Imps Rewind: Waterfall’s late, late show

Game changer

Ollie came on in the second half and changed the complexion of our attack, his direct and unpredictable running did not do their defenders any favours. Ten minutes in and he gets a little nick as he’s shooting, penalty to Lincoln. Having watched the big man trying to win one all game, it was refreshing to see us actually get one from a player trying to shoot and get on with things.

I’m not a fan of the arguing over the penalty, it’s not the first time we’ve seen it either. didn’t it happen last season, Terry Hawkridge taking (and missing) one? Seeing that hints at disharmony in the ranks and whilst it may not be the case, it was petulant and stupid. Not that it mattered when Elliott finally got his own way, his calm penalty gave us the platform upon which we should have built a fine win.

They should have been down to ten men too, the elbow from Mandron was dangerous. I conceded we might have suffered the same at Wembley, but it doesn’t change the fact Scott Wharton was laid out from what looked like a cynical elbow. I’m told Mandron isn’t that type of player, but the referee saw it, the linesman saw it and they gave a yellow. How can an elbow be a yellow card? At Wembley, the ref saw a collision, hence the yellow, but this was a different situation. if it’s a foul, it’s a red, surely? I suppose therein lies the ‘beauty’ of football, eh?

We then lose possession in the attacking half and concede a well-worked goal. Colchester break at speed and have some good players, but all afternoon we looked susceptible to a quick counter. Rheady got a bit muddled, a lot around me were getting mad at him but there’s a lot of players between him past the half way line and the back of our net. Danny won’t be happy with it though, we got caught in a game we really should have been closing down.

At 1-1, Mansfield scored and suddenly the world looked a much darker place. Clouds formed in the sky and it was there I found myself looking on 83 minutes. Colchester had missed a gifted chance to extend their lead, Ollie Palmer had struck another worldy against the underside of the bar, then Bozzie got caught in a chase. I’m not sure how that is a red card, their player is not within two steps of a goal-scoring chance, Luke is covering and from where I was stood, it looked like six of one and half a dozen of the other. I’ve seen Matt Green impeded, in the same way, most weeks, but Crawley at home and Wimbledon away in particular spring to mind, both with nothing given. Danny intends to appeal, rightly so. It was a poor decision and one that could have cost us an awful lot. They say these things even themselves out, but not when you’ve got three games left and your closest challengers are winning.

1-0, Whitehouse

As both games drew to a close I expected the heavens to open, the rain to fall and our season to be washed away. Instead, divine intervention. Pope Tom of Port Vale grabbed an equaliser at Field Mill, restoring some parity and giving us a chance from our game in hand. If only we could get something from a game in which we’d rarely threatened, not least from a set piece.

We’ll talk about the goal for a long while to come, but remember how we got the chance from yet another tireless Matt Green run. He’s been brilliant for us this season and yet again he put in a display worthy of winning man of the match. His tireless running saw him create the crossing chance. It had to be, didn’t it? We’d wasted so many, but this is Danny and Nicky Cowley, this is the new Lincoln City, the ones who give us more thrills and spills than we’ve collectively had in a decade. I swear from my angle it looked as though Luke Waterfall jumped fifteen feet in the air to head that ball home, but once again, it was Captain Fantastic and his magic hat giving us something to cheer.

He’s something odd; I celebrated that goal harder than I did Elliott’s at Wembley. The whole season rested on that one cross, that one header. The outpouring of joy was fuelled by a whole season of pressure, slowly building up game after game. Just a few minutes before everything had looked gloomy, but like the threatened rain, it passed quickly and all we got was sunshine. We got the 2-1 win, we got one of those moments of unbridled joy that only a football fan can understand. Only by travelling to Port Vale and watching a turgid 1-0 defeat, only by following Mansfield’ result all afternoon, by lamenting missed chances in a game last November can you truly understand that moment when the net bulges in the 95th minute of a huge game like this.

The moments we live for

I’ve been out for a meal with my mate Dave (40th birthday too, old bugger) and a couple in the party said football was only a game. Anyone who says that hasn’t lived one of those moments, those last-minute game-changer moments. They’re what I refer to as ‘Danny specials’, often seemingly a stroke of luck but surely happening far too often to be deemed so. Remember Ipswich at home, Adam Marriott came on a freed Nathan. Remember Torquay, Marriott again won the free kick Sam scored. Against Gateshead Danny made a decision not to bring Nathan off despite normally always doing so. Today, he sent on Luke with ten minutes to go and got his rewards. He might humbly call it luck, but it isn’t. Those results happen through hard work, tenacity and belief. Most of all, they happen because of belief.

We weren’t great today, we weren’t against Gateshead, we weren’t against Torquay, but those three matches will always be right up there when it comes to great memories and that, ladies and gentleman, is why we love this f*cking game.

Three to go and never, ever bet against us. Sunderland away, opening game of the season. Believe.