I’ve driven home from tonight’s game wondering how to articulate my thoughts without being called clueless. You see, I don’t really subscribe to much of the criticism being levelled at both Wycombe and the referee, a view I know might not be shared by everyone.
As I understand it, a majority of fans believe the referee was appalling all game, we should have had one goal, if not two and a penalty. Wycombe ruined the game, Gareth Ainsworth has let his hero status slide a little and we’re all shocked and appalled at the way they played.
It’s late and I’m in no mood for picking the bones from our team selection or other finer points of the game, so I’ll wade straight into the big decisions. The first ‘goal’ was, apparently, ruled out incorrectly. I didn’t see it properly but I’m told Rhead was not offside when he got the ball to Frecklington. The linesman on the far side disagreed and few in the ground argued the point. Fair enough, the referee can only follow his linesman, it wasn’t the right decision but we all thought it was.
Rheady then pushed their defender for the second goal. Again, I didn’t see it but from several reliable sources I’m told it was correctly ruled out. I was angry at the time, but I wouldn’t comment further on something I didn’t see clearly. It’s harsh again, but do either of those chances matter if Freck hasn’t skied his effort a few moments afterwards? One on one with the keeper and he went for power, not placement. The ensuing furore over the officials and Wycombe have missed the pertinent point that we should have been 1-0 up by our own means. Harry Anderson skewed his good early effort wide too when hitting the target probably brought a goal. At 2-0, does the referee’s decision seem so important?
I will argue the point about Harry’s penalty, it was a stonewall. I was once again in a box courtesy of Running Imp and the incident was right in front of us. I believe out of anyone in the ground, we had one of the best views and it was 100% a penalty. Yes, Harry went down too easily, but does that mean it isn’t a foul? He was between the player and the ball, the player made contact, significant contact, and Harry went to ground. Correct me if I’m wrong, but contact in the box is a penalty, is it not? I won’t argue he was looking for it, but it was not a dive, the defenders body moved into Harry’s without a shadow of a doubt. That is a crucial moment and the referee got it wrong, but moments later he gives a free kick to them not twenty yards away for an identical incident. That was inconsistent and typical of his poor performance, but to label him on of the worst ever seen at the Bank is ignoring some pretty horrendous displays, not least from Seb Stockbridge or the clown that took charge against York City last season.
They are the three big points, but if Freck and Harry had not been wasteful they wouldn’t have mattered. We got a few cheap free kicks too, it wasn’t all one way. Late in the second half Elliott broke down the right, then held on to his defender for a minute before going to ground, incorrectly winning the free kick. Yes, the referee was poor but he wasn’t all one-sided. He fluffed his lines, he crumbled in the face of TWO teams who use any advantage they can, on or off the ball.
As for Gareth Ainsworth, we’re talking about him sullying his legend because he brings a team to Sincil Bank that, aside from playing into danger alley, do everything he did on the field that made him a legend here in the first place? Seriously? That was a softer version of Beck’s Lincoln, from cultured wingers (Ainsworth / Mackail-Smith) to veteran forwards (Tyson / Stant) and back to oddly shaped players (Akinfenwa / Bos). I don’t like to see football played that way, if it was football and if they were playing it, but how on earth can we sit and criticise something we used to celebrate?
Let’s not sit in the stands pretending we’re this free-flowing side that operate under the banner of good sportsmen all the time, eh?
The radio feedback talked about their time-wasting and game management, have a look at us in the last ten minutes of the Checkatrade final, or the final fifteen of the Exeter game and tell me if it was any different at all? Danny had the good grace to acknowledge that too, that is how Wycombe play and I’m afraid sometimes it is how we play. Maybe we’re not as blatant, maybe we’re not as good at it, but at times there’s only a few subtle differences between us and Wycombe. If we were third, needing a point on the road, do you think we’d be significantly different to them? Yes, certain aspects might change, but on the whole that was a Lincoln-esque performance. That isn’t me being critical of us or of Wycombe, but let’s not sit in the stands pretending we’re this free-flowing side that operate under the banner of good sportsmen all the time, eh? We’re not quite as bad as they were, but we know how to kill a game when we need to.
I thought when we did play a bit of football we looked the better side. We weren’t on it, but the game was entertaining if not a good advert for the sport. We had a few chances, one or two we should have taken and one or two we did well with, but the same issues that have dogged us all season sprung up. Had we another Matt Green to play with our current Matt Green up front, we win that game 2-0 tonight. No slur on Rheady or Ollie Palmer, but just as was the case on Saturday, Green found himself playing good balls across the area to nobody. Against Grimsby, Whitehouse played the same ball across the area and Matt Green finished it off. We’re not hiding from the fact our squad is ever so slightly short, but lets not blame the officials or Wycombe for not winning the game. We had the chances.