Friday, 25 February 2011

Barnet 4-2 Lincoln City

I had really been looking forward to this match. Barnet is always a decent away match and a relatively easy ground to get to, and there is a decent pub right next to the away end. Due to the weather and fixture lists we haven't done too many Lincoln away games on Saturdays. Lincoln always take good numbers to Barnet so the atmosphere is always good.
All was well in the world when i arose from my pit in the morning. The previous nights curry had made its last stand, the sandwich orders for day had been phoned in by the guys so after watching the morning line i set off to pick up the food for the journey from Bacons; the best place in Retford to pick up great sandwiches.

The journey down to North London was fairly non eventful one moment of note was when we slowed down to allow a pheasent to cross the A1. Due to the fact we have had rain for most of the last week or so i was a little concerned that the match would be called off. On the way down we overtook the Lincoln team coach and a car with a Sheffield United sticker in the back which received a cupped hand salute from Baz. Its hard to believe that it looks like the Steel City derby could well be played in the third tier of English football next season. Wouldn't mind a trip to either club in next seasons JP Trophy though. Although we will more likely get Hartlepool, Carlisle or Rotherham away (Providing we stay up that is)

We had a drive round the streets near Barnet's Underhill stadium but couldn't find anywhere to park the motor, so we parked up at Barnet Underground station. Barnet high street, which is only a five minute walk from the tube station, has quite a few decent places to eat and drink pre game. With this being London the chances of getting a decent Kebab in the afternoon were quite high. Alas the steady drizzle of rain put paid to these plans. Nobody really wants rain getting in their large lamb donner so we headed straight to the Red Lion pub which is right next to the away end.

As normal the pub was full of away fans. This is one of my favourite away pubs in the country. The walls are covered with old sporting drawings and portraits from the early 1900s. The pub does a nice range in pies and homemade sandwiches as well. The beer is expensive but that is what you expect in London, we got sat down in a corner and merrily drunk our drinks and all was well in the world.
Baz had pre-ordered the tickets and we had to pick them up from the ticket office (Not surprisingly really) The office and club shop are at the far end of the stadium to the away end so it gave us a chance to have a look around. The club shop is a portercabin type thing and sells the normal football stuff. The Programme was the league normal £3 and quite good. There was a stall doing face painting but unfortunately nobody seemed to be taking up the opportunity, although a young away fan wanted to have his face painted in the colours of the mighty Imps but alas Scrooge McDuck the Celtic fan wouldn't allow it ;-)
There is also a food hut next door to the ticket window selling a better range of food than there is inside the stadium.

Lincoln normally take a good following to London matches and today was no different. Like most teams Lincoln have many exiled fans in the capital and the south east. You can always spot the London based fans by the way they are dressed. Its hard to explain this but if you have spent any time in our great capital city you will know what i mean. There are most certainly different rules for dressing in London as there are in the rest of Great Britain. For example one chap was dressed in a Cowboy hat, red scarf, long leather coat and lime green cord trousers. In London nobody would bat an eyelid. If i strolled into the Olde Sun public house in Retford on a Friday night i would imagine i would get a very different response. The sheer quirkiness of London is one of the things i love about the place.

It was 16 of your finest English pounds to sit and a pound less to stand. We opted for the seating which gave you a decent enough view of the action and the famous "Barnet slope". Lincoln were kicking up the slope in the first half, and quite a bit of rain had fallen overnight and throughout the day thus making the pitch very heavy going. Neither of these however were an excuse for the first 45 minutes of "football" that Lincoln produced.
Barnet were quicker out of the traps than i am at turning off the tv when David Cameron is speaking. Lincoln were second to every ball and positionally were all over the place. It looked as if Barnet had an extra man as Lincoln were chasing shadows. Barnet had a flurry of corners and it was from one of those Barnet took the lead after only five minutes when ex Sheffield United striker Steve Kabba rose unmarked to head home at the near post. How you can forget about a six foot plus former Championship striker and the near post amazes me but then again this is Lincoln.
You would have though that that was the kick up the arse Lincoln needed but it wasn't. Barnet kept on attacking and Lincoln continued to struggle Barnet fired a few crosses into the Imps box that weren't delt with convincingly while Lincoln offered very little up front.

it got worse on 15 minutes when Ali Fuseini conceded a penalty which Kabba buried to make it 2-0 this was rapidly turning into another Bury/Shrewsbury farce. But this time we were losing to the team bottom of the league and had a two and a half hour trip home. It got a bit better for Lincoln after we got into their half once or twice but didn't force the Barnet Keeper into many/any saves. Barnet hit the post when it looked easier to score and missed one or two other good chances. Lincoln had a great chance to get back into the match when Ali Fuseini floated a free kick into the box but Grimes for once failed to connect with it. If he had it would surely have made it 2-1 as the keeper was well beaten. That miss hurt even more when Barnet's Mark Hughes curled in a great goal from the edge of the box after the Imps failed to clear their lines. Half time 3-0 and if truth be told the scoreline flattered Lincoln.
One place i like to visit in London is the Natural History museum which has a great dinosaur collection. At half time i was thinking how much i would rather be there instead of watching the cant-defendasaurus and the cant-pass-asaurus. In the Lincoln ends there were definitely a large number of sightings off pissedofasaurus angrily grazing on pies and burgers.

