Monday, 31 October 2011

Alfreton Town 1-1 Lincoln City

Big day for the Imps today. Not only was it the 4th qualifying round of the FA cup but it was also the first game for new Imps manager David Holdsworth. He was appointed on Monday on a contract till the end of the season and has been tasked with guiding the Imps to a safe mid table position.
Many Imps fans were surprised and disappointed when he got the gig. He wasn't my choice for the job but was far from the worst candidate for the job in my eyes. After a time to reflect on it he ticks all the boxes on the board's check list. In my view the most important thing we needed was experience at working at Blue Square prem level. Mr Holdsworth has this from his time at Mansfield Town and has worked at the level below with Ilkeston Town. He guided the Stags to finishes of 9th and 12th in his time there, something we would gladly take now given our position in the league at the moment. A few eyebrows have been raised about the large number of signings he made at Mansfield but given that cash is a tad tight at Sincil Bank at the moment i don't think he will have that problem here anytime soon. After hearing his press conferences and seeing the way he conducted himself in his first match i am starting to believe that the chap could well be just what we need at the moment. Yes anybody can talk a good game, but our last two managers have struggled to even do that.
Good luck David you are going to need it.

Ok today's match. At stake for the winner a £12,000 prize and a place in the first round proper of the FA Cup alongside the footballing heavy weights of Macclesfield, Accrington, Barnet, and Sheffield Wednesday. For the losers, a weekend off in a couple of weeks and a chance to wheel out the old cliches of "Now we can concentrate on the League" and "I would rather have three points" blah blah blah (and a chance to get a random game in ground-hopping  in the instance of nothing else better to do)
Given that this was the start of a new era and the FA cup first round proper was at stake, what Imps fan could resist the temptation of this match? Answer one that is under the thumb away on a family day in Blackpool. It would have been very interesting had we drawn Fleetwood away!

Alfreton isn't too bad of a draw. It's fairly local and they sit only a couple of places below the Imps in the table. It was only 18 days ago that we were here for a league match and came away with a fine 1-3 victory. There was certainly a lot of worse draws we could have been handed. Having only been here a couple of weeks ago i was able to get us straight to the ground without any trouble at all and got the motor parked up a mere guinea pigs' goal kick away from the away turnstiles. Even though it was just after 2.00pm there were a good number of Lincoln fans milling around along with a good showing from the Derbyshire constabulary. We walked up to a dodgy looking shop at the end of the road then headed into the "Impact Arena"

Welcome to the "Impact Arena"
Just as the other week it was £13 quid for the pleasure of watching the match and £2.50 for the programme. The disappointing thing for me was the fact that Alfreton had again only opened up a small area of the away terrace for the City fans despite the good away following the Imps had brought here recently. This meant that once again it was almost impossible for most City fans to get a decent view. On the plus side though it wasn't raining. I can forgive a club for underestimating the number of away fans once but twice in two weeks is a poor show in my opinion. I realise that this is there first time they have played at this level for a while but they really need to start improving certain things. It's not as if they are packing the ground out week in week out and can't afford to give away fans any more stadium room is it? The stand is divided into three pens and i can't think of another ground that still has this kind of segregation any more (i am sure there must be one somewhere). Its a real throw back to the 80's, along with Liverpool winning things, Big hair, high heels with tracksuit bottoms, and  Baz and Felice's slip on shoes and white socks. I don't like be critical of clubs especially at this level but on this occasion i feel its warranted. (So there!)

We didn't go to the chip shop this time and headed like bats out of hell over to the food hut. I must say that the range of snap on offer was most impressive and it all looked pretty tasty. In the end i went for the Cheeseburger and chips option for £4.20 which i thoroughly enjoyed.  The cheese was nicely melted onto the burger and not just thrown on before being served up. The chips were a tad on the greasy side but a solid effort on the food front and an 8/10 overall. The pies and pasties did look nice as well, but i didn't hear any reports of their quality.

