Before we get into this week’s game day blog (and basically because plenty of people have asked me about it) i thought i would share my views about the big football stories in my life over the past week or so. You really are lucky buggers aren’t you?
On Tuesday night Lincoln routed Bradford City away by five goals to nil in the second round of the League Cup and therefore setting up a match with Liverpool at home in the third round. Now in ordinary times 1) We would have gone to Bradford and 2) we would have been buzzing about the prospect of playing the side that won the Premiership last season. Obviously these aren’t normal times and thus the game will be played behind closed doors and in the process killing much of the excitement from my point of view. It will of course be a great occasion for the Imps to host Liverpool and the news that the game will be live on Sky Sports has defiantly added a little charm to the occasion not to mention the chance to head to the pub for a few beers and shots of sambuca thrown in for good measure.
As for the chances of Lincoln getting a result? Well let’s be honest, even with the Imps great start to the season (five wins from five in all competitions) it’s hard to see a Lincoln win. It’s not impossible, but it’s very, very unlikely. Given that Liverpool play Chelsea this weekend and Felice’s Arsenal next weekend i would doubt we will see Liverpool’s first choice starting eleven in action. But even a 3rd string Liverpool side would be packed with quality, to get onto the books at whatever level at any Premiership club you have to be hugely talented let alone the Champions of England and one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The only thing that gives me hope is that last season Liverpool played at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup and drew. (Before winning the reply at Anfield) With no relays and extra time in the League Cup should the game be a draw at 90 minutes then the game goes straight to penalties. And as we all know penalties is a total lottery, I mean it’s still very unlikely and up there with the chances of me going on a date next weekend but it could happen in theory...
|Me at Anfield in 2011. A couple of stone lighter and with hair|
Meanwhile it was another a fun week in the Europa League. The Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar bowed out of the competition losing 0-5 at home to Glasgow Rangers. For much of the game Lincoln performed well only running out of steam in the last 15 minutes or so. I obtained a programme from the game to add to my random collection and i must say it was a fine issue that befitted the match. Elsewhere there was good news for Felice as he had a few teams playing and winning in it. Wins for AC Milan, Spurs, Wolfsburg, Aberdeen and Standard Liege among others put a smile on his face.
So onto this weekend’s game originally we had intended watch Retford United away at Clay Cross to tick off another new ground. However it was announced late on Friday night that the game was called off due to “Unforeseen circumstances” Baz had written this in our Whats App group chat but due to my large intake of alcohol Friday i didn’t read this message till a late night toilet visit in the early hours of Saturday morning.
As with most cat owners i was up early on Saturday morning and gave Felice a ring to sort out an alternative game to take it. After a quick look i suggested ticking off Mansfield Hosiery Mills FC who were at home to Mickleover FC Reserves.
The White Lion again was the first stop of the day for myself along with a couple of very good friends whose company has been a huge help to my mental health this weekend, and this time the medium full English was consumed. This consists of two eggs, two hash browns, two sausages, two bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast all for the price of £5.50. They do a larger one to which consists of three of every item for the fat bastards among us for only a quid more. They open at 10 AM in the morning and the fact that we were stood outside waiting for the pub to open tells you all you need to know about us..
Now i have to be honest and admit i kind of messed up picking this game. I am always one for saying a little research goes a long way and i really should have done some in this instance. Our aim this season is to tick off new grounds while the Imps crowds are restricted. I knew we had never been to a Mansfield Hosiery home game so immediately suggested them. As we set off on our merry way it dawned on us that the club play at Sutton Towns old ground which we had both visited in the past (in my case about 12 years ago) at least this proved than even the very best of us make mistakes. We have now decided to draw up a “Hit list” of new grounds so if we need to find a new ground at short notice we will not be flapping about to think of one.
We made it through Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield (AKA the land of a thousand traffic lights) in good time and pulled up in the car part with the best part of an hour to kill. There is a large clubhouse at the ground divided into two parts. After signing in for the track and trace we were directed into function room half of the building. It was all very well organised and seems to work very well. After a well deserved pint we headed into the ground.
Outside the ground there are plenty of Mansfield Hosiery signs and areas painted with the club colours of blue and white but you can still see signs that Sutton Town once played here. The entrance was the standard step 7 £3 with more track and trace antics on the gate. The ground looks pretty much the same as the last time i visited apart from the odd splash of paint here and there. The first thing walking around the ground is how it slops from one end of the ground to the other. The pitch was looked very good and all in all it looked like a decent set up.
Both of these sides had won their previous game but early on it became clear who was going to win this game. When you watch reserve teams you normally see one of two things. Either they are full of players annoyed that they aren’t in the first team and players who think the reserves are beneath them. Or they are full of young hungry players who are finding their way in the game and being primed to play at a higher level. This Mickleover side most defiantly fell into the second category. They looked to play out from the back wherever possible and stuck to their philosophy at all times. They were ahead after only a couple of minutes’ due to a well worked goal. They did have the advantage of kicking down the slope but some of their football was a joy to watch. Their coach was very supportive of his side not getting on the officials backs and encouraging his side even when moves broke down or mistakes were made.
After about 6 minutes the game was effectively over due to the most controversial moment of the game. Mickleover sent in a deep cross in to the Mansfield box and with no attacking players near the keeper he took what looked like a standard catch. The linesman however adjudged that the keeper had taken the ball over the line and thus gave a goal. We were stood right down the other end of the ground so we had no way of knowing if it was over the line or not. The home players protested strongly which gave me the impression that it didn’t go over but i am not the ref. I think the only person that will really know is the home team goalkeeper
The rest of the first half followed a similar pattern, attack versus defense. Although the home side didn’t see much of the ball they worked very hard to keep their shape and never gave up. The visitors added a third but thanks to some good goal keeping and poor finishing the halftime score finished up 3-0 in favor of Mickleover.
Halftime signaled a retreat back to the bar for another pint/ half a coke depending if you were driving or now. The Imps were leading at halftime so all was well with the world.
The second half was more of a contest. Maybe it was because Mansfield were kicking down the slope or maybe it was because Mickleover had the game wrapped up. The visitors added a fourth when a long range effort left the keeper flat footed with Mansfield getting on the score sheet midway through the second half thanks to a well taken penalty. The real star of the show was the number 7 for Mickleover nicked named “Scholsey” due to his resemblance to Paul Scholes who ran the game in the centre of the park.
All in all another good day. We may not have seen the game we had planned or a new ground but we visited a ground we haven’t been to in a decade, found a good club house, saw a really good footballing side and the Imps have a 100% record in all competitions this season.
As the saying goes.. We go again!
Other scores of note.
MK Dons 1-2 Lincoln City
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
Dynamo Berlin 6-2 Bischofswerdaer