I would have loved to have been a fly on wall of the Imps dressing room at half time because whatever Steve Tilson and Paul Brush said it certainly worked. Luke Howell pulled one back on 47 quickly followed by a close range effort from Ashley Grimes and all of a sudden Lincoln were in a game that we barely deserved to be in. The Imps were really taking the match to their hosts and it seemed only a matter of time till the Imps got the third. I have never seen Lincoln get anything from a match when being 0-3 down.
Felice was even more distraught at the news that Italy were getting yet another kicking at rugger; this time at the hands of the Welsh.
The Imps won a penalty and up stepped Ashley Grimes who had his spot kick well saved. Moments like this change games. The miss really took the wind out of Lincoln's sails and Barnet clamped down and started to exploit Lincoln's flanks. Barnet have real pace upfront and it was causing Adam Watts and co at the back real problems. Barnet killed the match off when a ball was crossed to the back post and nobody picked up McLeod who had a simple tap in. A poor goal to concede and one that summed up the day. The rest of the game was played out tamely enough with Barnet looking the more likely to score and Lincoln chances being few and far between.

So what does it all mean? Well Barnet close the gap on Lincoln but it could have been worse. Stockport, Burton and Maccelsfield all got beat and we remain 9 points clear of the drop zone with two matches in hand. One of those is on Tuesday night when Oxford United visit Lincoln. Although we still have a nice gap to the relagation zone we could do with a win just to keep everything ticking over. Our next two games are at home so we have a chance to bounce back.
All the best to Barnet for the rest of the season but i would still say that Barnet and Stockport are favourites for the drop which is a shame as they are both great away days.
On the way back we listened to England giving France a good kicking in the six nations. I dont take much notice of rugby but mentioning France allows me to sign off this blog entry with a picture of a French maid to cheer up the Imps that travelled to London yesterday.
Over and out.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Game off

Wednesdays plan of going to watch the North Nottinghamshire derby between Worksop Town and Retford United went tits up when the match was called off due to a water logged pitch at Cannon Park. Oh well. The match has been re-arranged for Thursday the 17th of March. Worksop now have to play 7 games in 15 days in March. Nice.

Apart form that i had a mixed sporting night. Inter,s quest to become the first team to retain the Champions league since it was re-branded suffered a huge setback when they lost 1-0 at home Bayern Munich.
On the plus side the Nottingham Panthers recorded there fifth straight win on the spin by beating the Newcastle Vipers 6-3 in Nottingham.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Lincoln City Res 3-0 Leeds United Res

Due to work being pretty hectic at the back end of last year i had a couple of days holiday rolled over to this year. One of them was used for the day after the Superbowl. Defeat hurt so much that night that I couldn't bring myself to blog about it. I decided to use the other one today so i could take in Lincoln City reserves Vs Leeds United reserves in the afternoon. Admission for reserve matches at Sincil Bank if free to season ticket holders so its a win win situation really (and you get a free teamsheet!!). It could also be said that booking a day off work to watch a reserve team game that really doesn't mean anything is quite sad, but with Leeds high flying in the Championship there is the chance of seeing one or two decent players in action.
Due to the number of games that the Imps have played over the past month or so i expected our team to be a very young one mainly made up of youth team players and maybe one or two trialists with a couple of fringe players thrown in for good measure.

After going up into the town to get my phone sorted (its only taken me about 4 months to get it fixed) I headed down to the ground. First stop as always with football was the chip shop to stock up on pie chips and peas. I then planned to tick off a pub on the high street that i haven't been in yet; The Shakespeare. Alas it doesn't open till 4.30 pm so i headed to the Golden Cross for one in the hope of seeing some of England's opening match against the Netherlands in the cricket World Cup. Again i was out of luck as they had Bargain Hunt on. Oh the joy.

Sincil Bank is first and fore most a football stadium but in recent years the club have really done a decent job on advertising the faculties for conferences, meetings, training courses etc etc and today was a great example of this. The NHS had a large conference in the Centre spot and there was also something going off in the executive club. Due to all of this going activity Lincoln City's elite Stewards had be brought in mantain order and make sure people didn't end up in the wrong place.

