Nobody wants to face us in the play-offs, if we get there: Coventry 2-4 Imps

Lincoln City FC never fail to astound me and once again, they’ve defied logic and reason to produce a scintillating display of football that has left fans drooling.

When I say scintillating I don’t mean free-flowing passes and intricate skills, I mean a determined and dogged display of resilience, togetherness and application. We don’t always play pretty, in League Two you can’t, but I dare say Coventry will have us down as one of the best teams they’ve seen this year, simply reciprocating the honour we bestowed upon them in November.

Back then it felt like the masters teaching the newcomers a lesson, their football beat our fight and application, but tonight it was the tortoise that finally got the better of the hare. They’ve run out of steam recently and even a couple of well-worked goals weren’t enough to stop the slow, methodical juggernaut of Lincoln City. Every week we’ve plough on, gaining points, climbing towards the ultimate goal of a play off place. I believe we have enough now, I don’t think our points target will be beaten by Mansfailed, but to be mathematically sure we need just a single point from our last two games. I miss Yeovil at home thanks to being partly converted into a robot the day before (spinal surgery, metal rods and screws in two lumber. Nice), but I’m pretty confident now that match won’t have a bearing on our final position. I hope not, I hope the lads make it irrelevant, just for me.

A draw would have been sufficient tonight, so I stuck a fiver on one of the two teams failing to score. I thought maybe Danny would tighten it up and go there to get what we needed. How foolish am I? A Cowley team always, without fail, goes out to win a game of football. I expect Mark Robins thought that if we didn’t get at them early then he’d settle for a point too. It could have had all the hallmarks of Austria and West Germany from the 1982 World Cup.

Matt Rhead weed on their chips within sixty seconds, smashing home a wonderful goal from Lee Frecklington’s knock down. Within a minute of the game kicking off we’d stuck a middle finger in the air and said ‘we’re here for all three points’. It was a line in the sand, we puffed out our chests, let out a loud battle cry and spanked them early. The goal was almost typical Rhead, a sublime strike from nothing that has become his trademark. He’s not been as prolific this season, but when he hits a ball, it stays hit. The big man was getting a lot of stick from people sat around me Saturday, next time I hear it I’ll just show them a video of that goal and shake my head in a condescending manner.

Baller

That goal immediately set the tone for a frenetic half of football, delightful because we ended up on the right side of it but terrifying from a defensive point of view. Their equaliser was a swift break, knocking the ball about quickly and with ease, much as they had done at our place in November. There wasn’t really anyone to blame on our side, to a man we were playing superbly, but the Sky Blues have quality in abundance and they flexed their muscles right back at us.

Enter Ollie Palmer, the myth, the legend. All season we’ve scratched our heads as to what our best pairing is up top, tonight Danny just shrugged his shoulders and stuck all three on. What is the worst that could happen, right? Palmer, fresh from folding his lunchtime crisps, stumbled almost accidentally through the defence, only we see it every week and that lumbering ‘Paulo Wanchope’ style of his is never accidental. 2-1 City, for around as long as it was 0-0.

Switch off, 2-2. There’s not much else to be said is there? Coventry literally levelled as quickly as we’d opened the scoring, another good goal from them to well and truly kill off my bet and possibly Lincoln City’s spirit.

As if. As if anything can kill our side’s spirit when the chips are down. I’ll tell you what we are right now, we’re a big game team. We occasionally lose focus in the smaller games, but when we are truly needed, each and every man stands up to be counted. Coventry in November seemed like a big game, but there was nothing won and lost in November. Coventry at the end of May was a huge game and we knew exactly what was needed. In those games, we perform. Just like the last 12 games of the National League, just like Forest Green back in November 2016, just like the FA Cup matches and just like the Wembley final.

It was big Ollie Palmer who finished them off, albeit in the first half. He smashed home arguably the scrappiest goal of the evening, a close range finish after a corner wasn’t dealt with properly. I imagine at 3-2 Mark Robins slumped back in his dug out, turned to his assistant and said “why won’t they just settle for a bloody draw?”

