LFL v Lincoln


I'll be heading off to catch the train to Lincoln in half an hour and I'm looking forward to my first match since the opening game against Oxford two months ago. Lincoln started off well this season but have lost four and drawn one of their last five games. So, we have to fancy our chances this afternoon but that's what we thought before the Bolton match. Things have gone quiet on the takeover/Ross out fronts but I just hope we don't have to go through scoring first, dominating the game and then hanging on grimly like we did last Saturday. I wouldn't bet against Power scoring another as he's clearly got his shooting boots back on again and I fancy us to score at least twice with O'Nien quite possibly scoring too. It's the other end which is more concerning of course and as Lincoln have more than managed to average a goal a game, they'll no doubt get another today. I don't know about any injury news apart from Embleton being sidelined but all being well, either McGeady or McNulty will return and that would give something for the Lincoln defenders to worry about. I think we're going to win and my match prediction is 3-1.

As I changed trains at Newark a good number of the faithful became evident and as we boarded the local service to Lincoln the guard said to us, “Easy three points” to which someone replied, “No such thing.” Quite right anall. I had to meet a couple of pals in the Golden Cross on the High Street and it had a deceptive appearance as it looked small on the outside but upon entering I saw that it had a huge beer garden at the back and our fans were more than welcome. Charlie Methven was standing right next to me as I slurped a couple of bottles of Peroni to clear the dust from my throat. As I was frisked entering the ground the frisker said that we'd win easy as Oxford had beaten them 6-0. I wished. I hadn't realized that Lincoln also played in red and white stripes and had imagined, no doubt influenced by watching loads of Robin Hood on the telly when I was a kid, that they played in Lincoln green. I was in my seat in our end around 2.30 but it was in a crap location - right on the corner-flag in the first row. Anyway, ALS Supremo Martyn passed by and gave me a wave and soon Sobs came by too as did Rob from the London Branch - all the lads were there! The Lincoln 'end' was right up against ours and they were certainly in good voice before the teams came out despite their recent poor form.

We had both McGeady and McNulty on the bench and the overall picture was looking bright. Then the match started. They took the game to us from the off and got a corner in the second minute. Okay it was a laugh when Payne slipped on his arse when he took it but what ensued was less than amusing as we continued to be on the receiving end for most of the first-half. Lincoln were very physical and at times it looked more like all-in wrestling than football as we tried to attack but they received three yellow-cards for their pains, though the ref seemed reluctant to award us many free-kicks. He was of a rather stout stature and received a couple of chants of, “You fat bastard!” I wasn't too surprised when Lincoln took the lead in the eighteenth minute but I thought McLaughlin in goal had the ball covered as it approached him. Walker managed to nip him before him to flick it home from close range and that horrible feeling of disbelief settled all around me. Power produced our one decent effort around the half-hour mark when he smashed in a great shot from outside the box but Vickers in goal made an equally good save to turn it away for a corner. That effort gave us a bit of a spur for a few minutes but then Lincoln took over again and we produced nothing goalworthy for the rest of the half. There was a good deal of booing from our end as the whistle went and I have to say it had been a largely inept display all round.

As we kicked off again my 3-1 prediction was looking very wobbly indeed. We started off with a bit of oomph but got nowhere and then seven minutes in we conceded a penalty. Walker took it but his effort bounced off the right post before travelling right across the goal and out of play. That was a shot in the arm and when we promptly replaced Maguire and Gooch with McGeady and McNulty, things were looking up. Sadly they weren't and indeed things went even further downhill. Our movement and passing were crap and Lincoln had much more tenacity in them so that they won nearly every loose ball. We hardly won a thing in the air despite persisting in long, high balls and on the rare occasion we had a chance our finishing was poor. Lincoln went 2-0 up in the fifty-ninth minute following a great move. A long diagonal ball from the centre of the pitch was crossed quickly from the right and Walker was there again to snatch his second from close range. There was clearly no coming back from that and many of our fans promptly made for the exit. That's not something I'd ever do but what I had to witness was, as Dr John Cooper Clarke would say, like a fairytale i.e. grim. We brought Grigg on several minutes after their second goal and let's face it – if you're looking for a saviour, Grigg isn't going to be it. The crowd of over 10,000 was a ground record apparently. Well, we were setting some kind of recent record for ineptitude. As five minutes of stoppage-time that I could've done without were announced both sets of fans found some kind of harmony as our end sang, “We're fuckin crap! We're fuckin crap! We're fuckin crap!” and they sang, “You're fuckin crap! You're fuckin crap! You're fuckin crap!” There were also chants from our end of, “You're getting' sacked in the mornin'!” It ended 2-0 to more booing.

This was a worryingly toothless and lacklustre display and I can't argue with the result. We'll never get out of this league if we continue to play like this.

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