After snapping up i had a quick flick through the rather average programme. Over the two issues i had read I've only really been impressed with the column penned by the Alfreton Town FC chairman Mr Wayne Bradley (the rest of the program is distinctly average!). He seems to be of the very rare breed of football chairman who talks a great deal of sense. At the first game i felt he was spot on about clubs spending what they can afford, and in today's column he refused to blame the ref for the recent defeat at Mansfield laying the blame firmly at the feet of the players. If we had more chairman like him at the top level of the English game instead of the cowboys at the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Blackburn etc, then maybe, just maybe, the game wouldn't be dying on its arse. I get the impression that even if Alfreton are relegated at the end of the season the club will be in a stable place financially and be able to bounce back. Sensible spending seems the order of the day here.

Also impressive was the warm up that the Imps players were undergoing. There has been a lot of speculation amongst Imps supporters as to who will be David Holdsworth's number two or even if he will have one. Today he was helped out by former Forest player Gary Charles and former Hull City and Grimsby player and ex boxer Curtis Woodhouse. DH, sharp suit and all, was also heavily involved in the warm up and took a special interest in working with the back four and watching their drills very carefully. After the laid back style of Tilson and Brush this made a refreshing change. DH also went round to each player; wishing them well. Indeed there seemed to be a fair bit of back slapping and high fives going on between the players and staff. It was certainly one of the most structured warm ups i have seen in a while. Since the John Beck days in fact.

This being the FA cup clubs are allowed to field 7 subs. Alfreton have a bit of an injury crisis at the moment and were only able to name two subs. Lincoln named a full bench with injury casualties Josh Gowling and Francis Laurent among the subs. The latter making his first appearance of the season. It was a new formation for the Imps today with DH going for a 4-1-4-1 line up with Sam Smith as the lone striker. Off the pitch it was a great turn out off Imps fans and there seemed alot more than made the first trip over here.

Lincoln got off to a great start when Nicky Nicolau crossed in for Sam Smith to head home his third goal against the reds this season from close range in the tenth minute. Lincoln looked in control for much of the first half with the home side reduced to long range efforts and set plays. However the game turned on its head in the 40th minute when in a moment of madness Imps keeper Joe Anyon collected the ball just ahead of the on rushing Alfreton player Chris Senior. What happen next was unclear to the Imps fans as we were at the other end of the ground but it appears that Anyon pushed him which lead the the Alfreton players surrounding the ref. The ref then consulted with her assistant then showed Anyon the red card, gave the home side a penalty, and handed them a way back into the match.
As City now had no keeper, an outfield player had to be sacrificed in order to allow sub goal keeper 17 year old Nick Draper to come on and make his first team debut. Simon Russell being the player to make way. Now if this was Roy of the Rovers then young Draper would have pulled off a fantastic save from the penalty and seen us through to the first round of the cup. But as this is Lincoln City however he was sent the wrong was and Alferton were level having barely troubled the Imps in the first half at all. Its a funny old game as they say.
There was also movement off the pitch as halfway through the first half the stewards decided that instead of having folks stood in the gangways they would open up a second pen for the Imps fans. As soon as it was opened up i scurried into it. The view was slightly better. In fact i got a perfect view of the home side’s equaliser.
HT 1-1

