City managed to make it eight games unbeaten after coming from behind twice to register a superb 5-2 win against Chester. It caps off a fine week after beating Boreham Wood on Tuesday, having now scored seven past two teams with reputed good defences.
Typically Danny Cowley was careful to manage the expectations that this excellent run might be generating. Speaking to Michael Hortin on BBC Radio Lincolnshire he said:
“We’ll enjoy it tonight, but it’s only three points. The boys can enjoy it until six o’clock and then we focus on Altrincham. The fans can enjoy it until seven!”
Of course the 413 travelling fans will enjoy it way beyond seven this evening, and with the focus switching to the FA Cup we can rest comfortable knowing we’ll be in second place for the next two weeks. The first half didn’t go as perhaps we have come to expect from City. A series of niggly fouls culminated in Chester getting a penalty after we’d only just got back into the game. However an equaliser in injury time from Sean Raggett meant a clean slate from Danny’s perspective.
“To get back into like we did we felt second half we could go and play with freedom.”
The Imps certainly did play with freedom in the second half, Matt Rhead grabbing a third straight after the restart with a cool finish. Chester switched to a more direct 4-4-2 but two goals late on from Jack Muldoon and Harry Anderson ensured we grabbed seven points from the last three games. The fact we came from behind was not lost on the gaffer.
“Good teams have got to win games in all different ways, and good teams have to win games when they go behind.”
The man of the match this afternoon was Matt Rhead, bagging a brace and setting up the other goals. He left to a standing ovation and rightly so. Rheady takes a lot of stick from opposition fans and often gets overlooked by referees when he’s being battered about, but both Tuesday night and this afternoon he’s shown he’s so much more than a big lump up front.
The Imps could have easily lost the match though, Paul Farman pulled off a couple of great saves and on an afternoon when the attacking play will get all the plaudits it’s important to remember his contribution. Farms has developed into one of the finest keepers at this level and his saves today at crucial times gave the outfield players a platform to build on.
There were strong performances all over the pitch, Harry Anderson was superb once again. It seems bizarre that Peterborough didn’t mind him being cup-tied, but the presence of Barry Fry at Sincil Bank on Tuesday night shows he isn’t being forgotten by Posh. If we could secure him for the duration of the season it would be a massive bonus.
Nathan Arnold put in another strong performance as well, despite not getting on the score sheet. He was full of praise for Matt Rhead in his Radio Lincolnshire interview.
“We’re really happy to score five away from home, but we know there’s work to do. Matt Rhead’s performance today was really good, he’s such an asset for us. We don’t over-use him but we use him in the right way. We love Matt, he’s like the big bear in the dressing room! He’s got a lovely touch, he’s not just a big target man.”
The frightening thing for the rest of the National League is that as games go on, City look fitter than their opponents. As the season goes on Danny promises that the side will only get better, and Arnold paid tribute to that as well.
“Every game we go into we look stronger, we look fitter and we look better. That’s testament to Danny and Nick. We’re in a good place at the minute.”
We certainly are in a good place. The buzz around the club is unlike anything seen for ten years. The players look more committed than any squad since Keith Alexander was here, and at times the football is (dare I say it) as good as I’ve seen in thirty years of following the Imps.
On the radio Steve Thompson said now is the time to go out and sign a couple of players, but I have to disagree. I think we’re one player away from a really good squad, and that is a centre forward. Theo Robinson will be hoping for something to develop in January, which is why he’s so desperate for his name to appear on the score sheet at the moment. Aside from a number ten I think this is the most complete squad we’ve seen at Sincil Bank for a decade. Losing Beevers is a blow and perhaps the only real negative to take away from an otherwise wonderful week to be an Imp.
Long may it continue.