Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley described Saturday’s season-opening 1-0 victory over Northampton as a ‘reality check’ for his team and confessed they needed their fair share of luck to claim all three points.
A combination of erratic finish by Town and some excellent goalkeeping from Josh Vickers somehow meant the Imps kept a clean sheet and with Matt Green heading home the only goal of the game early in the second-half, it was enough for a victorious start to the campaign.
We take the positive that we’ve won the game and we’ve kept a clean sheet, and also the fact that not many other teams will come here and come away with success, but I do think it’s a reality check.
Cowley was honest in his post-match assessment and admitted there’s work to be done if Lincoln are to launch another promotion challenge having missed out in the play-offs last term.
“We rode our luck today and we managed to get on the right side of a close game – Josh Vickers was magnificent in goal for us,” said the Imps boss.
“We’ve got to be realistic because we’ve come from the National League and they’ve come from League One. If you look at their squad and the personnel, any team which gets relegated and retains their players will be strong.
“The likes of Kevin van Veen hasn’t even got on the pitch so they’ve got a lot of really good players and they’ll be right up there.
“We take the positive that we’ve won and we’ve kept a clean sheet, and also the fact that not many other teams will come here and come away with success, but I do think it’s a reality check.
“It’s not a reality check for us in the dressing room because we’re pretty calm and clear of where we’re at but maybe for some others.
“I never want to dampen the enthusiasm because I love enthusiasm but I don’t want people to over-expect. When you do that, it tends to end up in disappointment and none of us want that.”
The visitors were particularly indebted to Vickers in the opening half-hour when he denied Daniel Powell twice and Sam Hoskins once while John-Joe O’Toole also threatened before Andy Williams missed two gilt-edged chances late on.
“We weren’t disjointed in terms of shape, it was just nerves,” added Cowley. “We made some errors and of you look at the chances they had in the first-half, all of them came from our errors and that was uncharacteristic but sometimes it happens on the opening day.
“I thought that unsettled us. We then tweaked it a little and got control of the game. We started to play for the end when we got the goal instead of playing in the moment, but we defended really well.
“They ran out of ideas at around 80 minutes and all we needed to do was see the game out but then we got mentally tired and fatigued and lost concentration, which gave them a couple of chances.
“The one at the end was just horrific from us but the positive is that it’s really easily eradicated and we’re pleased with the outcome, albeit not with the processes.
“We showed real resilience, determination and grit in parts and it was probably those qualities that allowed us to get over the line.”