Some fans often feel like a ‘Jonah’, the term used for a sailor or passenger who brings bad luck to a ship. In football terms, a Jonah is a fan who sees his team lose a disproportionate amount of times.
This season, I’ve seen 62% of Lincoln’s away defeats, 37% of their draws and just a solitary win. Considering we’ve won nine away, seeing just one is appalling. I’m not able to make any play-off semi-final, should we be there, due to the back operation I keep banging on about, but the players might just be thankful for that given my dubious record.
Not that I blame myself for yesterday’s rather lacklustre defeat. We all traveled across the country in a party mood, almost certain we’d get a point and if we didn’t, certain Mansfield would fluff their lines. Thanks to Lee Angol, they secured the points they needed meaning we go into the final game not knowing our fate.
There was a bit of worry spreading around social media last night, fans saying it was ‘squeaky bum’ time and that sort of thing. Not for me, not one bit. We’re still overwhelming favourites to make the top seven, we hold a three-point cushion and need a draw against Yeovil to be certain. If the unthinkable were to happen and they were to win, anything other than a Mansfield win against Crawley would still see us qualify.
I recall playing Yeovil in consecutive seasons over a decade ago, needing nothing to secure our play off spots. I recall losing 3-2 in the first game with a player called Aron Wilford bagging his only Imps goal, then we lost 3-0 the year after. Third time lucky for the win and momentum needed to get us into the play-offs. Here’s hoping so.
Yesterday started with a party atmosphere in the warm sunshine backed by a healthy number of traveling Imps, but it ended in a damp squib as we made our way from the ground wet, cold and looking for Mansfield’s game to finish in something other than a 3-2 win. I hate Lincoln losing and for an hour or so after a match I get really down about it, but the fresh day brings a dose of reality and the realisation that three points from those last two tough away fixtures is a good haul.
As for Accrington, I’m pleased they’re champions, they typify the beauty of the game, the little man triumphing with hard work and endeavor. They won’t win any hospitality awards though, eight portaloos for 1,700 travelling fans is barely sufficient for a start. I was incredibly dismayed at the set up in the away end, it was dangerous that they insisted on moving fans into the packed terracing when there was no room. Various reports have come through to me about fans crushed together so tightly they were barely standing on the ground. A lady near me was told she couldn’t bring her mobility scooter in, despite being disabled.
The stewards were a mix of good and bad, one or two were angrily telling fans to move away from the front of the terraces, whilst others realised the situation wasn’t ideal and showed common sense. In the end a steward came to us berating his own club for selling too many tickets. I get it, they’re not the richest club and they need to grab every penny while they can, but at the expense of safety? Not for me.
On the pitch our first half showing was turgid, don’t shoot me down for being a moaner but it was. I’m not saying we are poor, you take the rough with the smooth, but we didn’t play well. I didn’t think Accrington were great either, the game barely lived up to the pre-match hype. They’re meant to be a free-flowing passing side who switch play around and pose a constant menace, but aside from the bundled goal they threatened about as much as we did (very little).
The goal was avoidable but you couldn’t lay the blame at anyone’s feet, it happens and you must have the character to get up and get on with it. From a defensive point of view we could have done better, but football is a game in which you concede goals. That is unavoidable at times, you just have to make sure you score some. We didn’t.
I’ve seen some criticism of the referee, wholly unjust in my eyes. It’s easy to pile into the official when you’re playing badly, but he wasn’t to blame for the penalty we gave away. It was a penalty and Allsop was alert enough to save the oddly Southgate-esque strike from Billy Kee.
I was impressed with Scott Wharton in the first half and that continued into the second also. That lad is so talented, he dropped into the centre if he needed to cover but shows quality in carrying the ball down the flank when called upon. His passing is good, he’s strong in the air and he’s hungry and committed. He’s an awful lot like that Norwich reserve player we all like so much, only he can play full back too.
Aside from the goal I thought we looked good across the back, it was getting forward that we struggled with, but that was a testament to Accrington as much as it is detrimental to us. Two decent side were cancelling each other out and, had the hosts read the script, it had draw written all over it. But for that one goal it was an equal contest.
Second half we looked better than we had, not with a cutting edge but certainly improved. I called for the three strikers all to start in the run up to the game and we saw the other side of it in Accrington. Against Coventry they poured forward finding space, but Accrington shut down Rheady and that nullified Green and Palmer’s threat too. Both worked hard, there’s never a lack of effort from Danny’s sides, but it just didn’t come off. I was very surprised to see Palmer come off and not Rheady, but when you’ve got all three strikers on the field you’re not left with many options.