The cruellest of cruel defeats. Even in a dead rubber of a match that would’ve hurt, but given the stakes that was galling. After weathering a bit of an early storm, Torquay grew into the first half, and nullified Lincoln’s threat while creating half chances here and there. A brilliant save by Farman from a near post flick and a decent Brendan Moore save kept it 0-0 at half time.
The second half was tense but for a team at the top of the league, Lincoln posed little threat. We created one golden chance and took it – Reid nicking the ball, crossing it to the back post and that man Keating either heading it or stabbing it into the net off the keeper. It was hard to see exactly what happened from over 100 yards away but we all saw the net ripple. To go ahead with 12 minutes to play was an absolute dream. We looked solid enough and just had to keep our heads.
Then Lincoln equalise out of the blue. A scrappy shot is parried straight back out by Moore to the onrushing Anderson and its all square. From there only one team would win it. Young concedes a silly free kick, and Habergham flashes in past Moore with what was a great strike in all fairness.
I’ve seen some things in my 17 years of being a Gulls fan, but that was one of the lowest moments. From sheer ecstasy to exasperation to complete despair in a matter of minutes.
Gallifuoco 8 Anderson 8 McGinty 8 Rowe-Turner 7
Lee 6 Verma 6 Young 7 Reid 8
Subs: Harrad 6 Gerring 6 Williams 6
Man of the Match:
Damon Lathrope. I’ve always been a big fan of Damon’s, and think he was pivotal under Martin Ling and has become so again. If you know your football from a playing perspective, the role Lathope fills is crucial. He tightens the whole back four up from the shielding position in front, and relieves immense amounts of pressure. Today he did exactly that. Lincoln couldn’t get anyone around the infamous Matt Rhead, as Lathrope snuffed out any danger. His going off was sadly a turning point; after that the floodgates opened. He looked pretty bruised up around the knee. We need him for our last three games, if we have any chance of getting out of this terrible predicament.
88th minute: Strangely the same minute as in my last report V Solihull Moors, but the contrast couldn’t be greater. Lincoln break and Young commits a daft foul on the edge of the area. Habergham whips it past Moore, who looked a little flat-footed in the moment, and Sincil Bank erupts. Even with the other results today, a point would’ve been something. To come away empty handed from a game we arguably had the better of (bar five mad minutes) is a horrible feeling. The lads fought from the first kick to the last, but the mental toll of losing in this fashion could hurt us. We have to recover physically and mentally for Monday vs Braintree.
I think what Lincoln have done this year has been great for the Vanarama league, and in Danny Cowley they undoubtedly have the best in the business at this level. He is crucial l to their success, as I don’t think technically they’re a brilliant side. Today they looked sluggish and lacking in ideas for much of the match. It sounds odd as we’ve lost but we were pretty comfortable for so much of the game; Lincoln didn’t seem able to penetrate us or overly worry Moore. But teams at the top tend to find a way, and mentally I believe Cowley has drilled such a positive, never-say-die mentality into the Imps that they are incredibly difficult to beat.
Giancarlo Gallifuoco: I think this lad is a very solid professional and has coped with quite a lot in his first year of week-in-week-out blood-and-thunder English football. Playing at right back, he looked more assured than I’ve seen him before, and seemed to thrive in the big match situation. He whistled a shot inches past the Lincoln post in the first half, and put his body on the line when necessary. Keating should also get a mention for taking his one real chance – the sign of a good striker if ever there was one.
Away Fans Perspective:
This is the third time I’ve been to Sincil Bank in three years, and it’s always a decent trip. Given the situation they are in it was understandably absolutely rammed, and fair play to the team for giving the fans and the city something to shout about. The Yellow Army were crammed into one corner of the ground, but the view was ok and the atmosphere was great. Lincoln is a proper club with a proper stadium and have very friendly and welcoming fans in the main. Despite what they’ve done to us today, I do wish them the best.
An absolutely heart-breaking end to the match. At time of writing we’re 4 points adrift with only 9 to play for. The lads gave everything today and you couldn’t really point the finger at any of them. If it hadn’t been Lincoln we’d have held on, but such is life. Will we stay up? I don’t know. I’m a massive optimist, and I believe in this bunch of lads. They’re showing fight and grit, but we need a lot of luck and for everything to go our way from here on in. All I can say is everyone who goes on Monday must give everything to their support. If we do beat Braintree the table could look quite different and we still have half a chance of the great escape no. 2. If we don’t win on Monday though, I do think that’s it.