Anger is a funny thing.
It can be a sign of an issue within you, if you’re angry all of the time, or if everything angers you, but mostly, when you get angry there’s a reason. Maybe someone cuts you up in your car, or you read something on Twitter that is so wrong your blood boils. Sometimes you come away from Sincil Bank feeling angry at a defeat and need someone to place it upon, a player maybe or the manager. I walked away from the ground last night feeling angry, looking for a scapegoat, and my go-to outlet is always the referee. He wasn’t to ‘blame’ for our defeat last night. Maybe Joe Walsh was for the handball, maybe the players who missed chances were, but the truth is this (like it or not); we were the better team throughout that game, and deserved nothing less than all three points. The odd anger doesn’t have a viable outlet, no matter how much you mark Morgan Whittaker down, or say Cullen offers nothing because, in my opinion at least, you’re wrong saying that.
I was also angry at the stewarding last night, but not the incident with the morons from Doncaster invading the pitch. I was upset that despite a clear incident in the crowd, it took some of our stewards a good minute or so to realise what was going on. Some, not the regular faces I might add, just stood looking up at the crowd as if it wasn’t their job to alert the referee or the medical team. Of course, the anger I felt walking away from the crowd was offset by the sheer relief of seeing that gentleman waving from his stretcher after the alert medical staff finally got him out of the ground. It was a strange evening with so much going on, stranger for me because of my nephew’s first game.
For that, I experienced real joy, and that made the evening even stranger. Everyone was great to Isaac, on the way home he said ‘I like being famous’, because so many people came and spoke to him. He met some players thanks to the club (and the excellent SLO team) with Tom Hopper being a real highlight (why is there a picture of Danny Butterfield on my school wall, but not Tom Hopper he asked, not knowing whether Tom even went to his school). If only he could have been coming away with a win. Or a point. Or a goal.
Usually, when a game lacks these things, I feel we’ve been disappointing, but I didn’t feel that, certainly not in the first 45 minutes. We named a team without one key player from the last two weeks; Scully dropped to the bench and Morgan Whittaker came in. Now, I know Whittaker is everyone’s punchbag at the moment, and at times he does look a little lethargic, but I thought he was excellent in the first half, as every single player was. I’ve seen so much negativity around the team selection, and the performance, but nobody seems willing to accept there are positives in losing to the bottom team. Nor can anyone understand why a player who has played 180 minutes in the space of seven days, in a role where you do more running than anywhere, might be dropped for one game. Of course, if said player got injured through over-exposure, we wouldn’t be managing him properly. Football fans; so many only see one side of the coin.
The side of the coin I saw in the first half was the shiny side, an improvement on the Groundhog Day Lincoln that drew 0-0 with Doncaster earlier in the year. City controlled possession aginst the usual wall of opposition players, and found spaces where they appeared. Of course, it’s no consolation to those reading this who want a scapegoat, but Morgan Whittaker drew a fine save from their keeper after good work by Brooke Norton-Cuffy, before Cohen Bramall supplied Liam Cullen with an opportunity that drew another good save from the keeper. In between those moments we had others than we less controlled, efforts going wide and over.
In fact, having watched the highlights back, I am surprised that Sky have cut so many out. My recollection of the first half was one of completed domination, multiple chances and a frustration one hadn’t gone in. We did what we were unable to do at the Keepmoat last season; test the keeper, with a Marquis chance prompting a mad scramble in the area that again should have brought a goal. When Doncaster did go forward and have a single effort from outside of the area, their rowdy and impressive fanbase celebrated as if they’d scored a goal. I think they’ll be playing League Two football next season, mainly due to their team being really, really poor, but their support is definitely League One quality and if they do go (and we don’t), it will be a shame to lose that derby atmosphere. It won’t be a shame to lose the individual nob heads who invaded the pitch lat on, or the guy at the front shining his camera light onto the game, unchallenged, throughout, but you get those sorts in every fanbase.
The biggest chance of the half came just before half time, and for the life of me I’ve no idea how it hasn’t gone in. Sky haven’t picked it for their highlights, but Norton-Cuffy (again) supplied the ball only for us to fire over when it looked easier to score. I can’t recall who had the effort, as I’d beaten the queue for halftime drinks, given that Isaac was thirsty, so I only saw it on the screen under the stand. As yet, Wyscout’s highlights are not up, so I can’t dissect it either.
HT: 🔴 0-0 🔵
— Lincoln City FC (@LincolnCity_FC) February 15, 2022