If we can get a win today, then I could start to believe that we're turning the corner but as with most ifs that's a big one. I was at the Lincoln away game and it put the final nail in Jack Ross's coffin as from the early stages of that match it became very clear that we were going backwards and not forwards. We've managed to remain unbeaten in four games and presumably we'll be fielding much the same side that faced Fleetwood unless there's an injury I don't know about. It sounded like we should've beaten Fleetwood but at least we managed to fight back for a point. I think we should've taken a more attacking attitude much earlier in that game so I hope McNulty and Watmore won't be held back for so long today. Ours is the only match in League One this afternoon so we have the opportunity to make one of our games in hand count. I'm glad we've slotted this game in for that reason but it would have been sad to have no game as we sat out the F.A. Cup 3rd Round for the first time ever. I won't be at the match but I imagine there'll be a decent crowd so hopefully they'll give the backing we had in the Donny game. Lincoln are just below us in the league and will be a handful but I've a feeling we'll just edge it so my match prediction is a 2-1 win.
When I got the team-news at 2.15, the only change I could see was that Flanagan was in for Lynch. I tuned into SAFSEE feeling optimistic and wondered how long my mood would last. We started off attacking the Roker End and within a minute or so Maguire put in a good shot that went just wide. Next thing we won the first corner of the game so it was a bright start from us. Maguire was in the thick of everything and he soon forced another corner and our fans were in good voice. Wyke took a knock and had to go off for a while and Lincoln won their first corner in the interim. I hoped it wasn't going to be another case of us starting brightly, not taking our chances and then going behind. We survived a bit of a flurry from Lincoln and then after resuming our pressure we went ahead in the nineteenth minute when Flanagan headed in a Maguire corner to put us ahead. It was good to see Flanagan getting on the score-sheet after his seemingly good goal against Bolton was ruled out. Within a few minutes it was 2-0 and it was Maguire again who fed Gooch and he hit home to send our fans wild. I fancied another 5-0 and in the twenty-ninth minute Gooch rolled in number three as the Lincoln defence sounded all over the place. What a great boost a hefty win in the first home game of the year would be so we needed to keep banging away and not start settling back as we so often have. We continued to press forward for the rest of the half while Lincoln were hardly getting a sniff so unless something truly horrible happened (and we know that can happen of course), the three points were looking to be in the bag. In the final minute a Willis header was well tipped over by Vickers in goal and as the half-time whistle went there was lots of applause. Among other things commentator Benno praised the team for its work-rate and that was very good to hear.
As we kicked off again Lincoln had made their second substitution and switched to two men upfront so they weren't about to lie down. They almost immediately had a chance to pull one back but O'Nien took the ball off Akinde's toe to maintain our clean sheet. We were sounding rather sloppy and after ten minutes or so I got the feeling we weren't going to get another and it might end 3-1. Benno said we needed to get hold of the game again and as the hour-mark passed we needed to get a sub on. Very soon Watmore came on for Maguire, who received a deserved ovation and responded to our fans in turn. In the sixty-sixth minute Hume didn't control the ball and after Anderson had crossed, Walker was there to tap it in to make it 3-1. There were appeals from McLaughlin for a foul but the goal stood. The Lincoln fans were now in good voice as their side won another corner and things were getting a bit jittery. Benno said we were half a yard off the pace and Nick Barnes suggested we'd psychologically switched off after the first-half. On a brighter note a shot by Power crashed off the angle of the bar and post in the seventy-third minute and I relaxed a bit. Benno suggested we brought on Leadbitter to add some stability and I could've done with some stability in my internet signal as it kept cutting out as we entered the final ten minutes. O'Nien was yellow-carded right near the end and must be close to a suspension and in the closing moments Leadbitter did indeed come on, for Gooch who also was given a deserved ovation. I couldn't wait for the whistle to come as it had been a nervy half but there was a lot of positive noise when it finally ended.
Three goals, three points and we've moved up four places. Now if only we could play for two halves instead of one...