Sunday, 31 October 2010

Carlton Town 7-2 Shepshed Dynamo

Today's trip nearly didn't happen due to my being a tad worse for wear after the night before. Thankfully i stuck to my plan to go to Cartlon and saw a decent enough game and saw my first ever 7-2 scoreline. I have had Carlton on my list of grounds to do for a while now and being the weekend after payday i thought if i didn't get it done this weekend i would never get it done.
Carlton is on the outskirts of Nottingham and as everybody knows Nottingham is the drinking and sporting capital of the East Midlands and always a good day out for a few beers. Nottinghamshire county cricket club have won the County championship last summer, The Mighty Nottingham Panthers ice hockey club won the challenge cup last season (and smashed Sheffield all over the ice 5-2 on Friday night in Sheffield). Shame i went to the first game in Notts on Wednesday night when Sheffield fluked a 3-1 win.
For me the best pub in Notts near the station is the Canal house bar which serves a great range of beers from all over the world. I can thoroughly recommend the Brooklyn Lager. Outside is probably the best sign outside a pub i have ever seen. And one i agree with 100%

The plan was simple enoug; train to Nottingham, then train to Carlton. Bus back from Carlton then train home and i must say everything went pretty much to plan. Nottingham city centre was full of Southampton fans ahead of their match at Notts County. There were actually a few County fans on the train to Notts all excited about welcoming yet another new manager to the club. Notts must be the only club with a higher turnover in managers than Lincoln in the past 3 seasons. How long will Paul Ince last? The man whose ambition it is to manage Inter Milan.

Carltons ground is about a 15 minute walk from the train station. There aren't any pubs around the ground so you are limited to the clubhouse that is inside the ground. It was 7 quid on the gate and £1.50 for the programme. Nottingham Forest ladies also play their home games there. As it was only about 2pm i headed straight to the bar and sunk a few pints while watching Soccer Saturday. Surprisingly enough the point of discussion was the Merseyside Red Sox crappy form and how much time should Roy be given to sort the mess out. Quite how anybody can get rid of one of Europe's most experienced and respected coaches after 10 or so league games is beyond me. He totally rescued Inter in the mid 90's; taking us from bottom of the league to the UFEA cup final in a season. Maybe the Liverpool board want him out so they can bring Chris Sutton in, such was the fantastic job he did at Lincoln? After about 5 minutes i had had enough of Phil Thompsons whining and grabbed a copy of Balls Mania, Nottinghamshires top sports paper to read. They seem to have stopped the babe of the week article, bad times. The beer was £2.80 per pint and was average at best. Not a patch on the stuff you can get in the city centre.

There were a decent number of Shepshed fans in the bar, in fact there didn't seem to be any home fans about. The ground can be descibed as basic. The only cover in the ground is a small seating area behind one of the goals. The bar, food hut and club shop are all on the side that you enter the ground. There is hard standing all the way round and that's about it. I must say i was a tad disappointed with it but when you look in the programme and see how quickly they have shot up the leagues in recent years you can understand why this ground suffers a bit in comparison to others in this division i have been to; Lincoln Utd, Brigg Town, Goole town etc etc. Carlton seem to be a club on the up though. Its just a shame they can't get many through the gate. (93 was the attendance given out and a good 20 or so of them were away fans.)

Carlton impressed me a month or so ago when i saw them beat Grantham Town 2-0 and they looked very good again here today. Shepshed got off to a dreadful start conceding their first goal after 4 minutes (which is still 3 mins and 14 seconds longer than Lincoln held out at Wycombe) When Carlton sprung the visitors offside trap. Goal number two came two minutes later and the third arrived on 11 minutes from a great header. We had to wait till the 28th minute for the fourth goal which came from the penalty spot. I didn't see what the penalty was given for as i was busy getting a portion of chips and mushy peas topped with mint sauce. They were first rate and well worth missing the offence. I did see the Penalty being converted making it 4-0.

Shepshed did get one back a 7 minutes later from the penalty spot again but any chance of a comeback was short lived as Carlton added two further goals on 35 and 39 to go in 6-1 up at half time. It was one of those games where everything Carlton hit went in.

Half time was my cue to head for the bar. Lincoln were trailing 2-1 away at high flying Wycombe, could we do what we have failed to do all season, score two goals in a match away from home or even get an away draw?
In the second half some Shepshed fans decided enough was enough and started their own game of football on one of the 5 a side pitches behind the stadium. A few others stayed in the bar. I must admit with the game as good as dead i spent about half of the second half in the bar watching the scores coming in, hoping for a second Imps goal. Carlton made it 7-1 on 69 although i didn't see it so i can't comment. With 15 minutes left i watched the rest of the game from outside instead of through the bar window and saw Shepshed get their second goal. This was met with great cheers from the traveling away fans and chants of "were going to win 8-7" and "You're not singing anymore" to the group of Carlton fans with a drum and a trumpet. Its good to see humour like this in defeat and for me sums up non league football. A nice day out, a few beers and a bit of football.

I would say that having seen them twice this year that Carlton Town are the best pound for pound side i have seen. This win lifted them up to second in the league and on the evidence of the two showings i have seen they will take some stopping. Shepshed slumped to bottom. I hope they turn it around as they have a great group of supporters but it could well be a long season for them on this showing.

Quote of the day comes from a Shepshed fan who said after the 7th when in. "Fuck me lads don't let in anymore we can't count past 7!"
Oh and the Imps got the draw!!!

