- First of all I would look to place on record, my sincere congratulations to all those associated with the running of Lincoln City Football Club because you really do know how a football club should be run and are now reaping the rewards! Excellent marketing of the club and a management team who really engage with their local community, coordinated fan zones, stuff for the kids and sensible stewarding, all provide examples of a football club that truly values those who attend Sincil Bank within a philosophy of a genuine fan / person centred approach. I genuinely hope that Lincoln go up this season as champions because they truly deserve it.
- There is a real connection between our respective clubs that is so clearly related to Keith Alexander and Richard Butcher, and the clear outpouring of mutual love and respect for these guys was so evident prior to the game which must surely be a great source of comfort for their wonderful families. What was also so lovely is that a number of Imps fans approached me to say that they genuinely wanted us to stay up and although they (understandably) wanted their team to win they would not be heartbroken at all with us having a share of the points.
- I watched in awe prior to the game as over nine and a half thousand people (including one hundred and seventy Silkmen diehards) crammed into Sincil Bank to watch a game in the fourth tier of English football, and jealously craved for a regular crowd at the Moss Rose of even a quarter of that amount! As always when we go away, the support for the Silkmen faithful was incessant and vocal, but you could only be impressed with the volume and intensity of home support which was by far the best that I have seen this season and I have been to every away game!
- Now to the game. As expected the Imps of Lincoln came at us from the off, and it took a brilliant save from Silkmen stopper Kieran O’Hara to preserve parity when he produced a ‘worldie’ of a save to deny ex-Barnet forward John Akinde when he appeared odds on to give the Imps a lead. The Silkmen were clearly not overawed by the occasion, and fans favourite David Fitzpatrick grazed the crossbar with an excellent effort and another fans favourite Elliott Durrell then tested the Imps but was blocked by Tuffolo who was later to incur the wrath of the Silkmen faithful when tangling with the always impressive Nathan Cameron right in front of us.
- A mistake by Bruno Andrade saw Elliott (Durrell) provide an inch perfect pass for Silkmen top scorer Scott Wilson to provide an exquisite finish in reaching double figures for the season and also sending the Silkmen faithful into raptures in the 28th minute of the game. The Imps were soon to be level (and deservedly so) when ex-Wales International Neal Eardley’s sublime free-kick restored parity in the 38th minute. Half-time came and the Silkmen were still well in the game!
- The second half became more of a scrappy affair which of course suited the struggling Silkmen as opposed to the high flying Imps whose fans clearly wanted to see them inch even closer to what is now surely a nailed on automatic promotion to the third tier of English football. The frustration became more evident through increased numbers of sighs and groans when passes became misplaced or when attacks broke down. This was not lost on the Silkmen following whose voices could certainly be more clearly heard than in the cauldron of noise that had emanated around Sincil Bank in the first half!
- The last quarter of the game saw the Silkmen create arguably the best two chances of that period when the industrious Scott Wilson was denied by the excellent Eardley after superb work from fans favourite David Fitzpatrick to create the opportunity for Scott. The outstanding James Pearson who was yours truly’s Man of the Match (closely followed by Silkmen stopper Kieran O’Hara) then almost stole the points for the Silkmen in the 83rd minute when he unleashed a thunderous volley that appeared destined for the top corner before Lincoln goalkeeper Gilks produced an amazing save to preserve parity for the Imps.
- The introduction of Matt Rhead for the Imps whose interest in salads was understandably questioned by the Silkmen faithful during his warm up and subsequent cameo appearance on the pitch, produced an altogether more direct approach from the Imps in the dying embers of the game. However the Silkmen held on to claim an invaluable and altogether completely unexpected point which could well be vital in our crucial last few games.
- The Silkmen faithful celebrated joyously at the final whistle, and this was not lost on the Silkmen players who came over as one to celebrate with us, and even Sol Campbell managed a thumbs up from about thirty yards away before making his way to the changing rooms and inevitable questions from the assembled press. Despite the fantastic result against the likely champions, the Silkmen dropped to bottom, as an impressive 3-0 away victory against Stevenage (that ended any chance of play-offs for them) from relegation rivals Notts County provided scant rewards for their impressive efforts.
- The Silkmen now have two crucial home games at the Moss Rose against the Shrimps of Morecambe followed by our game in hand against the Grecians of Exeter. If I am to be totally honest nothing more than six points will suffice if we are to have a truly realistic chance of maintaining our presence in the elite 92 clubs in English football. This is OUR TOWN & OUR CLUB and for the next seven games our focus should be solely on getting behind the lads to do all we can to preserve our English Football League (EFL) status. There really is no choice, and only after the final whistle following the Cambridge game on Saturday 4th May 2019, can we reflect on the rights and wrongs of a season that has been enigmatic to say the very least.The inquest should justifiably come after the season’s end, and of course I am Silkmen till I die!
Featured Image courtesy of Chelsie Wilson.