Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Braintree Town : Victory, it's damn cold and embarrassing myself

Hello all

It's been a while since I wrote in this blog so figured I would talk about our recent trip to Braintree Town.

Lincoln's form since Simpson joined had been nothing spectacular and many fans were disgruntled about the tactics and the struggle to get anything against teams below us in the table, a problem that had seen us slip into the relegation zone recently. A weekend win against Telford seemed to merely paper over the cracks as the Imps required two late goals to avoid embarrassment against a team who hadn't won for 26 games before hand.

The Imps had a quick chance to make it two wins in a row for the first time since November with a trip to Braintree in Essex. City had beaten Alan Devonshire's men in November at Sincil Bank, although the 3-0 scoreline that night flattered the Imps, but with the other teams in the relegation battle all having tricky games, it was a good chance to move clear of the relegation zone.

I had intended to do a video for the game against Braintree, but as usual the Samsung Galaxy Note caused problems and without even really using it, I went from 100% charge to around 75% before I had even left Newark. Just for the sake of it, here was the intro I recorded.

So I set off from my house at around 1:30 and head to McDonalds for a pre-match meal (slightly different from the ones footballers have). The previous night I had one as well in a spur of the moment sort of thing....or as it's otherwise known, my housemates were getting one and I fancied one. I got my stuff and realised the Monopoly promotion they had back on, I had gotten one of the purple ones (the high value ones) but thought nothing more of it until the aforementioned pre-match McDonalds. I peeled off the latest piece and there was another purple one, Park Lane to be more precise. I was absolutely convinced that I had gotten Mayfair in the previous night's meal, so as you can tell from the above Facebook status, I got a bit excited.

I started planning what to do with the money, but I just wanted to make sure that I had it, mainly through nerves, so I got a taxi home to double check it and discovered that I had infact got.........two Park Lanes. Fuck! Oh well, life goes on.

The reason I shared that story was that it lead me to believe that this was going to be a bad day. I have little faith in the team as it is, even less so away from home, so I figure if I've already had a set back like that before the match then it's not going to go well.

Two pitch inspections later and the game was confirmed as being on and it's a relatively quick journey down to Braintree, taking around two and a half hours, not bad considering the distance. Arriving in Braintree is awkward as the ground is tucked away down an alley in the middle of a housing area. Once you're through that you get to the Amlin Stadium, sorry, I didn't mean to swear, I mean Cressing Road. I, by principle, will never refer to a ground by the sponsor's name unless I have no other choice (grounds that have never had a proper name, such as the Emirates, Ricoh, etc). Cressing Road is a small ground, there's no doubt about that whatsoever, but I actually strangely like it.

You know what it reminds me of in a sense? I was stood there for most of the game trying to figure it out and then it occured to me, it's a small version of Barnet's Underhill (before they redid the stand behind the goal.

Barnet on the left, Braintree on the right. Remarkably similar stands

Braintree on the left, Barnet on the right. Forgive the differing angles but again, very similar stands.

Barnet on the left, Braintree on the right.

  It is very strange that two football clubs that don't have the soulless bowl design can be very similar. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'd rather have games with character because once you've been to one of the soulless bowls, you've been to them all. For reference, by soulless bowls, see the stadiums of Leicester, Middlesbrough

But anyway, away from the ground design, it was EXTREMELY cold, there are only two games I can really compare it two in terms of coldness, Carlisle away in 2002/3 and Hereford away in the FA Cup in 2010/11, it was bitterly cold and you could tell why there had been severe doubts that the game would be on. I was stood at the back of their Clubhouse End in the first half and there were a crap load of ice at the back of the stand. The amount of ice around the ground even lead them to close one of the stands.

There is one thing I have always liked about Braintree, they have the friendliest fans I have ever spoken to. Last season I got into a long conversation with their club shop person and several of their fans. This year I started talking to two Braintree fans, who just happened to be the dads of two of the Braintree players, one of whom being Daniel Holman, a player who we are apparently interested in. But anyway, I got talking to these guys and even when I cheer City's goal (I was the only Lincoln fan in that stand, you can see me cheer and clap on the highlights video), no-one says anything, I don't get any funny looks, nothing.

Anyway, onto the match (although I have given away a mini-spoiler at the end of that last sentence) and City rarely get off to a worse start at Gomez Dali is sent off within 5 minutes for an off the ball incident. I wasn't looking so can't really comment on it, but Dali hasn't impressed many people in his opening matches for the Imps, and I have a heavy suspicion that we won't be seeing him in a City shirt again. Braintree create a few half chances immediately afterwards, but other than that there's not a lot between the sides.

Sheridan has a shot cleared off the line before Diagne scores with a brilliant volley. The Frenchman has failed to impress during his time at City so far, but he would go onto have what would became easily his best performance for the Imps so far. He would hit a second during the second half with a brilliant free kick just minutes after Taylor had wasted a one-on-one opportunity.

City quickly make it 3-0 as Andrew Boyce scored a rare goal with a looping header to round off a pretty one sided scoreline. It was bizarre that Braintree had a man advantage for 85 minutes and yet didn't really come close to scoring at any point during the night.

The coach wasn't exactly full of people on the way.
I counted 18 people on the 52 seater coach.
The coach journey back is a quiet affair, it's bound to be when the coach is only 1/3 full. Only 18 people had traveled via coach to the game on the 52 seater coach. It's a sign of the times when you consider that this time six/seven years ago we considered just one coach to be surreal, now any more than one is viewed in that light.

On summary I am still not convinced by Simpson's Lincoln, yes, I say that on the back of a 3-0 win, but one good performance doesn't make a team suddenly brilliant, but as long as we do enough to finish 20th or higher than I honestly couldn't give any less of a shit how we play between now and the end of the season.

So yeah, that's where this entry really ends, so until next time, peace out :)

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