Character can mean a lot of things. I was once introduced to a bloke who was described as ‘a character’, which basically meant he was a bit of a tool.
A character can be a fictional person in a play or film as well, and it’s used to describe a letter or number when properly utilising the English language. It can also describe a certain ‘something’ a football team has that is demonstrated by an inability to know when they’re beaten. That is the type of character I want to talk about tonight.
Against Aldershot this afternoon we shouldn’t even have to mention character. With 45 minutes on the clock, at 2-1 up, we had a gilt edged chance to make it 3-1 and essentially make it game over as well. Theo skied it and we went into the break thinking that, despite the miss we’d walk the second half.
That would be a fair assumption. Aside from their goal Aldershot looked competent but not entirely capable of finding their reserve tank of gas. They’d come at us, scored the away goal and done their job. They really wanted and then failed to capitalise on their lead, but a brace from Nathan Arnold seemingly put the tie beyond doubt. They needed to come out and start all over again, and with us 2-1 up and the half time break, and playing football that flowed like the Witham, I didn’t feel there was any worry coming our way at all.
Within six minutes of the restart Aldershot had pulled things back, and with twenty minutes plus (extensive) stoppages to go we were 3-2 down, another fine demonstration of what I know. At that point I thought Aldershot looked like one of the better teams we’d seen this season, and they deserved to be back in the game. The calm and composed Imps side that left the field had gone and had been replaced by the Lincoln of old; frail at the back and toothless up front. The villain of the hour, Mr Robinson, had effectively contributed nothing and we looked like we were heading for defeat. Tranmere were winning too, just to compound our misery.
Six minutes after the ninety and a beautiful long ball (there is such a thing) from Paul Farman ended up at the feet of our fall guy, Theo Robinson. He found every-ones best friend, Matt Rhead and you know the rest. Matt Rhead doesn’t get the ball at his feet ten yards out very often, but when he does there is usually only one outcome. 3-3, and a point earned rather than two points dropped.
As for their player being on the floor, I have no sympathy at all. They employed a time wasting strategy for twenty minutes, and it back fired. I’m not criticising them doing it, that’s football and although it is frustrating it’s no more then we’d do in the same position. It failed, their boy wasn’t injured and they have to swallow that down and accept it.
I could go into the what-ifs and why-for’s if I wanted, break the game down into some tight analysis like I often do. The problem is I have chicken in the oven and no doubt you have beer to drink or some god-awful reality to show to watch, therefore I’ll keep it brief.
Successful teams drop points at home, but when they do it’s not usually three points. Successful teams don’t know when they’re beat, and they play until the very last kick of the game. Successful teams avoid defeat even when one aspect of their play (today the defence) isn’t at their best. Successful teams drop points and still stay second.
I haven’t heard Danny on the radio tonight, it must have been a quicker run back to Louth than usual. I’d imagine he is lamenting the defending and vowing more work on staying ‘at it’ for 90 minutes. I imagine he’ll be painting the persona of a manager who still has a lot of work to do to make his team a success.
He needn’t bother with the verbal posturing, we know the job is only half done. We know the team will get better and we know come April we’ll be (to borrow a phrase from the Big man) ‘There or thereabouts’. At any time in the last ten years, we lose that game today 3-2. At any time in the last decade their opener silences our fans and the game is all but lost. Not today. Not on Danny and Nicky’s watch, and not with the squad of committed and able professionals we have at our disposal. Not this season.
Today (and indeed all season) they showed character, real character. I don’t care what the form book says and I don’t care what the league table says, in seven days time I firmly expect us to go and get a result at Forest Green, and attack that nine point lad they hold so dear. I expect to us to go and make a game of it, because Lincoln City 2016 have character, and come May 2017 the league table will prove it.