
Maybe we shouldn’t be looking at Forest Green and using them to measure our credentials, maybe they should be looking at us as a barometer of their progress? Certainly Eastleigh might feel a point at Sincil Bank would be just rewards for their efforts as well. How invigorating is it to finally be the team that others can measure themselves by? Long may it continue.
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