How the National League Champions didn’t score four or five this evening I will never know. It may have been a much-changed Imps side, but from start to finish we’ve dominated against a Maidstone side who have perhaps taken their foot off the gas now they’re safe.
On paper the match was a stereotypical ‘dead rubber’ clash, neither side had anything to play for, and yet they served up a wonderful match that belied the number of games we have played. Danny spoke afterwards (as he always does) of the energy and intensity, and I would expect nothing less from a Cowley side, title in the bag or not.
Danny opted to give the ‘Lincoln Lizards’ a run out tonight, and I’ve spotted one or two aspects about that choice that made me happy. Ross Etheridge has had one outing previously as the Imps keeper, and it could be argued he was at fault for at least one (if not both) of the goals that cost us a place at Wembley. I’m told Ross is a good honest pro, and to see him get to atone for that poor appearance was particularly nice. He’s had a good game when called into action too, and therefore he elevates himself above such illustrious one-outing wonders as Matthew Ghent and Simon Brown.
I was really pleased to see Jack Muldoon have a good game as well. Jack is a superb representative for the club, and he was lively and committed tonight just as you’d expect. I noted on Saturday Jack was the only player to go right into all four corners of the ground when they did the lap of honour. He was still posing for pictures in the Bridge McFarland Stand when everyone else was back on the field celebrating. He’ll be one with question marks over his future at the club, but if contracts are awarded on attitude and commitment then he’ll be an Imp next season without a doubt.
Finally Billy Knott is showing his class, and I can’t help but feel that he’ll be sitting down with Danny and Nicky over the next few days. There’s a telling picture from a game recently where the Imps bench are celebrating a goal, and there’s Billy and Danny together. Of all the loan players I think he is the one we are most likely to sign (aside from Angol whom I believe we may already have in the bag), and of all the loan players he oozes more technical ability and Football League quality.
Maidstone showed their class as a football club this evening as well. I have to wonder if those clubs that have been to hell and back have a much more acute awareness of how to act and behave, and from the guard of honour to the home-end banner congratulating us on our achievement they were superb. I chatted extensively to a couple of their fans before the game earlier in the season, and they’re a credit to their team. Even though we’ll be up in League Two next season I’ll be keeping an eye on them and hoping that they have a good season.
What more can one say about the match? The champions have played an insubordinate amount of matches in April and yet we’re still turning in strong performances. The fact we played fringe players and still dominated the game is an indication of the depth of the squad at Danny’s disposal, but these are things we already knew. There is nothing new to learn about the team, there is nothing new to talk about. 0-0 in our penultimate game in the National League. On to Haig Avenue on Saturday, back where it all began in August 2011. After that we’re out of here, no more gracious Maidstone visits, no more inhospitable Dover visits and no more bizarre National League tweets.