You would have to have spent the last 24 hours off your face on drugs not to know that Lincoln City beat Ipswich last night. Record crowd, another giant killing by our red and white heroes and extensive national exposure. Aside from appearing in every national paper (I can’t confirm the Scum though, I won’t ever buy it. I assume they reported on the game) we’ve even had a mention in the House of Commons today with Tory-boy McCartney asking Teresa May to congratulate us.
It would be pointless of me to try and write anymore about the achievement, when fourth round football last happened and all the other related stuff you’ve seen floating around the internet. I’ve heard there is a half decent match report here if you fancy reading it again. If not, click on it anyways eh? I’m keen for the guys at the Lincolnite to know it isn’t just me who thinks there is a gap in the market for sports coverage in Lincoln.
Anyway I wanted to go through each of our players one by one and do some analysis. It’s a formulaic blog, a list of players with me saying how great they were, but I’m sure it’s worth a read anyway.
Farms didn’t have a great amount to do last night, that was a testament to the defence and how utterly appalling the so-called Championship side were. Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed us breaking play up by using him as an outlet much more. On a couple of occasions last night he was almost sold short with an eager ball back to him, but his kicking was exemplary. He had one real save of note to make from Josh Emmanuel, a parry which we cleared immediately. He did face a drive from the former man of the moment, Tom Lawrence, but he stopped it with ease. Despite a mistake at Guiseley over the Christmas period, in the main he has been this solid all season.
Combative, aggressive, committed, hard-as-granite and a consummate professional. I think that sums Brad up, and he displayed every one of those qualities last night. I noticed a couple of really strong tackles from him on Tom Lawrence, one early in the second half which left the Leicester man prone on the turf. The referee didn’t book Brad, but you have to wonder if he managed to get inside Lawrence’s head. He won three Player of the Year trophies last season for playing exactly as he did last night. I know there’s a call for him to return to midfield and for Sean Long to fill in at full back, but for me Brad is a right back and that’s where he should stay.
Our Radio Lincolnshire commentary team often say Sam is a steady seven out of ten every match. In his last three appearances I think he’s been approaching the realms of nine out of ten. Sam is a clever player and even after ninety minutes against Gateshead he looked fit and fresh last night. I liked his link up with Terry Hawkridge, Sam often found he could roam forward as Terry dropped in nicely for him. Sam is a composed and intelligent footballer, miles ahead of Ipswich’s left sided player, Knudsen. If scouts were watching last night I’d wager Sam was one who caught their eye as being a potential Championship player.
The very basics for a centre back are an ability to head it away when it comes at you in the air or kick it away when it is on the ground. You need to be able to chase and tackle too, and our captain can do all of those things with ease. The Championship attackers couldn’t find a way past our defensive wall of two bricks, and as one half of that wall Waterfall was absolutely superb. He also offers something going forward, his effort late in the first half should (and on any other day would) have yielded an opening goal. I find it incredible that this is the centre half who was kept out of the side for a spell last season by Chris Bush and Jamie McCombe. He is perhaps the one player I’d say has improved the most under Danny and Nicky, and he if continues to play like this every week then he’ll get his hands on at least one piece of silverware this season.
The other half of our defensive wall, and he gets exactly the same plaudits as the man I’ve just written about. He does the basics but can also get forward, although last night it was Luke who offered the attacking options. Sean tends to carry the ball out, more akin to perhaps Rio Ferdinand whereas Luke is a touch more like Steve Bruce. They’re bold comparisons to make, but in the context of their contribution to Lincoln City I think they’re fair. I thought Raggett would be one to be tapped up in the January transfer window, but I’m sure any scouts wouldn’t know which of the two was the stand out performer.
Early in the first half Alex put a stray pass into the path of Tom Lawrence who (obviously) missed the chance, but I must confess to being delighted. I think Alex is the heartbeat of the side, a player who has a hand in eighty per cent of everything good that we do, and to see him make an uncharacteristic slip gave me hope that a scout might overlook him in favour of one of our other players. An awful lot of armchair scouts (potentially four million I’m told) got to see out players last night, and when one so crucial makes an error it gives hope they might be ignored. The sad thing for me was that for the remaining seventy odd minutes of the game he was excellent. With Alex you know exactly what you’re going to get, he’s like Bradley in that respect. He ghosted in well for his headed chance, and alongside Mr Power he bossed the midfield with aplomb. I get a sense that wherever Danny and Nicky go, Alex will follow (or stay) and so their new contracts hopefully signal the same for this incredibly talented and humble young man.
If I was picking a man of the match I would be tempted to select our club captain. I thought Power was beyond outstanding last night, he played as if he was shaking off the demons of the last five years of hell. I remember watching him chasing every ball in a Gary Simpson side where nine other players didn’t seem to be up for the fight, he often looked frustrated and angry. Last night his efforts were matched across the park and he thrives in those conditions. He’s had a tough journey even this season, and more than any of the players I was delighted to see the smile on his face at the end. He cleared the free kick for Marriott to break, he teed up the half volley for Hawkridge to strike at goal and he threw himself into last ditch challenges on more occasions than I care to remember. Results like last night’s start to give him the iconic status that his 200+ (and counting) outings deserve. Never write this man off.
Part two coming up later this evening