Due to the executive club being booked up you couldn't get a beer as you normally can at reserve matches but seeing as it was pretty cold it really wasn't much of a problem. The club had opened one of the catering points in the St Andrews stand which was serving hot food and drinks to the decently sized crowd that was in attendance; with a good few travelling from Yorkshire. I took up a place next to the press area in the St Andrews stand was quizzed by the chap from West Yorkshire radio on the strength of Lincolns line up. After telling him about the side and which players had first team experience he seem quite confident that Lincoln would win as with Leeds having a first team match with Barnsley tonight they were fielding a very young side. The man to watch in the Leeds side was their number nine Ramon Nunez. Lincoln had a side that for the most part could have been the starting eleven a few months ago as you can see below.

1) Joe Anyon
2) Cian Hughton
3) Joe Anderson
4) Karl Cunningham
5) Paul Green (C)
6) Patrick Kanyuka
7) Mustapha Carayol
8) Ali Fuesini
9) Ben Hutchinson
10) Scot Spencer
11) Jake Gibson

So only Jake Gibson and Karl Cunningham haven't played in the Imps first team this season. Whilst Anyon, Hughton, Green and Carayol had all played for the Imps in our 4-0 kicking at Leeds in the Carling cup 1st round tie back in August.

Leeds v Lincoln back in August

Lincoln dominated the first half. Cunningham playing in the centre of the park looked a class act and ran the game along with Ali Fuesini. You could see Ali has a very good footballing brain and very rarely gave the ball away, if i have a slight concern about him its that he doesn't seem to be very quick but his passing is a different class and if given protection, could well pick most league two defences apart.
Lincoln had already wasted a couple of good chances by the time Ben Hutchinson gave us the lead with a neat turn and finish into the far corner. Hutch and Scott Spencer had linked up well and were giving the young Leeds centrebacks quite alot to think about. The Imps went in 1-0 up with Joe Anyon yet to make a save of any note. It had been an entertaining match, watched on by former Imps Simon Weaver, John Schofield, Jon Whitney and Tony Cunningham.

I was expecting Leeds to come out all guns blazing in the second half and just after halftime they had their best chance of the game when Anyon smothered out Nunez from close range. Lincoln went further ahead on 53 minutes when a Carayol corner was miss judged by Gonzalez in the Leeds goal and Patrick Kanyuka (minus the beard) headed home.
Leeds were unfortunate not to get back into it shortly after when a free kick from Nunez was rabbit punched out by Anyon and luckily fell to a red and white shirt and cleared. Cian Hughton had been having a great game getting foward down the right and it was from one of these runs that the Imps got their third, as he won a Penalty when he was tripped in the box. I thought he fell over himself but as nobody seemed to complain i can only assume that i was wrong. Ben Hutchinson stepped up and sent Gonzalez the wrong way for 3-0.
Shortly after that it could have been 4-0 when Hughton blasted a great effort against the bar from about 30 yards after another great run. It was however the visitors who finished the strongest when the hit the bar with a headed from a corner then Grella sent the rebound over.

Full time Lincoln City res 3-0 Leeds res.

All in all i was pretty happy with the Imps today. Karl Cunningham really does look to be a decent prospect as did Jake Gibson. Lets hope they both continue to work hard and follow the examples set by Danny Hone and Lee Frecklington. Fuseini and Kanyuka both got another 90 minutes under their belts and are starting to get up to match pace. Scott Spencer worked hard upfront and just needs a goal to give him confidence. Overall the whole side did well but you have to remember that they were pretty much up against Leeds United's youth team. Had it been Leed's normal reserve side it would have been much closer.
None the less it was a very enjoyable afternoon and as season ticket holders get in for free, very good value for money.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Lincoln City 0-2 Chesterfield

