Cod Almighty | Article
6 August 2007
Why don't they play in green? Well, they did at Blundell Park. Those eternal bridesmaids of the play-offs Lincoln City, the team from down the road. That was, of course, the final home game of the season and although not mathematically sure, the Imps had all but secured their annual place in the top seven, as predicted in last season's rough guide.
Different manager, different playing style: the only thing the same as previous seasons was the chilling reality that they would start the following campaign in the same division as they finished the last one. Lincoln's start to last season was nothing short of brilliant, and by the end of October they topped the division, having won 11 games and lost just three. It looked for all the world like they would not need that elusive play-off victory to get out of the division. November and December saw the Imps maintain a top three slot and included their usual humiliation of Town at Sincil Bank. From that point on their season collapsed like an England cricket team. City won only one of their last eight games and the final half of the season was almost a mirrored opposite of the first.
Ins and outs
City may find next season a bit tougher. The losses of Paul Mayo and Jeff Hughes, along with Martin Gritton, Simon Rayner and implausible Mariners target Paul Morgan, may not seem too bad but manager John Schofield has as yet failed to lure in replacements for any of them – except Gary Croft, who couldn't hold down a place at Blundell Park last season, and Steve Torpey, who is about 97. It doesn't bode well and an impressive start to the season to match last year's is not on the cards.
Lincoln do have some good players; among these are the promising Lee Frecklington and Scott Kerr (the target of an alleged illegal approach by a man who should manage Lincoln one day: play-off failure Russell Slade). Jamie Forrester will be hoping he can score goals all season and not just half of it. By Christmas last year he had 14 league goals; by the end of the season he had made it to 18. Mark Stallard will just be hoping that his backside isn't wider than the goal.
The lack of transfer movement, coupled with poor end-of-season form and regular play-off failure, has left at least one fan slightly dispirited on the BBC messageboard:
"i'm a lincoln fan.....what squad?? we may have enough to field a squad but not a good one. we really needed signings of quality but surprise surprise we don't. there's a while left, so i remain hopeful. even if the board claims we have no money, it shouldn't stop loaning in players."
And it's getting to the remaining members of the squad too.
Reliance on loan players and late signings, as we know only too well, is a recipe for a poor season but Lincoln fans will at least be spared the annual play-off charade, unless 14th place gets you a wild card entry.