After such an impressive performance against Eastleigh on Saturday, defeat away to the Leagues top performers and Champions elect, Lincoln, was always going to sting.
Although we didn’t attack or create very much, I don’t think Lincoln troubled us too much, during the game. Both their goals had elements of luck attached to them, I thought Doe kept their strike force far enough away not to have Justham diving around his goal line all game. On another day we go there, hang on a bit, then a bit of magic from one of our players takes home all the points.
It just was a game too soon for us. If we had played on the Tuesday, I think we would have been able to play a similar team to the 11 that started at the weekend. For some of our players, the game came a few hours too early which meant that key players like Gutteridge and Williams who played and had such a positive effect on the outcome against Eastleigh, were not able to play in this one. To be fair to John, he realised that these key players couldn’t be risked, which meant he didnt even have the backup to play other players in their positions. He had to set up a completely different way to the formation and structure of the side which were so good just two days earlier, The thing is although we were second best in that game and the best team won the contest, who knows what might have happened if Hawkins had not got injured. Hawks wasn’t having much joy up on his own until his injury, but who is to say that a chance may have fallen his way at 0-0 in the second half, granted it would have to have been bloody early to score before Lincoln did, but we will never know. Lincoln’s squad is in better shape than ours at the moment in terms of injuries/recoveries and it told on the night. The only thing that annoyed me a bit about it was why it took so long for us to make a change in the second half. Even at 1-0 down we were still not out of it. I felt the formation needed changing with nearer to 30 minutes remaining rather than the 20 odd minutes it was allowed. Sods law, that just after we made our first sub of the second half, we didn’t touch the ball let alone try and force an attack. During the period just after the sub took place, Lincoln got their second. We did start to threaten a bit more after that, initially but unfortunately the damage had already been done. Overall I dont think we were that poor, I have seen us play a lot worse this season, however, the defeat has well and truly punctured our promotion bubble.
I still think we have a great chance of promotion, albeit through the play-offs. Promotion is promotion, so I will take it any old way, besides there are not many better days out than watching your team play at Wembley.
I still have a lot of positivity about us doing well this year, I can see us putting a nice 5 match unbeaten run in until the end of the season. We have big players coming back that will improve us, the likes of Howell, Gutteridge, Williams and Robinson coming in will make us a lot stronger. Romain is due a goal, Whitely will no doubt continue in the form he has been in. I think we will be able to revert back to the 4-5-1 type formation we have been benefiting from with somebody behind the striker, and our other attacking midfielders supporting from wide areas. With Macclesfield at the weekend and then nearly a week until our next game on Good Friday before a shorter break to the home game on Bank holiday Monday against Sutton. Players’ match fitness will naturally be better after this time. Hawkins’ injury will be a bit of a blow, if he is out for the rest of the season, but I think Benson is capable of playing the last 5 games of the season, it may mean that a striker from our ranks will get a few cameos as a late replacement in games, maybe Bloomfield or Banwell will have a chance from the bench if Benno’s 37 year old legs are struggling. I just think we need to forget about Lincoln and Tranmere and Forest Green and just get on with taking the maximum 15 points on offer and go into the Play-offs, (if that is where we end up) as the form team. Who knows the other teams at the top might decide to internally combust, we will be sitting there with 88 points.
Up the Daggers!!