The dynamic has changed as this season has progressed, for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, Lincoln have become the team to beat in League Two. They have largely been top of the table from the third game; there is a misconception that they have spent megabucks buying success; their manager is high-profile; and every other team will want to show they are just as good as the league leaders, even those who are not even close to being. Therefore they raise their game and play out of their skins – we have done it in the past when playing the better sides. As the season continues to unfold, this will become even more noticeable; get used to it.
Secondly, every team will want to come to Lincoln and win. Beating the league leaders on their own ground in front of 9,000 is a feather in their cap, and they will bust a gut to do it.
As a result, it is now very hard to judge how good we are compared with those other teams because we are not seeing them as they really are. Were Newport as impressive when losing 4-1 at home to FGR on Boxing Day (or when drawing 0-0 at home to Crawley yesterday) as they were at Sincil Bank a week ago? Of course not. I am sure many Lincoln fans came away from yesterday’s game wondering how Cambridge are third from bottom, but they were not seeing Cambridge as they really are.
If we also include the increasing sense of desperation felt by sides struggling against relegation, the fight level when playing against Lincoln can only increase. That is why a promotion-winning team that has been at the top all season has done so well.
As Barney points out, Lincoln continue to win games despite these extra factors against them. In that never-to-be-forgotten 2016-17 season, Lincoln had 52 points after 24 games; they have 50 this time around, which represents a fantastic achievement at a higher level just two seasons later. I think that is wonderful.
For some reason, there is a section of the current support eager to be more critical of the side than congratulatory, and I have no understanding of that. Presumably, they expect nothing less than a devastating 4-0 win every week, which is simply crackers. Even Graham Taylor’s team had to grind out results at times, as did Danny’s team in 2016-17. Anyone remember how hard-fought those seven successive wins were in April? I would love to know the identity of the brain donor who allegedly sent that eight-page letter to Danny pointing out where he is going wrong; I wonder what that person was doing on Saturday afternoons prior to the Ipswich game?
We are living a dream at the moment; if anyone fails to recognise that, they are denying themselves some very special memories.
Writer: Scotimp (Posted on Sunday 30th December on the Cambridge United v Lincoln City Match Thread)
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City Football Club for the photograph!
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) December 31, 2018