I had to sit down for a second when I first got home tonight and compose myself. Three times in conversation with my other half I referred to us as having lost the game. We didn’t, we got a point, but rarely has it felt that bad to get a point.
On the face of it, from the outside looking in, this was always going to be a tough game. They’re hunting a top seven spot and recruited well in January. They’re slowly building something themselves and always should have made it a hard game. From the inside looking out it’s different and I’ve seen them referred to as ‘nobodies’ on social media this evening.
I’m not going to defend everything I’ve seen this afternoon, but to call Stevenage, a top ten team, ‘nobodies’ is one of two things. It’s either disrespectful to them or its gross arrogance from our fans. I make no apology for saying that either, us being top has given some of our fans a superiority complex. I heard someone behind me, possibly my Dad, say that ‘we’ve not played like a team that’s top of the league all season’. You know what, I’d rather be top and not play like it than fifth having played like champions.
I want to start my analysis by thanking Terry Brown. You might not know him, but he gave me a suitcase full of programmes before the game to sort through. As a regular blog reader he knows they’re my passion and there’s some crackers in there, so cheers Terry. I appreciate it immensely.
Having met him, met with Maria and Martin about the upcoming Cowley v Cowley 2 and then had a Supporter’s Board meeting, I was really enthused for a game of football. These people, the different projects and groups all come together to form a community but it is always about one thing first and foremost; the game.
On paper, I fancied us for this one. I was surprised at the team selection, I expected Andrade and Rowe and the flanks with Shay McCartan starting and I would always have Michael O’Connor in the side. I’m not a fan of Bozzy in midfield, I know some like him there but I feel we miss the mobility in front of the back four when he goes there. He’s a centre half in my eyes and for some reason since Bolger arrived he’s just not looked as comfortable at all.
Then again, I don’t work with the players all week, I don’t see the patterns of play. One pattern did catch my eye in the first five minutes, Danny Rowe and John Akinde linked up nicely to force an early corner. I thought we were going to be on our way early doors, but instead from five minutes to thirty five there was only one side in the game.
We seem to be nervous playing at home and that came through immediately I wonder if we’re beginning to suffer from the same symptoms as other clubs with big crowds, in that the support turns quickly It happened today, as much as the singing was excellent, there were plenty of moans and groan within the first twenty minutes. Freck came in for some stick around me, with the game 0-0. Before the half hour mark I was hearing stuff like ‘we should be putting this shower of sh*t to bed’. This, when Stevenage were clearly the better side.
They wanted to get long efforts in on goal and Chair was a real handful. He was probing and pressing with the ball constantly. His crosses were teasing, his efforts got closer and closer. Even in the first half I’d marked him down as the one to rave about on the NTT20 Sunday Scouting report tweet!
It wasn’t as if we made life all that hard for them. I thought big John had a good first half, running the channels and trying to flick the ball on, but it looked very disjointed. They looked more likely to score, until the final ten minutes or so. Then, in typical Lincoln style, we piled forward and could have taken the lead. Farman spilled a cross, Akinde reacted and headed towards goal and they hacked it off the line. There were plenty of appeals in the stand, but from my angle it looked to be a good clearance.
Within ten minutes it happened again, this time it was definitely not over the line. It was John again, connecting with Pett’s cross but not seeing the net ripple. By the time the half time whistle went the thirty minutes of average football had been forgotten thanks to two John Akinde headers and a couple of set pieces which promised a lot but, like most of our set pieces recently, delivered little.
What is it with our set pieces? We used to be a real threat, but in recent weeks our free kicks have been poor and our corners worse. We were the set piece kings, but I think we used all of our corner magic up at Port Vale. What we wouldn’t do for a sloppy, ill-prepared defence like that again.