A few weeks ago I blogged about Lincoln City not having used any luck in their ascent to the top of the league. This afternoon at Sincil Bank, as we hit the peak for the fourth time this season I think there may have been a little slice of it tipped in our favour, although it had to be combined with hard work and Alan Power’s massive balls in order to achieve the win.
We went 1-0 down, you probably know that. I imagine a good portion of you readers were amongst the 5,000 that crammed into the Bank today. The first half, for want of a better word, was lacklustre. Guiseley came with a game plan and Sam Habergham’s cracking volley / unfortunate shinner gave our visitors a scarcely earned 1-0 lead.
The only other real talking point of note was a challenge on Terry Hawkridge that I feel should have been a straight red. It was late, it was from behind and I’m informed it looked two footed. Now I didn’t have my glasses so I can only confirm the first two points, but for me anything from behind after the ball has gone is a straight red. I dropped a C-bomb when the yellow came out, something my delightful other half wasn’t too chuffed with. It was her first game of the season and she prefers I keep the language less coarse in her company.
I still think it was warranted, Boyes took Hawkridge out like he was shooting rats in a barrel.
That really is the first half summed up. We huffed and puffed but we really didn’t get close to blowing a house down, and our visitors were more than happy to sit back and clear their lines time and time again. I felt there might be shades of Solihull Moors in the second half, us trying to break down a resilient and dogged team of battlers. I was wrong.
The change happened fairly quickly. Theo wasn’t having his best game in a Lincoln shirt, and that’s probably being nice. Mt friend Jimmy’s partner (another first time fan this season) summed it up nicely for me: “That number 31 doesn’t ever seem to be where the ball goes”. I’m afraid, for this afternoon only, that sums the former Watford striker up nicely.
Adam Marriott changes games and within seconds of coming on he’d earned us a penalty. I haven’t seen a replay so I may be talking out of turn, but from where I sat I thought it was a penalty won rather than a penalty entirely deserved. Marriott gets into the right positions and when there’s contact, there’s options. Marriott took the option that resulted in a penalty. I might be wrong, I often am but he won us a penalty.
My first words when the ref blew his whistle were ‘please not Rheady’. I love the big man as much as I love curly fries and chicken nuggets, but his penalty record isn’t the best. Anyone picking up that ball and trying to beat Maxted needed to have fire in his belly, and love eggs made of steel in his shorts. Up stepped Alan Power.
I speak about Power quite a lot, I think he’s the consummate professional and unlucky to keep finding himself warming the bench. When it mattered our former captain and leader did exactly what was needed and despatched a near perfect penalty into the back of the net. That took cahoonas, and not the regular sized ones either, it took cahoonas the size of rugby balls. 1-1, and in an instant everything changed.
Maybe it was Mazza, maybe it was the goal, maybe it was the mercurial Nathan Arnold shifting into the centre to tie up Simon Walton. Whatever it was, something changed. Guiseley allegedly came out and tried to win the game, I didn’t see that. I saw Lincoln start to play with confidence and belief again, and I felt a slight air of frustration lift from some of the fans around me. At 1-1, there was only one winner.
With ten minutes to go the Guiseley players made a rare excursion forward, and as luck would have it the referee was on the ball, unlike Adam Boyes. Boyes was on the floor, he felt he’d been bundled there by a Lincoln player, but the ref felt otherwise. He received a red card, 70 minutes after he first deserved it. If you are a Lincoln fan it was justice, if you are a Guiseley fan you might feel hard done by. 1-1, 11 v 10 and just ten minutes still to play. Tranmere were losing by this point, FGR were dropping points and all around me there was a feeling of optimism.
It took a while for my deep rooted belief of a victory to actually come to pass, but when it did it stands to reason that it would be one of free scoring centre backs that grabbed the goal. From what I understand there might be some dispute as to who scored it, Raggett claimed it, Waterfall claimed it and Theo Robinson claimed it too. Sean Raggett has been awarded it, personally I don’t really care one iota. 2-1, game over.
Guiseley lost their head a bit at that point. I wondered if they were looking for a foul in the build up to the goal, maybe they were still seething at the perceived injustice at the earlier red card. Either way their captain Danny Lowe was sent off, presumably for mouthing off, manager Adam Lockwood went for the same offence and experienced assistant manager Dave Penney was also forced to miss the final three minutes.
We rightly took advantage of the situation and added a quick fire third to put the game beyond doubt. Nathan Arnold was my man of the match and a goal was just rewards for his efforts all afternoon. Game over, 3-1 and to put the icing on the cake those troublesome lot from the Wirral had lost at Macclesfield. I left the ground with a resounding chorus of ‘we are top of the league’ going round my head, top of course for the fourth time this season.
We needed a slice of luck, a lot of hard work and a player with the minerals to take a successful pressure penalty, and luckily for us all three came up trumps. Danny Cowley spoke about now being able to enjoy Ipswich as much as we should, and he was right. Boxing Day wasn’t ideal, but only Solihull Moors got six from six over the Christmas period. We went into the festive time top of the league, and we come out in the same position. I’d say that’s job done. The players have earned the right to go and play at Portman Road in front of 5,000 travelling fans, and they know they’ll go there and start the day top of the league. They’ve earned the right and I sincerely hope they go there and enjoy, what for some will be the biggest match of their careers.
Top at Christmas, top the 1st of January. All we need now is top at the end of April and I’ll be one happy blogger.