Ollie Wanchope

The second half was far more measured and controlled, despite the early Sky Blue pressure. Although it felt as though something could happen at any minute, it only truly happened once more. The superb Matt Rhead, turning in one of his best performances in recent weeks, set up Lee Frecklington, the evenings Man of the Match by some distance. It was fitting Freck got the goal, he’s had his detractors recently but tonight, when pushed, he rose to the occasion. That’s why we signed him, he’s League One quality and so are a majority of our players.

Once we’d got four goals behind us we started to do a bit of the old ‘Wycombe’ tactics. It’s nice to see we weren’t doing it from the first minute, if that had been Wycombe and Coventry I guarantee you it would have been a turgid 0-0. Anyone who says our style is anti-football ought to just bear that in mind.

Time wasting is part and parcel of the game, but tonight’s result shows that last week’s controversial draw with Wycombe was an excellent outcome. We’ve faced two very different sides, successful for their own reasons, but neither has matched us properly. Wycombe subdued us, but never looked like beating us, Coventry came at us and simply couldn’t outscore us. Notts County struggled to handle us at Christmas and Exeter were simply outscored earlier this year too.

Go on, which of those do you think wants to play the Cowley’s Lincoln in a play off match? Who wants the big game team, the organised, fighting side in the end of season mix up? I’ll tell you who. Nobody. That’s who.

What’s the plural of genius?

I’m confident we’ve got enough points to see us face the two-legged semi-final and I’m also confident we’ve got enough in the tank to beat anyone over two legs, certainly anyone in our division. We’re organised, we’re resolute and despite having a small squad, we’re remarkably flexible too. The back four did very well tonight despite being ‘make-shift’, but then when your so-called reserve centre back is a former Welsh international who played League One for six months this season, you’re not in a bad place, are you?

Massive respect to Michael Bostwick too, he’s got to be pushing Neal Eardley hard for the Player of the Year. He’s just an animal, a never-say-die behemoth who bullies and battles his way through every game he plays. I was delighted to see his card was rescinded, the correct decision, and I was over the moon to see him at his dominant best.

Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we focus on Accrington. I feel like Danny Cowley saying that, but that is how I feel. Let’s get to the ‘best’ team in the league and shove it right up them like we can do anyone on our day. It’s the final away day of the season, fancy dress and huge numbers watching two of League Two’s finest sides in action. Accrington can win the title, we can secure promotion and both sets of fans will probably be happy at the final whistle matter not the result. I’m pleased for Accrington in as much as they play football the right way and have defied the odds, but I’d rather it had been us in their position. That said, we all claimed the play-offs would be a massive achievement and to all intents and purposes, that is where we are right now.

Two years ago this week we rounded off a relatively disappointing National League campaign with a 3-2 defeat at home to Woking and I’d written about green shoots of recovery, wondering what the next appointment might do for our club. If I knew then what I knew now, I’d think I was hallucinating.

4-2 at the Ricoh Arena? It’s all in a day’s work for Lincoln City of 2018, arguably the best Lincoln City I’ve seen in my 32 years of following the club.

Reference my Michael Bostwick post from earlier today, I’d like to point out that I wouldn’t ever print speculation as fact. I speculate on transfers, on games and even on how we’ll line up, but when I present something as fact, I do believe it to be so.

I appreciate some people, not my regular readers I hasten to add, were quite condescending about the post, believing it to be both fake news and guess work. Believe it or not, I even received three rather aggressive messages berating the work I do on the Stacey West. All I try to do is provide a interesting website, the sort of place I’d want to visit if I didn’t write it.

Had the club, who were aware very early on in the morning of my knowledge, not wanted me to run the story, I would not have done so.  

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Great night and terrific result, for me that’s our best lineup,
    Play offs with Notts County would be the best result possible
    Wish we had the Ricoh stadium

  2. Fake news? Give me a break. You always make it very clear when you’re speculating. Another great article, and fully supportive of your decision to release the news on Bozzie. UTI.

  3. Great article on the game and miles better than the Lincsecho coverage..
    Unbelievable result against some of the best players in this division.
    We definately have the bes management team. Shame Accrington couldn’t get over the line tonight so it will be tasty come Saturday.

  4. Anyone who had the gall to berate this blog needs a touch of reality bringing to them in spades.

    A fab result, but it just goes to show. Let’s continue to be the underdogs, the fighters and hopefully the new Crazy Gang.

