On the face of it, a draw yesterday afternoon wouldn’t seem like a good result. Northampton had been talking about relegation before picking up four points in two matches, they should have been put to the sword.
A Lincoln City side with eleven men on the field could have done that, but things are not that easy at Sincil Bank these days. We made it one defeat in 15 league matches, or two wins from eight in all competitions. Stats, eh?
Let’s start by me apologising for the lateness of today’s work. I’ve had a few issues with the site that have ended up costing me a fair bit to solve, but we should be fine now, back up and running as normal. I’ve also had a shift to do the FLW, where you lot made a Lincoln City story one of the biggest of the day!
Anyway, the real focus pre-match was on a togetherness. The fan base has felt fractured in recent weeks, even articles asking for togetherness brought about a certain negativity. You can see comments on my rallying cry from Friday, both on the blog and social media, to see that there’s still an element who want to be vocal in their negativity. It isn’t easy, before the game my mate Dave and I spoke about being positive, but within half an hour he was criticising aspects of our play. It’s natural of course, when you want something so bad to become frustrated.
Aside from missing Bozzy we were pretty much at full strength and I thought we started quite purposeful. The tone of the afternoon was set inside the first minute or two when Lee Frecklington was pole-axed in the middle of the park. Michael Salisbury, a referee already earmarked by other fans as rogue, gave nothing. It led me to think perhaps there was going to be a talking point or two.
If you watch the challenge it can be interpreted two ways, either he gets lamped in a 50/50 or he’s cleverly taken out by the defender. Without my rose-tinted glasses on, I think it’s the latter. He was walloped and the ref did nothing. It wasn’t a red, but it was a foul. Still, we’re Lincoln City and right now, we get very little at home.
Frecklington went off not long after. Our PFA Player of the Month nomination had been targeted and taken out. Mission accomplished and the referee hadn’t seen it as a foul. Keith Curle would have been delighted.
The tone of the match was set in a scrappy first fifteen minutes or so. There’s going to be a lot of talk about poor old David Buchanan and his bloody shins, but on 13 minutes he scythed Harry Anderson down in front of the dugouts and got a booking. It’s clear that their early game plan was to intimidate and be aggressive. I think that was intended to get Danny on the ref’s back immediately and eventually, turn his decisions against us. Keith Curle admitted they had a plan to combat the intense home atmosphere and I firmly believe that was it.
If you need evidence, count how many yellow cards we had in the game. Tell you what, I’ll save you the time. None. You know why? because we’re not thugs and bullies like other fans would have you believe. We’re not aggressive and dirty either. Northampton had four and that was with a referee who, in his spare time, has a Cobblers season ticket. Probably.
Northampton made the odd foray into our half, but I thought we were comfortable enough and when Bruno bagged for us it seemed as though the game would only go one way. After a tetchy and niggly half an hour, a bit of class from John Akinde and a touch of composure from Bruno brought us a goal worth watching over and over again. It was great play by both and the goal instantly lifted the supporters. I took the opportunity to go to the loo along with perhaps fifty others who had all been holding it, waiting for the spark.
Within minutes we got another glimpse of the referees uncertainty as he gave a foul against Bruno as he went through on goal, despite the Cobblers man slipping. Danny Rowe was then fouled (in my opinion) as he went through and got nothing given. Danny was getting angrier, the crowd were too and a couple of minutes before the break it exploded. A ball forward went beyond Anderson and he launched into Buchanan. There’s little doubt it was a red, I couldn’t argue against it.
After that it felt as though the referee lost us and the grip of the game. He signalled four minutes injury time, but played six. A minute after time he awarded a dubious free kick on the edge of the area, two minutes over the time Northampton scored a goal from a badly defended corner. it meant the team went in level at the break.
I was across the other side for a cheque presentation and saw the referee come off the field. He did so to a volley of abuse, one man in the Selenity Stand reserved some very hateful spite. Michael Salisbury smiled, slightly smug if anything, and turned away. I couldn’t help but feel that sort of anger swung him further against us in the second half.
Next Page – taking the positives