All of a sudden the game had a totally different outlook. Had we been offered a replay i am sure we would have taken it. I would also expected the home side to throw everything they had at us. Over the years i had rarely known City survive in such circumstances. Given the situation we were in it wasn't surprising that we werent throwing bodies forward at every opportunity but nor did we look under a huge amount of pressure at the back. As the game wore on the home side had more of the play but Draper was only forced into one decent save and cleared his lines well and collected what few crosses Alfreton threw into the box.  The home side then happened upon a really good chance that they blasted over following a shot that hit the far post, but City deserved to have a bit of luck. With about five minutes to go we got our first look at French winger Francis Laurent who although looked a little rusty made a couple of decent runs down the right. When he gets a bit more match fitness under his belt we could have a decent player here. The main fireworks came off the pitch as sections of the home and away support tried to get at each other but were kept apart from each other by the old bill and a group of furry crocodiles. (Police dogs)
FT 1-1
At the end of the match it was great to see DH and the players all come over and applaud the City travelling support. We managed to pick up BBC Radio Lincolnshire on the way back and got the impression that the ref had made the correct call over the sending off and that Anyon had been a tad foolish. David Holdsworth seemed to agree with this but overall he like us was impressed with the work rate of the City team. I know its very early days but it does seem as if DH has good PR skills and appreciates the fans something the last two Lincoln City managers never quite got. The only downside of picking up BBC Lincs was the fact that we got to hear Scott Dalton commentate on a very lucky last minute equaliser for Boston United.
The upshot of all this is that City now face a quick turn around as the replay will take place at Sincil Bank this coming Tuesday night with a 7.45 Kick off. Admission is a bargain £10
Great turnout by the City fans

And the prize to the winner, a chance to get thumped at home by league one play off chasers Carlisle United A mouth watering home clash with Carlisle United in a couple of weeks time. The side that i watched Lincoln City take on in 1994 in my first ever Lincoln game. It finished 1-1 Gary Bannister with the Imps goal.
Some things you just never forget.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Nottingham Panthers 6-0 Dundee Stars

I have been on a bit of a football diet over the last week or so. Last weekend i swapped my footie shirt, jeans and jacket for a suit, shirt, tie and winkle picker shoes and headed off to Doncaster races for an old friend's stag do. Naturally as a Lincoln City fan my luck ran true to form and I won sod all but it was still an enjoyable day out and something i will definitely look to do again in the future. I didn't miss a Lincoln game as we had got stuffed 2-0 at Cambridge United on the Friday night.
Nor did i take in a footy game midweek. Instead i took in the Nottingham Panthers match with the Dundee Stars at the NIC. The Nottingham Panthers have had a great start to the season and before face off sat in 2nd place in the Elite League standings behind the league leaders the Belfast Giants. As with football we have a pre match routine on hockey nights. The fact that we arrived a 3 and a half hours before face off allowed us to extend the drinking period in the Pit and Pendulum with was all decked out in crappy Halloween decorations.
After a small but respectable win on the football quiz machine we had the misfortune to encounter a freak called Timmy who was wearing a New England Patriots jacket and rambling on about the GMB (The main sponsor on the Panthers' Jersey) He seemed to take a bit of a shine to my worst half so, as Harry Hill would say, we made our excuses and left to make our merry way over to the lace market fish bar for a pre match bite to eat. As normal i went for the kebab meat and chips with chilli and garlic which was delicious. Normally the shop is full of Panthers fans but today it seemed fairly quiet.
The NIC (National Ice Centre) is the largest arena in the league which is fitting as the Panthers draw the largest crowds in the league. The NIC also a major concert venue for the East Midlands with everything from the Saturdays to the WWE stopping off here on tour. Its good to see that Nottingham still draws in the big acts. Its even better to see that Bill Bailey  is soon going to return to Nottingham and not let his experience of a drunken Retfordian in the curry house on his last tour put him off. A lads night in Nottingham when he returns messrs Brown and Binks?
Dundee have improved a lot since last season. About the same time last year we watched them get blasted 11-2 in Nottingham after going 6-0 down in the first period. The sides have only met once so far this season, in Dundee with Nottingham running out 4-1 winners. Last weekend Dundee managed to lose three games in three Counties in three days when they lost in Belfast,Cardiff, and at home in Dundee. Its a seven hour plus trip from Dundee to Nottingham but still about a dozen hardy souls made the trip down. I tip my hat to each and every one of them. They made a decent amount of noise as well. We have made some long range midweek trips with Lincoln but nothing like that.
Photography is banned in NIC (boo!) so i apologise for the lack of pics inside the arena. One thing to bear in mind with Ice Hockey games is that they vary rarely face off on time due to the amount of faffing about they do pre game; introducing the teams, the mascot, playing the British national anthem etc. The puck is always dropped by a celebrity with Notts County manager Martin "Mad dog" Allen performing the duty tonight.