  5. Saw some of the posts re Bossie’s appeal, ‘what does this blogger know’ etc, some were very condescending.

    Ignore it, Gary, your regular readers understand and appreciate what you’re saying and how you deal with information through the club and other sources. Think the word is ‘integrity’.

    One of your best articles, about one of the best nights, in the best 2 years (and counting) in my 50 years supporting the Imps.

    As we were leaving, there was some talk of dismanting the Ricoh, moving it to Lincoln and painting it red. We’d fill it with people and noise as we filled the away end tonight. Extraordinary times.

  6. Don’t worry about it Gary, you were spot on. What a great night that was!

    The Ricoh is a great stadium, but they don’t own it and just look at the grief they have. Old news and been discussed a million times, but I think we should look into redeveloping Sincil Bank, rather than move. They ‘aint built the bridge yet!

  7. A superb result and a great read Gary. The non regular readers of your articles don’t appreciated the insight you bring us which hugely adds to the experience of following this fabulous team. Keep up the good work

  8. Thank you Gary for yet another excellent article. For us you are very much part of ‘the team’ that makes this Club so special. Best wishes for your upcoming surgery.

  9. Yep, agreed. All the negative naysayers should be ashamed of themselves. Keep up the excellent work Gary. I for one never doubt anything you say on your blogs and always enjoy the analysis and great depth and knowledge you give us fans.

    Good luck with your back, I have been under the knife myself many times so I know what’s that like. UTI and keep it up!

  10. Excellent article Gary thank you! I couldn’t be there but I felt like I tasted the atmosphere. We’ve had the Cowleys for a while now but I still find it amazing how they can mastermind a performance like that in a critical game against such strong opposition. Up the mighty Imps!

  11. Gutted I didn’t make it. The lack of pre-planning in my life is legendary within my own circle of family and acquaintances and sometimes bites me in the bum. What a win! As for the detractors elsewhere regarding your comments re Bossie – ignore, no more needs to be said.

  12. How refreshing that both teams set out to win the game rather than the Wycombe outfit.
    Praise also for a very good Ref. Great night for us supporters and the club.

    • I think to be fair to Wycombe, the league table had they not secured a point at Sincil Bank, would look a bit dodgy for them right now. So they did what they needed to do and did it well.

  13. Just for once we got a referee who knows what he is doing.Even thought the booking of Alsop was justified.How many times have we seen goalkeepers being allowed to waste time at Sincil Bank without being punished.Well done Mike Jones would welcome you refereing another Lincoln game in the near future perhaps a Wembly play off final might be appropriate.Supurb performance and what an atmosphere generated by the three thousand imps fans compared with the silent ten thousand Coventry hopefuls.

  14. Personally I thought Bostwick struggled last night, and when DC talked of players at 85%, he was the most obvious one in my mind. Didn’t matter though because Freck was best i’ve seen him, and Woodyard was exceptional. The first and fourth goals were two of the best i’ve seen us score this season and the front three worked tirelessly. Green was unlucky to be booked but ran himself into the ground, and Rhead’s vision and touch were exceptional. What a ball to pick out Freck! I can’t be the only one to think the chance had gone begging.

  15. Superb as always, Gary.
    Stacey West is the go-to for everything Lincoln City. Your post about Bozzie set up my day a treat.
    Your piece on the Colchester game was also top drawer, by the way; particularly with reference to that feeling of elation at the end!

  16. Just listened to Mark Robbins interview after the game – seemed to be naming and shaming some of his own players (reminded me of our ‘mate’ Cooperman at FGR). Compared us to the old Wimbledon and ‘accepted’ Rheady’s goal but not the others – what a (door)nob. After Freck’s goal the Coventry keeper and one of the defenders appeared to blame each other – good team spirit not – wouldn’t surprise me if Mansfield overtake them in the playoffs. Definite sounds of another manager who has underperformed and will be looking for his P45 if they fail to get promotion this season. The Lincoln Loco just does not want to stop – see you all at the Yeovil game. Imps 4ever.

  17. With such a wide readership you will always get the odd anti voice, fair or otherwise. Focus on the good. Much as we dislike him, I dread to think how Chris Sutton can ever look at messages or tweets to him

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