Revisiting Championship Manager 01/02 – Lincoln City- January and February Review

The New Year started with a bang with the convincing Sincil Bank defeat of Southend thanks to Thorpe and two from man of the match Walker. The first month of the year turned into a brilliant one as we kept up our hunt for a playoff spot.

Victory against The Shrimpers was followed by another home win against Halifax. Thorpe and Paiva had given us a 2-1 lead before an 80th minute winner from Ben Sedgemore secured the win by a single goal in five. Three days later, we embarked on the long trip to Devon to take on Exeter City at St James Park. What followed was one of best performances of the season as we dismantled the Grecians 5-1 on their own patch. The Portuguese Poacher that is Joao Paiva bagged a hattrick and Sedge and Thorpe completed the rout.

The positive start to the year had added to my enthusiasm and was giving me the opportunity to start to dream of a serious playoff challenge, far more than I had expected at the start of the season. In an attempt to keep this positive form going, I went in for another legend of this game Mike Duff. The only issue with that, a minor one, is the fact I have absolutely zero in the transfer kitty and Colchester value their asset at a minimum of £55,000. This dream signing will have to wait.

Four days after Exeter, Kidderminster Harriers travelled to Sincil Bank and were put to the sword in front of less than 4,000 people. Perhaps the chill in the January air kept the Imps away but those that were in attendance were treated to a Justin Walker masterclass, with the midfielder bagging a brace in a 2-0 win. Our final match of January saw Brian Talbot bring his incredibly rich Rushden and Diamonds to Lincolnshire only to be on the end of another Paiva hattrick in a 3-0 mauling!

What a month January was! Five straight wins, 16 goals and only 3 conceded have propelled us to fourth in the league and only three points behind the automatic spots. Joao Paiva had 14 goals in just 20 games, we agreed the free transfer of former Spurs striker Rory Allen for the summer and, I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet, I was awarded Manager of the Month! On fire!

February

I bounced into February with the sort of enthusiasm that unnerved the Mrs on the back of the unbeaten month and 15 points from 15. That bounce was quickly flattened thanks to Swansea who bit a flat City 3-1 at The Vetch Field. Once again we couldn’t manage to het a result with our talismanic midfield man Walker who would be missing for the entirety of February, a dismal month full of the manager of the Month award curse!

Our only victory of the month came at home to Carlisle. That man Lee Thorpe was back amongst the goals, firing two in the 4-2 win. Thorpe continued to be a bright spot of the season and his partnership with Paiva was really delivering.

Oxford United away saw us build on the Carlisle win with another point in 0-0 draw, a game in which loan signing Shaun Derry continued his excellent form in red and white. The month St Valentine finished with no love for us in our playoff quest as a Martin Cameron inspired Bristol Rovers hammered us 3-1 at The Bank. To make matters worse, Paul Smith suffered an injury that would rule him out for four months.

The final game of the month saw us 1-0 down at Hartlepool after an hour, the post Manager of the Month award blues truly settled in. As the manager, I was confident that I could turn this around with some changes but we would eventually succumb to a 2-0 loss. My concerns of not reaching the playoffs are back, the league is tight and a poor run of games is proving to be hugely costly. One thing for sure is that any hopes I harboured for automatic promotion had gone.

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