In the FA Cup third round tonight, Lincoln City created history. The players currently wearing the red and white stripes are making us as proud as any team since the era of the late, great Graham Taylor.
Firstly please take the time to read my report on The Lincolnite. Being asked to write for them this week is hopefully the start of a career in writing for me, and it’s as important to me that you read that as it is this blog. Thank you.
Now, what can I possibly say in addition to what 9069 fans saw? That is a record attendance for Sincil Bank as an all-seater stadium, and of those seats very few were spare. Aside from the Ipswich end I couldn’t see a spare seat in the house, and if you needed further proof you should have tried going to the toilet at half time. I’ve never had to queue to get OUT of a toilet before.
So it was busy, but how could our heroes possibly better the result of ten days ago? Coming within six minutes of knocking a Championship side out is one thing, but doing it all again once they know how you approach a game is different isn’t it?
Unfortunately for the Tractor Boys it isn’t. They seemed to approach the game in exactly the same manner as the first match, let us play our game and occasionally try and display some class. The issue comes when you don’t really have the class to display, and tonight even the enigmatic Tom Lawrence was quiet. If I had to pick an Ipswich man of the match I’d be hard pushed, they were ineffective and devoid of ideas. I said before that Mick McCarthy and Ipswich were a union that had run it’s course, and the powder puff display from the ‘championship’ side tonight really underlined that.
As for Lincoln, once again we were superb to a man. It would be almost remiss to name individuals, but special mention has to go to the two wide men, Hawkridge and Arnold. We all know of Arnold’s class, but since Harry Anderson left I think Terry has come on in leaps and bounds. Tonight he was outstanding, much as he was on Saturday. His work ethic is unbelievable and his tracking back made it possible for Sam Habergham to occasionally roam forward. Those two combined as well as Bradley Wood and Arnold on the other flank, and they were a constant threat.
Matt Rhead was another player who had an outstanding game. Christophe Berra will be waking up in cold sweats for weeks to come from the nightmares that big Rheady gave him. They didn’t have an answer to his physical approach, but when required he played neat passes and showed clever touches. I thought these two games might be where Rheady got ‘found out’, but instead he’s shone through and has been a key component in both results.
Everyone was superb this evening, I was really please for Alan Power who showed the watching nation the qualities that I have seen in him every week. Alex Woodyard covered every inch of the pitch twice, and that was just in the first half. Farms made himself available at every opportunity, the centre halves defended everything that came their way and the hero from ten days ago, Theo Robinson, worked harder than an eight year old in a Chinese sweat shop.
I imagined when Freddie Sears and Andre Dozzell came on that we would see Ipswich up the ante. Tom Lawrence had been quiet, not least after a nice little reducer from Bradley Wood, but I thought the introduction of the only other to players to impress me from Portman Road would pay dividends towards the end of the match. Instead it was our own impact sub, Adam Marriott who once again turned the game.
He carried the ball forward superbly, and his weighted pass through to Nathan Arnold was inch perfect. Arnold had to keep his cool, but under pressure there is nobody as cool as the former Cambridge man. I’ve watched the goal over and over already, and the joy when that ball hits the back of the net cannot be replicated. To witness it in the flesh was just reward for the years of torment we’ve endured, ad although it is just another chapter in the over story of our season, it is perhaps one of the most memorable.
Immediately after the game I found myself writing my match report in the car for the Lincolnite, and every since I sent send I’ve found myself singing ‘allez, allez, allez ooh’, as loud as I can. My missus is in bed now, my neighbours are asleep and I’ve had to turn the laptop speakers down just to watch the highlights again, and again, and again.
I must also mention the pleasure it gave me to hear Chris Sutton get a round off booing capped off with a fine rendition of ‘you’re a winker’ (or something similar). It warms my heart to know many of the 9,000 fans remembered what a significant part he played in putting us in this league in the first place.
The last manager to take Lincoln City to the FA Cup Fourth Round was Mr Graham Taylor, and there is perhaps a dark irony that he received two separate minutes applause, as well as a dedication form the 617. The only other manager to achieve it was Bill Anderson, and along with Taylor he also guided Lincoln to a league championship. Danny Cowley has already achieved one of those feats, and before we face Brighton in round four, he could secure us six crucial National League points to keep us on track for another championship.
After tonight I wouldn’t bet against them achieving it, we have a special group of players at the club, led by a special backroom team headed up by two very special brothers. After all of the years of suffering recently, our special fans deserve nights like tonight.
Enjoy it Imps, wherever you are.