It was always going to be a tall order of course such was Rotherham United’s superiority over Lincoln City over many, many games but the manner of Friday nights capitulation to the Millers, to be humiliated on our own patch and to have to listen to the jibes of their jubilant fans is very hard to take. Before we are accused of sour grapes let it be said here and now that Rotherham United were superior in every department and fully deserved the enormity of their win.
The people of our neighbouring county are of course well known for extolling the many virtues of Yorkshire, usually from a safe distance from it. We, in Lincolnshire smile indulgently and let it go, we have our rolling Wolds, our beaches and our market towns, our pleasant relaxed way of life and of course our beautiful city, our diversity. Our county is the North, appropriately, in the North, Southerly in the south (well almost) and Midland in the West. We are proud of our football team, well we were. Lincoln City’s struggle over the years somehow encapsulates the way we live, our isolation, we are unfashionable, forgotten even, yet those that come to visit often come away entranced by our Lincolnshire homeland.
On Friday night we played one of our nearest neighbours and our team gave the supporters of the Millers the opportunity to denigrate us, as had Chesterfield before them, another garden spot if ever there was one, in the most dismissive terms. Those of us that write about the Imps are committed fans, we buy our season tickets, and we try to find something good to say even when in reality there is little good that can be said but that “performance” made even the most diehard fan question his or her sanity. Once fans are gone it will be a long time, if at all, before they are back.
A defeat by six clear goals equals Lincoln City’s worst home performance. It could have been even more catastrophic and all connected with the club must shoulder their share of the blame. City went into this game with a boy in goal; the alternative was a goalkeeping coach. Let’s hope the experience hasn’t scarred him for life. Whose bright idea was it to drop Danny Hone, who had forged a good partnership with Adam Watts in the centre of defence? Who thought it would be beneficial to leave out a player in Jamie Clapham, a vastly experienced player when we knew we would be playing not only a very good team but one galvanised by losing their manager and on the end of a five-nil thumping themselves and replacing him with a player that has barely figured under this manager?
This column would prefer to only single out players for praise rather than criticism but in Patrick Kanyuka we have to make an exception. He put in a performance so abject that his most telling contribution was to get himself sent off in the most unprofessional manner possible. City, down to ten men at this point, improved considerably after the inclusion of Hone.
We now find ourselves looking over our shoulders again. March was always going to be tough but City have failed to garner the points needed to ensure survival in winnable games. They must now seek to gain them in some unpromising looking fixtures. Those two Aunt Sally’s Barnet and Stockport gained points, Stockport even won. Have we now reached a point when despite all the good and hard work to get in a decent position we are reliant on other teams failing to gain the necessary points rather than us rescuing ourselves? It rather looks as if we might.