It was good to see a well organised, committed and resilient team compete to as high a standard as their talent allows and beyond, securing a well earned victory with purpose and identifiable intent at the stadium last night.
Each and every player seemed to understand their roles and responsibilities, worked hard to counter the threats intermittently faced and played with freedom and movement when the opportunities arose.
That Lincoln we’re not at least two goals to the good by the break was down to debutant Ryan Schofield in goal who made some excellent saves to prevent even more embarrassment than that which finally befell a team which spluttered with uncertainty, hesitancy and lack of direction for most of the evening. One save, in particular, stood out as Schofield turned an excellent effort by the lively Jack Payne round the post.
In what is now a feature of Huddersfield Town’s games against opposition ranging from the very top of the game to lower league strivers, there were brief flurries of intent and intensity (in this game, the 10 minutes before half time and, with desperation screaming from the effort, the final 15 minutes of the match).
The majority of the encounter, however, was dominated by a clearly well managed Lincoln City side who knew when to move the ball, when to swamp the opposition out of possession and how to keep their shape and discipline throughout. It didn’t take any insight in to tactical theory to recognise teamwork underpinned by motivated individuals taking personal responsibility to achieve a collective goal.
Those in red and white who took the deceptively long journey to Huddersfield could be mightily proud of their team, even if the margin of victory should have been greater – they fluffed a ridiculously easy chance to double a lead secured by a tidy move which unhinged Town’s back four before being sweetly finished at the back post.
Lincoln were also grateful for a particularly generous interpretation of the hand ball rule towards the end which should have seen Town’s third penalty award in a row but they deserved the break and the home side decidedly did not.
The introduction of Van La Parra, who appeared to bristle with angry intent, turned the tide and the snubbed Dutchman nearly created an equaliser twice. First, he had a good effort well saved, then he put a cross on to the head of fellow substitute Mounié. To little surprise in the disgruntled, seething crowd, he put it over the bar.
The non penalty, the save and the miss spared us all 30 more minutes of misery and Lincoln deservedly progressed in to the next round of a cup which Town seem incapable of taking even remotely seriously. David Wagner earned the right to treat cup competitions with disdain; the current incumbent had a responsibility to lift the spirits of a club in a deep spiral.
Seeking positives from this dismal scenario is difficult and probably futile, but Challobah looks to have a drive which even the least effective manager since John Haselden will struggle to subdue. That is not to say he won’t.
Another performance lacking in intensity, spontaneity and organisation brings Siewert perilously close to the exit door and the relationship, never great, with supporters is now beyond poisonous. If he lasts up to the Fulham game, it is going to take something exceptional on Friday night to save his skin.