Better, but not quite good enough.
That would be my of summing up yesterday's game. I must admit that going into the game i wasn't very confident of getting a result. Chesterfield have only lost 4 matches all season and although they hadn't won in the last five matches they were 5 points clear at the top of the division and were also the joint top scorers in league two.
Back in September the Imps had run Chesterfield quite close at there new B2 Net stadium, and that was with Chris Sutton in charge! For long periods of the game the Imps had matched the league leaders, it was certainly a lot better than the 0-5 and 1-5 kickings Bury and Shrewsbury had given Lincoln when we faced them at Sincil Bank.
After a bright opening period form Lincoln, Chesterfield took the lead (isnt that always the way it happens?) Julian Kelly blasted a back pass which Imps keeper Carson didn't have a cat in hells chance of controlling; this allowed the on rushing Chesterfield striker a simple tap in as the ball cannoned of Carson into his path. Not on for the Imps end of season DVD.
Lincoln were having plenty of the ball and possession in their opponent's half but werent forcing keeper Tommy Lee in the Chesterfield goal into many/any saves. Lincoln did manage to concede their 2nd penalty in two games, tough, but Carson made a save from what was a poorly taken penalty, one that was in my view not a penalty at all, so justice was done you could say.
The second half was much the same as the first with Lincoln putting in plenty of effort but Chesterfield kept them at arms length. Carson in the Lincoln goal pulled off a couple of great saves and thoroughly deserved his man of the match award. Chesterfield made the points safe when they headed in from a corner with about 10 minutes left and that was that.
That win now puts Chesterfield 8 points clear at the top and are looking odds on to be champions. Given that, i expected their fans to be more noisy than they were, that said to them, beating a midtable side like Lincoln maybe isn't much to get excited about?
As for the Imps this defeat didn't hurt too much. Stockport got thumped at home 1-4 in the relegation battle six pointer with Macclesfield, and Barnet got a draw at Cheltenham. There are plenty of sides in betweeen Lincoln and the drop zone but i am just focusing on the red line. As i write this Lincoln sit 10 points clear of the red line with three games in hand on Stockport, and two in hand on Barnet(soon to be three) who are eleven points behind Lincoln. Lincoln have a very welcome midweek off this week while Barnet travel to Southend United. Most of the other sides in the lower midtable area also play midweek with Macclesfield v Morecambe being perhaps the biggest game.

The week coming up

I have booked a day off on Tuesday to go and watch Lincoln reserves take on Leeds at Sincil Bank with a 2.00pm kick off (Free admission to season ticket holders!) Wednesday night is the Bassetlaw Derby with Worksop taking on Retford (at Retford) Next Saturday sees Lincoln travelling to North London to take on Barnet. A win there could/should go along way to preserving our league two status, and the Retford Imps will be there folks.

I couldn't finish this blog entry without what i think is one of the quotes of the season. For the past few seasons Chesterfield have been pretty much a one man team with Jack Lester banging in shit loads of goals for the club. He was on the bench today but did come on late on in the match. As he has scored plenty of goals against Lincoln my thoughts were "Oh fuck here we go again". One time Vine Inn left back and former 5 a side keeper Felice's response to former Nottingham Forest striker Lester coming on was "Prph! Cunt isnt good enough to lace my boots" pure gold and it must surely be one of the quotes of the season. I tip my hat to you sir. I would have answered the phone during the old Firm match today, but i was busy writing this shit you know ;-)

Midweek round up.

A couple of non league games, the Imps revival continues, and even a spot of music this week readers!

Retford United 1-2 North Ferriby United

Tuesday night saw us take in another episode of the not quite mighty Retford United's march towards relegation with a home game against North Ferriby United. Retford had won the return match 1-0 when the sides met back on September 28th (The last time that the Badgers won) So you would have thought North Ferriby wouldn't be in the mood to allow Retford to do the double over them.
The pitch at Cannon park is really struggling at the moment to cope with the amount of games on it and the weather. It does however seem to be a great leveller. The first half was very tight with chances few and far between. The visitors did manage to take the lead after a balls up in the Retford United defence but to their credit the badger's heads didn't drop and they battled on till half time.

The game wasn't great to be honest and it didn't get any better in the second half either. The one moment of skill came with North Ferriby's goal when a throw in was well brought down and then blasted into the top left hand corner (As we looked at it) Just after this Retford had a stonewall penalty turned down. How the ref missed it only he knows and on the whole i thought he had a poor game; certainly one of the worst refereeing performances i have seen this season. Retford got one back on 90 minutes but sadly it was to little to late, although to be fair to them they deserved to get something from the game. But when you are down the bottom you just don't get the luck. In their last two matches they have only lost by the odd goal so although they look odds on to go down it at least looks like they are being more competative and i hope they can get a few more points on the board before long. The most disappointing aspect of the night for me was the crowd. Only 61 in attendance. Where did the 250+ gates they were getting last season go?

While all this lark was going off in Nottinghamshire, the mighty Imps were down in deepest darkest Hampshire playing Aldershot town. Before the match I would have taken a point and that is what Lincoln returned up North with. The point was even more welcome as we were 2-0 down in the 48th minute. A return of 4 points in two games since the 1-5 kicking by Shrewsbury is very pleasing and shows the fighting spirit Steve Tilson and Paul Brush have installed in the side,long may it continue.

Kirkby Town 1-2 Arnold Town.