The game was quite tight in the first period but it did seem to flow quite well with Nottingham looking to get forward and the Stars happy to hit them on the break. Nottingham opened the scoring when they only had four outfield players on the ice (and one in the sin bin) when Matt Francis scored with a great run and hit it into the roof of the net.
It was much the same in the second period when for all their dominance the Panthers could only add one further goal from Brandon Benedict when he scored with a low backhand goal. Notts had hit the pipework a few times and had had a number of chances to add to the score but fluffed them. Dundee chances had been few and far between but it only takes a second to score a goal and change the game.
Dundee had been well organised for much of the game but conceded four goals in 4 crazy third period minutes when Scott Champagne, David-Alexandre Beauregard, Matt Francis, and Marc Levers all found the back of the net to give the scoreline a very one sided look. Although Dundee didn't have many efforts, what  they did have were all stopped by "K-WALL" in the Panthers goal who once again showed his class with a third consecutive home shut out.
The only slightly disappointing thing about the game was the crowd which was the lowest i have every seen at a Panthers game. But with it being midweek and with a big home game against Belfast at the weekend i suppose it was to be expected (even so about 3500 was quoted as the attendance).
The following evening we had a night around Nottingham visiting various public houses and bars. Bargain of the night had to be the six flavoured shots of vodka for £10 in Vodka Revolution.
And of course no night out in Nottingham is complete without a curry at the Mogal-E-Azam curry house and a piping hot Chicken tikka vindaloo. This is one of my favourite curry houses in the country and the one where I had the hottest curry i have ever had back in 2005. It is also infamous for warm Guinness, Bombay mix getting spilt everywhere and international comedy stars getting served before three drunken fools from Retford. Although one of them was perhaps a tad more drunk than the others ;-)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Cups cups cups

The FA Cup draw was done on Monday and has handed the Imps an away day at Alferton Town. The same place we visited only last Tuesday. Oh the joys. Lets hope it isn't pissing down with rain this time and we get  a simlaer result to the one we gained last time. This should also be the new Lincoln City managers first match so we should see a decent turnout of Imps fans make the short journey over to Derbyshire.

Nottingham senior cup 2nd round draw

The battle for the Nottinghamshire senior cup has reached the 2nd round stage and there are some positively mouthwatering clashes in store. All the clubs involved are either at step 7 or play in the NSL. A win here could give them a tie against one of the seeded sides in the third round when the big guns of Nottinghamshire football enter. (All sides from step 6-2) NSL side Wollaton are also seeded due to there run in the competition last season.

2nd round draw
Thoresby Colliery Welfare v Gedling Southbank
Baseford United Attenborough
Notts police v Newark Town
Southwell City v Clifton
Sutton Town AFC V Clipstone Welfare
Bilborough Pelican v Hucknall Rolls Leisure

Ties to be played on 19-11-11. Advisable to check kick off times before you travel.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Lincoln City 1-1 Mansfield Town

The weekend
I did see two games at the weekend but both were pretty poor (hence no blog posts). I wasn't too surprised that Lincoln went down to BSP big spenders Fleetwood town on Friday night. We went in 1-0 at halftime but our normal defensive gaffs cost us in the second half as Fleetwood ran in three goals that were all pretty similar. Anyon saved the first effort only for an on rushing Fleetwood attacker to be first to the ball with the Lincoln defence AWOL.
Then on Saturday we made the short trip to Cannon park to take in Retford United's match with Maltby Main. This in my view was the worse non Lincoln game i have seen this season. Neither side managed to string more than 3 passes together and the ball spent about 80% of the time in the air. Once again Retford, who can play good football when they want to, were dragged down to their opponents level. In the end the badgers did win thanks to a last minute deflected own goal. They didn't really deserve to win but i will take the three points.
As i have visited both Sincil Bank and Cannon park quite a lot this season i didn't bother with a full winded blog. Anyway you really didn't miss much. Longer blog posts will be back in the very near future.

