Reality Check

Life brings inevitable disappointment, it’s just something you have live with. That hyped new film which is ultimately all effects and no story. That first date with a girl who has taken a tactical profile picture and looks more like Worzel Gummidge than Aunt Sally. The new job that promises variety and satisfaction but ends up as bloody telesales, and Lincoln City losing games they’re expected to win. I thought it’d all changed after the Tuesday night thumping of Ferriby, but by Saturday it was business as usual.

By business as usual I don’t mean we’re suddenly garbage again, I mean we entered into 90 minutes of frustration and came away with nothing. We’re not going down, we simply lost a game of football. I’ll boldly predict we’ll lose some more before the end of the season. No shocks there.

In football things conspire against you from time to time, just like real life. Today I needed to get to a house on Cross Street to drop some bits off but the roads were terrible, we didn’t have the stock and I ended up taking all day about it. It was unforeseen and whatever I did I simply couldn’t avoid the inconvenience that occurred. On Saturday we suffered the same.

Firstly the injury to Matt Rhead really knocked us. I think DC had decided to go a bit more direct as he knew Sutton would be a physical side. It seemed logical to try and get the ball to Matt before he sprayed it out wide. With Brad in midfield we lacked the pace down one flank to create from full back so it looked like some of the play would skip Woodyard and go longer up the field. However that game plan was scuppered by a completely unforeseen injury. Trying to switch a game plan while the ball is in play is tough, and I don’t think it’s a surprise that once DC had the players in the dressing room things changed. He was able to convey the game plan back to them, and Sam’s equaliser was fair given the run of play.

I’m not going to comment on the free kick for the goal, because defenders sometimes make challenges that lead to free kicks. Sean Raggett is a fine defender who will grow into a cracking player for us and I’ve no qualms about him giving away a free kick where he did. It’s football.

Of course Brad then got sent off, and it’s difficult to get any real sense of what actually happened. My eye had moved away from the ball but Ben in front of me was sure Brad had stamped on his player. Knowing the player it does seem unlikely, but there didn’t seem to be an option not to send him off once the linesman saw what had happened. Having spoken to Brad he’s sure he never actually touched him and he was trying to gain his balance, unfortunately in the absence of solid video evidence an appeal is unlikely. The FA are more inclined to believe the referee and his assistants than they are the player. The truth is the tussle was unsavoury which ever way you look at it, and a player of Bradley Woods persuasion is always going to get involved. He is going to get other red cards in his career, if he didn’t he’d be altering his combative style of play and that would be worse for the club in the long term than the three match ban he picked up. He’s gutted, it did affect the game but you move on. It’s football.

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Simon Barrow isn’t from Sutton for all you conspiracy theorists. He’s from Tamworth.

 

I’ve heard plenty said about the referees level of experience and his application during the game. He was very poor and he could have evened it up pretty quickly if he’d wanted after Beevers caught an elbow. All afternoon he did seem to err towards Sutton but once again we have to accept this will happen at some point. We will get referees who are inexperienced at this level because at some point all referees have to step up. There’s no denying he had a bad game but unfortunately we have seen it time and time again not only in this league but also the one above. In sixty per cent of our games we’re probably going to criticise the ref, and in another sixty per cent our opponents will criticise him. On Saturday both managers had reason to comment on his performance, but DC didn’t. He stated that he can’t control the referee so he won’t comment on him, and I liked hearing that. The referee didn’t lose us the game by any stretch of the imagination, but he was a factor in Sutton winning it. If we’d solely had a bad referee and kept Rheady and maybe even Brad on the pitch we might have won it. In truth up until the events we’d been fairly poor anyway, something that will happen. You get bad days at the office, the trick is overcoming them. That’s football.

Until the FA offer good incentives for ex players to enter refereeing then I’m afraid we’re going to get officials like him some weeks. He has to make mistakes in order to learn and I’m sure the assessor will have had him over the desk for a couple of hours after his shocker. That said I don’t think for one second he consulted Sutton players or had any prior connection to them that influenced the game. There’s no conspiracy, he was just crap.

I thought we fought our way back into the game well and 3-1 flattered them but the records show it as a big defeat so we have to just move on. I haven’t seen a lot of negativity towards the players or the coaches which is nice, so hopefully many reading this feel the same way about things. It hurts to lose but unless you’re Arsenal circa 2005 you’re going to lose a few games in a season.

I was surprised at the low turnout, if a 6-1 win on a Tuesday night doesn’t get your bum on a seat for Saturday then I don’t know what will. Maybe the start of the Premier League season contributed, maybe it was a cost thing but for some reason 500 fans chose to stay at home after watching a comprehensive dismantling just a few days earlier. There’s nowt as queer as folk, right?

The games are coming thick and fast now and in a weeks time we’ll have two more results to ponder on, and our bad afternoon at the office will be long gone. Tomorrow won’t be easy against recently relegated Dagenham, but I imagine the boys will be up for it and wanting to put things right. I can see us getting a point there, and then coming back to the Bank on Saturday to get things moving again with a win over Southport. Beware though, James Caton will score. You just know it.

There’s still reason to get carried away, there’s still reason to be optimistic. We’ll have highs and lows all season long, but like DC said our support is most important when we’re losing or trying to bounce back from defeat. These times will be the making or breaking of us this season, and I still believe we have what it takes to be top five come April.

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