Thursday saw us take in yet more Nottighamshire non league football with the
Nottinghamshire senior cup 3rd round tie between Kirkby Town and Arnold town. This match was played at Forest Town's ground due to Kirkby not yet having flood lights.

The Nottinghamshire senior cup

Forest town's ground is quite unusual. The pitch is surrounded by a running track. There is a section of seating on one side which is under the balcony outside the social club. You can take your drinks outside and watch the action from the balcony. This is very pleasant at the beginning or end of a season but it loses its appeal on a chilly February evening. Next to the seats is a terraced area which is very steep but gives you a great view of the action.
Kirkby play their football 3 divisions below their visitors but they more than matched them for most of the game. Kirkby took the lead on 16 minutes with a fantastic long range pile driver for which the Arnold keeper no chance at all. The Eagles got back into it on 20 minutes when an in swinging corner went straight into the net. Shades of Stuart Bimson in this prime. Arnold went on to take the lead on 37minutes when ex Imp Martin Carruthers showed he still has it by beating a couple of players down the side before setting up Tony Law to score.
Kirkby had a real go in the second half but Arnold held out to go through. All in all a good night out with many of Nottinghamshire's top hoppers out in force.
The Forest town social club, although a newish building is from another era. In one room a country and western night was taking place, and in another room a domino match was in full flow. Its all going off in Forest Town on a Thursday night i tell you!

Nottinghahire Senior Cup Quarter final draw.

Carlton Town v Arnold Town
Hucknall Town v Greenwood Meadows
Gedling Miners Welfare v Eastwood Town
Dunkirk v Wollaton

Of the sides left i would like to see Carlton Town win it, buts thats just me.

The none football highlight for me this week was seeing one of the few current artists I like Mr Cee Lo Green winning best international male at the BRIT awards. Maybe i should get a suit like his on this video for the next time i hit the town?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Imps 2-0 Shrimps

Due to being a billy no mates for today's game it gave me a chance to catch the train and get into Lincoln early and sample a few beverages pre match. If Lincoln's performance on Tuesday was anything to go by then more than a couple of beers would be required to get me through the match.
I haven't been into the city centre for a while so i thought i would have a wander up there and see if Chicago rock had re-opened up. It had and is now part of the "Wahoo" chain of bars (which is pretty much like any other chain of bars) Its very nice and arty but at £3.20 for a pint of fosters in a plastic glass its not a place i will be in week in week out. The place does seem to be set up to show live sports though with plenty of screens showing the Manchester derby. Its just a shame there were only about 6 people in watching.

Lady luck has not only smiled on Morecambe fc on their previous three visits to Sincil Bank but she has grabbed them on the dance floor, shoved her tongue down there throats, dragged them behind the pub at kicking out time, took them home and not let them go home till 2pm the next day.
On their first visit a Lee Beavers freak own goal gifted them a point they barely deserved. The next season they again drew 1-1 when a long range free kick was gently floated into the box only for the defence to leave it to the keeper and visa versa thus ensuring that the ball ended up in the back of the net. Last season the Shrimps won 2-1. Lincoln had the ball in the net but the linesman adjudged it to have not crossed the line when replays clearly showed that it had crossed the line. Needless to say Lincoln owed them one.

Whenever a team gets a real kicking as the Imps did on Tuesday its all about how they bounce back. It would have been easy for heads to drop and feel sorry for ourselves but thankfully none of this was the case.
The first 20 minutes was pretty dull with neither side looking like scoring. That all changed when Luke Howell played a great through ball to Ashley Grimes who took the ball in his stride and just when it looked like he had taken it too far stabbed it past the on coming keeper.
Morecambe had plenty of the play but much like the Imps under Chris Sutton had no cutting edge up front. Their main source of attack seemed to be based around long balls into Phil Jevons and winning as many throws in the final third and hurling them into the Imps box. Earlier in the season the Imps would have crumbled in this situation. But that was before Danny Hone returned. The man has been fantastic in the heart of the Lincoln defence since he returned from his loan spell at Darlington it really beggars belief that he was loaned out in the first place. If there are any Ross County fans reading this (though i understand this is unlikely) hope against hope that Mr Sutton doesn't land the job of first team manager at your club.
Lincoln made it 2-0 a few minutes before halftime. This time it was all Grimes as he brought the ball down took a couple of touches before unleashing a fantastic shot high into the visitors net. It had been a even game, the only difference being Ashley Grimes.