Lincoln City 1-1 Mansfield Town

The first local derby game of the season, and a game i always look forward to. Mansfield is my most visited away game as an Imps fan and was the location for my first ever Lincoln City away game way back in October 1995 when we won 2-1 with goals from Gareth Ainsworth and Steve Holmes. There were also two sending offs in that game and both managers were also sent to the stands. Somebody should have told me there and then that away games aren't always that exciting.

Over the years i have experienced pretty much every kind of result and performance against the Stags ranging from the dreadful 1-4 home kicking they gave us in 00/01, through to Gisbert Bos scoring the best City goal i have ever seen  in 95/96. Over the years things have been pretty even between the clubs when we have met but the one thing you can say about most of the games is that they are never dull with goals a plenty.

This time round Mansfield have got off to a decent enough start and arrived at Sincil Bank just outside of the playoffs and were fancied to do well following their appearance in the FA Trophy final last season and considering their player recruitment over the summer. Earlier in the season they recorded an impressive run of five wins on the spin but have stuttered a little of late. Like the Imps they came into this match on the back of a 1-3 home defeat and were looking to get back on track. On paper a game against a side in the bottom four and without a manager looked like an ideal opportunity to do just that. Much as i wanted City to win (as always) i must admit i had a feeling in my gut that we weren't going to. Mansfield have some good attacking players and haven't been short of goals this season and we all know what Lincoln's defence has been like of late aka shite.

Apart from the obvious on going situation with the vacant managerial position the other topic that has been discussed by City fans of late is the home attendances. Tonight was one our best attendances of the season but that was only due to the fact that Mansfield brought over 900 with them leaving just about 2000 City fans. Now there is two ways of looking at this. Compared to last season it is pretty crap, but if you take into account that last month we only had 1500 home fans for the Gateshead home match then you could make the case that people are slowly coming back now that Tilson has departed. I think we all accept that crowds are poor at the moment and bridges need to be rebuilt with the fan base after 4 poor seasons on the pitch. There are fans out there, look at the Aldershot crowd for the last game of last season, but it will be a tough sell to get those disillusioned fans back on board.
The Stags lined up with a couple of former Lincoln players in their ranks. I think its fair to say we never got a chance to see the best/worst of Paul Conner as he spent much of his time at Lincoln on the treatment table. But he seems to have got his career back on track in Mansfield and has scored his fair share of goals. In goal the Stags had former long time Imp Alan Marriot who spent 9 seasons with Lincoln before being released by Peter Jackson. As is fitting for a player who has spent such along time with the club he got a decent reception from the Stacey West end at the start of the second half. In my view Marriot was a decent enough lower league keeper. Yes he won us some games single handedly but he also made his fair share of gaffs. You could never fault his commitment to the cause though. I wouldn't say he was the best City keeper i have seen; that honour falls to Barry Richardson. But he will always be remembered for being a good club man, and how often to players stay at one club for nine years these days?
Signed Alan Marriot picture taken in our 5-0 win over Grimsby in
2005/06. Hey who's that good looking chap in the stewards jacket on the left? 
On to the match. The first half was a close cagey affair but it quickly became apparent that both sides were better at going forward than defending. Karl Cunningham made his home debut and once again impressed the City faithful. Sam Smith was having a steady game for Lincoln leading the line while at the other end Matt Green looked very sharp with much of the stags front play going through him.
Clear cut chances were at a premium however. The nearest we came to a goal came in the 38th minute when Fuseini lost the ball to Lindon Meikle who sent an effort crashing against the inside of the far post with the ball running out to safety. City's best effort had come a few moments earlier when Cunningham headed over and was left totally unmarked in the Stags 6 yard box. Although each side had had a few shots not too many were on target. The half ended goalless, with Mansfield maybe slightly shading it.

