Danny Cowley called it himself at the weekend. He has instilled a refuse to lose mentality in the players, and tonight we got a master class in how effective the philosophy is.
The win against Wrexham will, in time, simply show as a routine 1-0 home win in a superb run of results. What it will not say is that it was a different kind of win to what we are used to, and a win that showed we’ve learned important lessons since September.
Okay we were 1-0 down against Sutton so we needed to push for a goal. It doesn’t change the fact we lost the game because of our numerical disadvantage. We didn’t have a plan B and as a team we couldn’t secure the game at 1-0 with ten men.
Tonight we got to at least keep Rheady on the pitch, but we also took control of the game with less players. It s hard to play an effective pressing game as an attacking force a man light, there is too much risk of leaving exposed spaces. What Lincoln did tonight was play it in a defensive capacity, keeping it tight and organised whilst trying to find a route to goal.
What we saw was a real example of what Theo Robinson is worth to the team this evening. His non-stop running ensured we had something of a threat despite often being on the back foot. Rheady did a lot of defensive work which meant Robinson ploughed a loan furrow, and he did it superbly.
The two centre backs were immense as well. Waterfall led by example, and Callum Howe looked like he truly is in the great form that Southport fans suggested. He looked hungry all evening and gobbled up anything he had to. Superb work.
The red card? I thought it was high and a little dangerous, but if the ref has specified it was two footed then I think he’s wrong. On that basis it wasn’t a red card. If we’d kept all our players on the pitch I think we would have seen a three or four nil win for City. However, that is football for you. Sean Raggett will move on, just like Bradley Wood did earlier in the season.
Danny Cowley said afterwards that not many teams miss a penalty, play sixty minutes with ten men and still come out victorious. He gracefully didn’t mention the inconsistent decisions by the official. We didn’t use our ‘slice of luck’ either. Luck is, by definition; “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.”
Nothing that happened tonight was brought on by chance, it was 100% all endeavour, hard work and ability. We chased and harried, we made blocks and a couple of saves and we threatened more than a team with ten men should. We battled against 11 men when it perhaps should have been levelled up in the second half, and yet we still won the game. We still went top.
We go top of the league for a couple of days, at least until Tranmere take on York City on Saturday. It’s the third time this season we’ve gone top, I can’t remember that ever happening in my lifetime. We’ve got there by turning on the style at times this season, and grafting out results at others. At present nobody has looked like beating us, not even Forest Green in the 89th minute. We are never beaten, you never feel our heads drop and we never stop fighting in every part of the pitch. In plainer terms: we refuse to lose.
We’re Lincoln City and we’re on our way.