The Visitors came out for the second half with fire in their belly but didn't really look like scoring. At half time the Imps brought on Patrick Kanyuka (AKA Beardy boy) and he looked much better than at Bradford. In Midfield Ali Fuseini was playing lots of clever one-twos as the Imps kept hold of the ball quite well. Keeper Carson made one or two decent saves from set plays but other than that Danny Hone and co kept the visitors quiet, they did hit the bar late on but the ball was always rising. City should have added to the score in the last couple of minutes when their Keeper made a great save from Gavin MaCallum but in truth he should have scored. Drewe Broughton came on for Delroy and gave a typical Drewe performance.

Full time 2-0

The Imps now sit 9 points ahead of the drop zone and bizarrely given our form this year 7 points away from a playoff place. It was an important win with Stockport beating Bury and Burton beating league leaders Chesterfield on Friday night. The only down point was the 20 past 5 train was knackered so i had to get the 20 past 6 but whats an hour when the Imps have won? Oh and Mr Barlow snr kept up record of not seeing the Imps lose in the league this season.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Lincoln City 1-5 Shrewsbury Town

Ouch that hurt.

All good runs have to come to an end at some point and the Imps certainly did on Tuesday night. When you have a scoreline like this one there is two ways you can look at it. Either they were fantastic or we were crap. If the Imps ever play crap then this blog doesn't pull any punches in saying so (see the Accrington away blog entry) This performance however was much better than that one, and better than many of the early season Chris Sutton inspired performances.

Tuesday night we simply came up against a side on top of their game who were far too good for us. From the word go they ran at us directly, both down the centre and the on the wings. The first goal came after 6 minutes following a great finish with the outside of the boot after the Imps defence failed to contain their winger. This set the tone for the rest of the match.
The Imps did hit back more or less straight away. Gavin MacCallum broke free on the right and crossed in for Ashley Grimes to convert from close range 1-1 after only seven minutes of play. That goal only seemed to wake Shrewsbury up and they were quickly back on the front foot forcing a flurry of corners. The second came on 13 minutes when another dangerous cross was knocked in by Julian Kelly for an O.G.
Next step forward Shrewsburys Lional Ainsworth.
Shrewsbury paid good money for this guy in the summer and in 13 devastating minutes we were going to see why.
Gavin Hoyte has signed on loan for the Imps for the rest of the season and by and large has been a good signing and don't little wrong. However he must have been watching his Arsenal team mates second half defending at Newcastle pre game because that is the only reason i can think for him trying to run the ball out of defence instead of just booting it long up the field. On 22 minutes he tried this crazy move thus allowing Ainsworth to rob him off the ball and fire hard and low into the corner. Two minutes later it was 1-4 when a loose ball was fired home from the edge of the box through a crowd of players. His 13 minute hatrick was complete when he spun off the centre half and finished with style. His third was a wonderful piece of skill and one of the best opposition goals seen at the bank for a while.
1-5 after a mere 35 minutes. Things weren't looking good.
Lincoln dug in but still the Shrews had the better of the play. It was a relief to get to the break. Lincoln had had decent spells of knocking the ball around and a couple if half chances but we had just been blown away by the visitors.

The second half was much closer. But to be fair Shrewsbury at 5-1 up took there foot of the gas, The Imps did compete more but never looked like scoring if truth be told.
Ok so tonight wasn't very good at all but all unbeaten runs come to an end at some point and this was ours. Results elsewhere went our way though so at least that is something. Lets see how we respond at the weekend.

In other news the Chip shop had run out of Kebab meat before the match. A bad night indeed readers.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Retford United 0-4 Matlock Town

After a decade of success it's been a tough season for Retford United this time around. Cut adrift at the bottom of the table with only eight points collected all season and out of all the cup competitions. At times the club have only managed to field a bare eleven players. Despite all this the club battles on and still attracts a hardy bunch of followers although one or two seem to have dropped off for one reason or another.

I normally get to the see the Badgers of Retford about half a dozen times a season. With local neighbours Worksop Town also sharing Retford's Cannon Park stadium it means Retford based football fans are never short of a live game to go to. The ground is also built on a flood plain. All this plus the fact that it had rained all morning meant the pitch resembled a bog in places(although it was perfectly playable) I got up there about 1.30 ish and headed straight to the bar like a Guinea pig after a sprig of fresh parsley.

Its rugga bugga time over here at the moment so that was on the big screen in the excellent Cannon park club house.
After England put Wales in their place Friday night it was the turn of perennial wooden spoon winners Italy to pit there wits against Ireland in the Six nations championship. I don't give a toss about rugby if truth be told. The only highpoint to it for me is to see England give Scotland there annual kicking. It is amazing how most people dont care about Rugby then as soon as the six nations starts everybody loves it. A good few Matlock fans had made the short trip over from Derbyshire and given the crap weather outside many were in the bar.