Admission £7
Programme £1.50 not the greatest but far from the worse.
Badge £3
Food chips mushy peas and mint sauce. £2 very good. second only to Gainsborough.
Ground 5/10
Match quality 8/10
Clubhouse and beer 5/10 Good to see a Victoria Zizkov pennant in the bar.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

James Harrison

For some reason the NFL have fined Pittsburgh's James Harrison $75,000 dollars for these two hits in Sunday's 28-10 win over the Cleveland clowns. Tossers. Anybody else get the feeling the NFL dont like the Steelers very much?

This win put the Steelers up to 4-1 and half a game ahead of the Ratbird; who bottled it in overtime against New England. The AFC North is now looking like a two horse race. The AFC as a whole is looking a lot tougher than the NFC where weak sides such as 49ers, The Seahawks and the Giants ;-) are based. The Giants are also top of their divison so our bet is still very much on Mr Brown! See you in the Superbowl!!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Lincoln City 2-1 Maccelsfield Town

I wasn't really looking forward this game. Macclesfield were on a decent run, we hadn't won for what seems like an eternity, we hadn't scored for four and a half games, and we don't have a manager.

However upon entering the ground, things just felt different. The Imps were warming up at the Stacey West end of the stadium and it seemed a lot busier. People were discussing the managers position and prospective manager Steve Tilson was sat in the directors area after his interview for the job in the morning. It is looking like it is his job to lose.
Another couple of Sutton brainwaves had also been reversed. Firstly the Imps management team swapped the dugouts back to the positions they were pre Sutton and more importantly at kick off the Imps kicked towards the South Park end of the stadium first half and not the home end. I have always thought it is better to kick towards your home fans in the second half and it looks like the players agree with me.
The Imps backed by a larger than normal crowd were out of the blocks quickly and getting the ball down the flanks and firing plenty of crosses into the box. However as normal, we were struggling to get anybody on the end of them. Macclesfield have some tall defenders so it's no suprise that we struggled to win much in the air in the box. We were getting plenty of corners though which was a change, but all too many times the delivery was poor. We took the lead when Moses Swaibu poked it home following a goal mouth scramble. The goal drought had ended and the relief was clear for all to see. Macclesfield had the odd half chance but overall the Imps were well worth their half time lead.

At half time the youngsters in the crowd were given goody bags from the Lincoln mascot poacher and his helpers. In the bags were sweets, a fun quiz, some football trading cards, and an old Lincoln programme from last season. Its nice when the club does things like this. It doesnt take alot of time and money and it goes down well with the fans.

Macclesfield are lead by former Lincoln assistant manager Gary Simpson who worked so well along side the late great Keith Alexander during the playoff years here at Sincil bank. They also have several former Imps players in there line up. Former Imps captain Paul Morgan was on the bench while Natt Brown was in the starting line up. Former Imps Loanee Hamza Bencherif equalised for Macc with a header following some very poor defending by Lincoln from a free kick.
Lincoln retook the lead from a great free kick from Jamie Clapham. As he lined it up i said to Baz that this was going to be either booted out of the ground or smacked straight into the wall. Instead it flew straight into the top left hand corner as we looked at it. I must stress that Delroy Facey leant into the wall making a gap for the freekick to be slotted through. It was a great strike though, i can't remember a better one freekick in all my years watching matches at Sincil Bank.

All in all i felt that the atmosphere was much better and there just seemed a buzz about the place. Lets see who the new man is....

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The search for a gaffer leaves no stone unturned

Well it seems that the board are to draw up a short list of people they want to interview for the Lincoln City job on Thursday. After goofing up by appointing men who meant well but werent up to the job they have vowed to search far and wide to make sure we get the right man to get us out of the crap that we now find ourselves in...again.

"Holy smoke batman the Lincoln City job has come up AGAIN?"
"Why yes Robin but even we may not be able to crack this one!"

To be fair to the board the names being mentioned so far seem to be of a decent standard. They have also been taking advice from people who have failed as a leader, so as to not make the same mistakes.

"Yo bob hows things? no i am not to busy at the moment"

Even supporters have been involved in the process of selecting a new boss to lead us for the next eleven months or so. As you can see from this photo below.

The candidates discuss tactics before their interviews...

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Chris Sutton leaves.

Well after 14 wins out of 51 games played, Chris Sutton and his number two Ian Pearce walked away from Lincoln this week for Personal reasons. The Imps are 20th in the table, the same place they were when Sutton took charge a year and a day ago. Since then he has totally rebuilt the squad so this is very much his team.
Over the past few months results and more worryingly performances have been dreadful. We haven't been conceding a vast amount of goals but have only scored 5 ourselves.
In the past i have tried to defend Sutton. I was willing to put up with poor football last season and hope to see us moving forward this. I wasn't expecting us to storm the league or even make the playoffs. I did think however we should be looking for a top half finish and an improvement in performances. Alas this hasn't happened.
On the plus side the table is still very tight so its not as if the incoming manager will inherit a side 8 points adrift and getting 4 or 5 goals slammed past them each week. Our defensive record isn't too bad, its just that because we are struggling to score, any goal we let in is fatal to our chances of getting a point or three.
I will give credit to Sutton for walking, as i am sorry to say if he had stayed you could only see one outcome. The loan market saved us last season but not being able to get a decent striker in this season has cost us. We do have wingers who can create chances and get at defenders but there is just nothing on the end of the chances they create.

Sutton struggled with his PR but i must say in the one chat we had with him at Bishop Storford in pre season, he came across very well and to his credit it was he who started the conversation. After Jacko we were always going to get somebody who was a little bit more reserved but i feel that the board could have helped him with his PR.
So who next? What let Sutton down in my view is that i don't feel he really knew what it takes to succeed at league two level. Or what players at league two are capable of. We need somebody who knows what league two is all about and have a bit of non league knowledge as well. Any takers?