I doubt but I've ever felt less inclined to spend time writing about a football match, such was the level of general ineptitude and lack of pace and passion throughout our side today- but here goes. Losing by a goal in each half to a side that, four years ago, was five divisions below us - not that it matters in the here and now - and in a fashion that does not bode well for anyone at the club, was simply awful. Moanat the ref if you like, as he was pretty poor, but even with the best officials in the world, we'd still have lost.
You know the pre-match routine by now....find a pub that welcomed away fans - in this case, the Still, with its bar-vaulting landlord , and Max Power's dad- avoiding the "drugged-up scallies" nearer the ground, have a few beers while picking the team, and meet up with mates. You probably heard the collective "oooh" as we watched the replay of Loris's arm going the wrong way as he concede the first goal on the telly, and mebbe also the Aycliffe massive outlining Ross's managerial failings. If you didn't, call in the Big Club and ask.
As everyone was being searched, our fans were queuing the length of the stand and many missed the kick off. Sitting in the front row gives you, in theory at least, an uninterrupted view. In reality, it affords a view of latecomers and those who, quite naturally, stop to greet their marras.
Uncharged, which we were reasonably happy with
McLaughlin Willis Lynch De Bock
Gooch O'Nien Maguire
...and we kicked away from the end where our fans were sat. The opening exchanges revealed little other than the home side's possession of shed loads more pace than us, particularly down their right. Their numbers 10 and 11 were putting De Bock under the cosh, and just after the quarter hour they got their 17 in, McLaughlin made a nonsense of the "Big Jon" nickname by flapping ineffectually at the ball instead of flinging himself at it, and succeeded only in getting the last touch as it found its way over the line.
Despite the Imps - whose Lincoln Imp logo, it must be said, looks more like a gargoyle bursting for the lavvy - being first to almost everything, De Bock drew a great save from Vickers in the home goal, who tipped it round the post high to his left, and we put another effort wide. McLaughlin 1 took a couple of crosses but was still on the end of some choice comments from the travelling support as he looked anything but happy with things.
Three added minutes were played out, McLaughlin left his towel and drinks in the net rather than get any closer to the crowd, who were about as happy as he looked. But for some decent defensive stuff from Willis and Lynch, which prevented actual shots on goal, and their 10 deflecting wide a shot from their 17, we could have been more than one goal behind.
A change in formation and personnel seemed to be the obvious course of action, and McNulty duly did a proper warm-up, but the same eleven took to the field for the second half - presumably to give them five minutes to redeem their first half showing.
We won a corner, and when it eventually came in, McLaughlin 2 rose highest neat the penalty spot, but the header flew wide of the keeper's right-hand post. Bugger.
It could all have gone even worse when De Bock, outpaced again, brought down Andrade in the box. In a turn of events that was pure Sunday morning, Walker best McLaughlin, but the ball smacked off the inside of our keeper's left hand post and flew back across the goal to safety. That lifted our spirits a bit, and when Ross decided it was time for change, on came McNulty and McGeady for Maguire and Gooch. It seemed like the sensible option, and for a few minutes we had a bit of spark about our game. The noise picked up in our end, which was a pleasant change from their bloody drum.
That little period of decent play didn't last long, as their right side were giving us constant grief. Nowt spectacularly clever, just very crisp and very fast. Just before the hour, they made it count, when Andrade left our left back for dead and crossed for Walker to pop it home. Game over.
Five minutes later, Grigg was on for De Bock, with O'Nien going to left back and McNulty dropping a little deeper, but it was basically three up front. We had a few free kicks in dangerous positions, but McGeady hit the wall and Power fired way over. Another found Wyke coming in from the right, but he put it back across and wide.
We huffed and we puffed and got crosses in, but too often of the floaty, inaccurate sort that the home defence dealt with. One did get knocked down, but O'Nien could only poke it over in the scramble that followed. The last ten minutes saw us get really desperate, and Lynch stayed up top to add another target - which we didn't hit. There were five added minutes, during which a fair number of our followers made their feelings known as they left to join others who'd given up and left earlier.
Then it was all over. Some of the players came to applaud the fans - Power I'm particular - but McLaughlin's towel remained next to the post where their keeper had put them. A rotten performance, with precious few positives to look back on. At least it didn't rain on the front row. The highlights for us were a shot that was saved, the penalty miss, and (a personal fave) me catching the ball after Power punched it high in the air in despair near the end of proceedings. Surprisingly, it was very soggy,
Man of the Match? Today, it's hard to pick anyone.
In fact, I can't. Sorry, not sorry. Worrying times for Jack Ross