I met up with Baz just before kickoff and we trudged round to the far end under the covering. Matlock were kicking towards us so we stood with them for the first half. Felice joined us just after kick off and tuned in BBC Radio Lincolnshire so he could keep us up dated with the Imps quest to win 5 games in a row away at Hereford United.

This wasn't a day for passing football but it was great to watch. In what was a throwback to "the good old days" It was a scrap with the ball spending more time in the air rather than on the deck. Unsurprisingly Matlock did look to have the upper hand in 'on the ball' skill but the boggy pitch made it easy for Retford to get bodies behind the ball. Great news came through from Hereford as DELROY FACEY had bagged his fourth of the campaign to put the Imps 1-0 up.
Moments later, Retford went 1-0 down when the keeper flapped at a hopeful ball in the box, missing it thus allowing it to nestle in the back of the net. A real punch in the guts for the home side. The goal signalled Pie chips and mushy peas time for us so we ambled off for refreshments and watched the rest of the half from side of the pitch on the halfway line.

We returned to the clubhouse at halftime to check out the scores and get out of the rain. Lincoln were holding on at Hereford while the egg ball Azzurri were down but hanging onto Ireland's coat tails in the rugby.

In the second half Retford matched their opponents and even got a couple of good attacks in themselves. Unfortunately straight after one of these Matlock countered and the ball was soon in the Retford net. This cushion seemed to settle Matlock down and they began to turn the screw on Retford. The Badgers keeper made up for his earlier goof by saving a penalty from Matlocks top scoer Ross Hannah, but he had no chance with the 3rd and 4th. The score line was a tad harsh on Retford but that's life.
Lincoln held out to go 9 points clear of the drop zone in league two! Who would have though that 3 weeks ago? Not me!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Calverton U19 4-1 Harworth

Calverton is one of Nottinghamshires most scenic grounds in summer. However its not quite as good in the depths of winter. I had a great evening in the company of Mr Rob Waite and Mr Malcom Storer both blogging legends here in Nottinghamshire. Here's the links to their blogs

The 66POW - Robs Blog

On the road - Malcolms Blog

For 70 minutes it was a close game then Harworth folded and were (unjustly) on the end of a 4-1 score line. Calvertons 3rd being the pick of the goals for me. The only down point for me was the £1 cost for the programme that amounted to little more than a folded piece of A4 paper with the squad lists and league table on it. Very poor.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Bradford City 1-2 Lincoln City

Next up for the in form Imps was a trip to the shithole of Bradford to see the Imps take on Bradford City. Bradford had a brief period in the Premiership in the early part of the last decade and due to this they view themselves as a "big club" who shouldn't be bumming around in the bottom half of league two. In reality they are a league one/two club at best who are based in a total dump in West Yorkshire and who's big crowds are due to the fact that the board have made season tickets stupidly cheap while charging away fans £20 a time.

As a ground i quite like Valley Parade and i would imagine that the atmosphere when it was full back in the Premiership/Championship days was pretty special. Perhaps their biggest moment was on the last day of the 2000-01 season (think it was then, i can't be arsed to google it) When they beat Liverpool to stay in the Premiership for a second season. The year later they were relegated, and the rot set in. Hence it is the visit of Lincoln rather than Liverpool that the home fans have to look forward to. If they don't wake up it soon could be the likes of Forest Green and Grimsby.

Sincil Bank had been the Anfield of league two on transfer deadline day. Striker Scott Spencer had signed till the end of the season. Midfielder Ali Fuseini had signed an 18 month contract (although Monday afternoon may cut that short) Thirdly Centre back/Midfielder Patrick Kanyuka had signed a deal until the end of the season. The former champions league player with CFR Cluj started the match and has the distinction of being the only Lincoln player i have seen to sport a full beard while playing for Lincoln. Due to this, and the fact non of us can pronounce his surname, he will be known "Beardy Boy".

Again, like at Anfield, players left. Moses Swaibu of "Chickengate" fame was released which in truth was no great surprise. The big shock was that the Imps longest serving player and club captain Scott Kerr was released and joined Blue Square premier league side York City on an 18 month contract. Scott was never one of my favourite players but he always gave 100% for the Imps. All the Retford Imps would like to wish him the best for the future. All we need now to complete the Anfield comparison is for an owner of a struggling baseball club to buy us and take us forward. Here's hoping the Pittsburgh Pirates owner will buy us and build up our stadium and youth sides like he has done at the Pirates. Well, we can all dream can't we?

