Darlington 3-1 Imps – Gone in 30 Seconds

Darlington: like attending a game on the set of 28 Days Later

There are few places that sum up what’s wrong with English football better than Darlington’s Darlington Arena, so perhaps there was no better venue to be reminded of what’s wrong with Lincoln City. In front of just under 23,000 empty seats the Imps slumped to their third defeat of the young season.

The tone for the game was set within the first 30 seconds when Ryan Bowman waltzed through the City defence to give the hosts the lead. City spent the next ten minutes in total disarray, Josh Gowling diverting a shot over the bar at one point and Danny Hone and Tony Sinclair having to resort to fouls to prevent the Quakers adding more early on. The hole in the centre of midfield that’s troubled us all season remained, and the defence looked at times like they’d never played football before.

But the ship was steadied and perhaps by the end of the half the Imps had managed to get back into the game, threatening on a couple of occasions before the break.

The game was lost within the first ten minutes of the second half though, first when Bowman was again set free against the defence to make it 2-0. Minutes later Darlington added a third after a misunderstanding between debutant Jean Christophe and Joe Anyon saw Bowman (again) sneak in and square the ball to his strike partner for a third. Only the most biased Imp could say the lead was undeserved.

Then something frustrating happened. With about 20 minutes of the game to go, Lincoln actually showed up, knocked the ball about, had a few chances. Gavin McCallum remembered the one area of his game, his ability to run really fast. Josh Gowling suddenly remembered what football is and how to defend. Alan Power smashed in a spectacular shot to make it 3-1 and then, just as we began to hope that we could do something…the game petered out.

The entertainment in the last ten minutes or so was provided by a fat bloke in the Lincoln end removing his shirt and waving it round his head while fans of both clubs chanted “chuck him out”. Edifying for all concerned. On to Braintree then. How depressing does that sound?

Overheard: “We scored the best goal, you’d think we’d get something for that.” We did, and we should.

Question of the day: Were these really the same guys who played so well on Friday? Really?

Other question of the day: If Lincoln played in a stadium like this, vastly bigger than we’d ever need, would you find it too depressing to go to games?

Man of the Match: Ryan Bowman, would take him at Lincoln in a second. Great off the ball movement. Great on the ball movement, too.

Game in a sentence: If Lincoln lose in an empty stadium, do they make a sound?

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