Remember earlier when I said we only need to score one or two to win a game? Well, once again, a solitary goal has been enough to give Lincoln all three points on their travels.
It was a dogged performance from the Imps, not the prettiest but always committed and resolute. The goal came from Sean Raggett (pictured) with a late header, and City had the clearest chances against a disappointing Swindon side. For all their possession the Robins really didn’t impress me, the result means we now leapfrog them into ninth position.
I thought for long spells the game had 0-0 written all over it, we had chances in the first fifteen but neither side really threatened in the middle section of the game. Swindon edged possession but did nothing significant with it, not for the want of trying though. City were excellent without the ball, defending in numbers and always there with a tackle or a block. Luke Waterfall might have been unlucky to be back on the bench, but the two centre halves were immense and unfortunately for Luke nothing is going to split up the Dickie / Raggett partnership until January.
Some Imps fans have muttered that the defensive approach to games is nullifying our attack, but this result absolutely justifies the current tactics. It isn’t necessarily negative, we won 1-0 and had the better chances. It isn’t boring either, it is an effective way of playing that only works if players are committed and organised. Swindon have capability to hurt you, but we allowed them very little time on the ball. In the final few minutes they started throwing long balls into the box, looking for the chink of light that would get them back into the game. They didn’t find it, everything they had was matched and countered by City. We defended brilliantly and closed Swindon time whenever they had the ball.
I thought we looked better going forward when Ollie Palmer came on. Early doors we had a few chances but after that Billy Knott drifted out of the game. It wasn’t a game for panache and style on the ball though, it was a dog fight, a battle of strength and application. Ollie Palmer gave us a physical presence which just changed the focus of our attack. I haven’t been a fan of Palmer so far this season, but he did have an effect.
I also thought Josh Ginnelly had a good game, so much so that he was roundly booed by the home fans as he left the field. That is always telling, if a player is roundly booed he must have had an effect, although how he didn’t score after Nathan hit the post I’ll never know. From the angle I saw it looked like a super block. Minutes after that I thought he was fouled in the area also, he was a thorn in the side of Swindon and he’s a player I’d love to see reach his potential.
I was delighted to see Nathan start the game. He gives us something on the flank, a know-how and experience that the other wide players do not. Early on in the game I thought Arnold made a real difference, he delivers a great ball from out wide and he almost teed up Billy for a goal too. If Nathan is back on it and fully fit that can only be positive going forward towards Christmas because he is one of our key players.
Ultimately though, whenever you go away in midweek to a side such as Swindon, everyone has to be on their game if you want a result, and everyone was. Sean Long did superbly after coming back into the side in the absence of Sam Habergham, Rob Dickie was outstanding again and, as usual, Alex Woodyard was excellent. As early as 29 minutes he was making crucial challenge in the penalty area. Sean Raggett not only got the goal but was also excellent. There wasn’t a player that could be picked out that had a poor game. The lads have every right to be extremely proud of the result. Even Jordan Maguire-Drew can be happy, on as a late sub it was his delivery that Raggs nodded into the back of the net. JMD has had a torrid start to the season but hopefully an assist will give him the confidence he needs to kick on.
As I’ve mentioned there has been some negativity around social media, but City are unbeaten in five and a solitary point outside of the play-offs. Imagine, we’re not fully on method and we’re still battling just outside the top seven. What can be achieved when we get to add a couple of bodies and get our injured players back? They say if you win your home games and draw the away games then you’ll be there or thereabouts, well the last five games we’ve played three at home and two away, we’ve won three and drawn two. Textbook. We’ve also kept three clean sheets in five, another superb achievement. Swindon failed to score tonight, the same Swindon that smashed three away at Mansfield on Saturday. Make no mistake, this result is brilliant.
Also, as much as we shouldn’t get carried away, that ‘refuse to lose’ attitude is evident again, the same attitude that served us so well last season. We’ve lost three in the league this season, the same as second placed Notts County and third placed Exeter City. In the last twelve league and cup matches we’ve lost just two, one of those against County which may have been different had we had eleven men on the field. There is a long way to go and the threadbare squad will be tested to the maximum, but the signs are there that we can compete with anyone in this league. Luton, top of the table now and I suspect for the next seven months, couldn’t beat us at Sincil Bank.
Danny Cowley won’t be getting carried away, the players can enjoy this superb win on the way home and then focus on Cheltenham on Saturday. The fans though, we’ll enjoy this right up until Saturday at 3pm. Winning away at Swindon Town is a big achievement, last season two divisions separated these sides but tonight we just wrote another paragraph in the wonderful story of The Cowley’s Lincoln City adventure.