We got into the Stadium pretty much bang on kick off. Bradford had penned all the Imps fans into a end of a stand than was on the side of the pitch with our view being on the 18 yard line. Despite the poor view the 300 or so Imps fans still created a good atmosphere.
Bradford were quickly out of the traps and were a very physical side with route one football being the game plan. They completely blew the Imps out the water for the first 20 minutes or so. Danny Hone was pretty much a one man show for the Imps at the back winning header after header and making last ditch tackles a plenty. We struggled to get hold of the ball let alone do anything with it.
The Bantams took the lead when Luke Howell got skinned on our right, the cross was put into the box and wham 1-0 with the Imps all over the place and 10,000 Yorkshire Muppet's with their tails up. Bah.
The game was littered with fouls and free kicks which in a way helped the Imps to settle. It has been noticed that since International forward Delroy Facey took the armband the Imps have looked much more of a group and pulling together in the face of adversity. Delroy isn't in the shouting and chest pumping captain mould and is more in the Beckham style of Captain; less shouting, more leading by example, and leading the post match interviews. Indeed his impact on this City side is in the same league as Beckham's on England in the early to Mid 2000's.
It goes without saying that it was Delroy who got the Imps level 5 minutes before halftime with a fantastic header that went across the Bradford keeper and into the far corner. The Imps went in 1-1 at halftime. A score we didn't deserve if the truth be told. We had been out fought in midfield and looked weak down our right hand side. Beardy boy looked a little short of match fitness and had made numerous mistakes, while it would have been harder to dodge round a guinea pig, than it was to get round defender Luke Howell. Danny Hone and Delroy were by far and away the outstanding Imps.

Beardy Boy was subbed at half time by Ali Fuseini. Felice said this was to be a game of two halves and for once he was correct!!! The Imps settled down and passed the ball around and made Bradford chase the game. Ali in the centre was able to pick up pass after pass and never looked like losing the ball. Howell looked like a totally different player and the Imps were well on top as we spread the play from left to right. On the rare occasion Bradford got the ball they just pumped it forward which Danny Hone and Co just gobbled up and set the Imps up for another couple of minutes of keep the ball.
I would love to tell you about the Imps winner but i was "emptying the snake" at the time. Needless to say that Canada's finest Gavin MaCallum had got it and dedicated the goal to his dad. The Bradford fans headed for exits as the Imps held on for the last ten minutes or so. Just before the goal Delroy had been subbed after suffering a slight knock. The Skipper received a standing ovation from the Lincoln fans that was as enthusiastic as the one that greeted the Allied troops when they liberated Paris. His replacement, Drewe Broughton received one akin to the welcoming Nick Clegg will get on his next public meeting in Sheffield.(Barr one Lincoln fan from Retford who acted as if the long lost son had returned)
To be fair to Drewe this was his best performance for the Imps. One out of his five touches of the ball were great.
Lincoln held on to record there 4th win on the spin. With Barnet's game at Aldershot abandoned due to fog it allowed Lincoln to open up a six point gap over the drop zone with 3 games in hand. Steve Tilson and Paul Brush led the Imps players and coaching staff over to the away section to thank us for our support. Little things like this mean alot to fans and it's a stark contrast to the Sutton regime.

The real high point to an away game at Bradford is the chance for a real Kebab after the game. Last season we had a fantastic one at Hannahs Kebab house. So off we headed through Bradford to find it. If you want to imagine what the journey looked like then just put Berlin 1945 into Youtube and you will have a pretty good idea. When we got to Hannahs it was boarded up and our hearts sank like a stone. We drove on to another Kebab shop and ate there.
Fleece gave it a 7/10 but i will go for 5/10. The meat was nice enought but the lack of Salad variety andthe fact that we had to wait over 20 minute for them to arrive and that they got one of our orders wrong, go against it. Yes i am a tough man to please but i am always fair.

Admission £20
Programme £3 Average at best
Ground 9/10
Match quality 8/10
Imps man of the match Danny Hone
Food 5/10

The hight point of the night for me was walking back to the car and hearing the Bradford fans moaning and complaining like little bitchs. Makes a change from us moaning for once! Fuck you Yorkshire as they say.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

So how did that happen?

Wednesday 26th of January. EIHL Challenge cup semi final 1st leg.
Result Newcastle Vipers 4-3 Nottingham Panthers

Game on you might say? All set up for a great second leg in Nottingham the following Sunday?

Sunday 30th January Semi final second leg
Nottingham Panthers 15-0 Newcastle Vipers.

So the Nottingham Panthers win 18-4 on aggregate and will face either Belfast or Cardiff in the final. This match made the SPL look competitive. Full credit goes to Newcastle who kept going despite having played the previous night and having a smaller bench than the Panthers. Having only seen the second leg it makes me wonder what the hell happened in the first leg. how do you lose by one goal one night then go and slam 15 past the same team a few days later?