The second half was thankfully much better than the first. Mansfield built up a head of steam and had a period when they were pretty much camped in the City half. Joe Anyon made a couple of fantastic saves on the line to keep the score goalless but you got the feeling it was when not if that Mansfield would score. But as football so often does things happen when you least expect it!

A long punt down field from Anyon was collected by Gavin McCallum who managed to get goal side of the centre back and slam a volley past Marriot into the goal! 1-0 Lincoln in the 76th minute. Although i was pretty chuffed to say the least i also knew that Mansfield would now throw pretty much everything they had at us.
City brought on former Stags fans favourite Kyle Perry and we all hoped that he would do what so many players do and score against his former club. Alas apart from a great run down the left wing following a great piece of skill and turn of pace he never looked like scoring.
A little piece of Lincoln history was also made tonight when Jordan Thomas became the youngest player ever to play for Lincoln city when he replaced Karl Cunningham. Shortly after that Mansfield got the equaliser in the 86th minute when Green fired in from close range; bugger! But it had been coming.
Both sides had half chances to win it but couldn't take them and a draw was a fair result.

Before the match i would have taken a point. We all know that we need to score two goals to win a game these days such is the rarity  of clean sheets. In all fairness though the Lincoln defence had one of its better nights, with keeper Jo Anyon being the star of the show.  Mitchell Nelson on loan from Bournmouth also impressed me at centre half and is filling the gap left by Josh Gowling as he recovers from injury.
All in all a decent game and a decent point. If you want to read about it from a more Mansfield based source i recommend you check out Mr Rob Waite's excellent 66pow blog

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Alfreton Town 1-3 Lincoln City

Its Autumn. The nights are drawing in, the leaves are falling and Lincoln City have begun there yearly search for (yet another) new manager. Steve Tilson and his assistant Paul Brush got the boot Monday evening with youth team manager Grant Brown taking over as caretaker manager whilst the board hunt high and low for somebody crazy enough to take on the challenge of managing the Imps.
But before the search for a new gaffer starts the small matter of an away match at fellow BSP strugglers and  last seasons BSN champions Alfreton Town FC.

Alfreton isn't too far from Retford so it was a short but pleasant journey over to Derbyshire in the Bazmobile. En route we exchanged stories from our various trips over the previous weekend. Baz and the boys had the pleasure, if that's the right way of putting it, of watching Lincoln's 4-0 kicking at Tamworth on Saturday. By the sounds of it i got by far the better the deal by watching Dunkirk FC then the Panthers.  Although i did get to miss out on "The Old Bailey boy" and his antics. Although its always an interesting time hunting for a new manager, we were both pissed of at the fact that we find ourselves in this position again. It only seems like 5 minutes since we were looking for a new manager. We seem to change our manager more often than the Sugarbabes change their member line up. This time we have to get it right. Just like the last time and the time before that and the time before that....

Alfreton's ground is quite well hidden but we  found it, even if we did take a short detour around the town; checking out the scenery if you will. As we had arrived in plenty of time we managed to bag a prime spot; a mere hop skip and a jump from the away turnstiles. So far so good. The ground is in a natural bowl and from where we parked you got a decent view of the whole stadium.
As neither of us had eaten and with over an hour to go till kick off we decided to have a ferret about and see if we could find anything to stuff our faces with to keep us going till our Kebabs on the way home. After a short walk up the road we spied a chip shop and a chinese so dived in to grab a bag of chips. There was only about 4 people in front of us. Great we thought quick bit of snap then off to the footie.
What we actually found was the chippy with the slowest service in the United Kingdom. We must have been in there about 15 minutes or so. It was also pretty hot in there which isn't ideal when you have a thick padded coat on.
When the chips arrived they were above average although it had started to drizzle when we got outside and as every chip lover knows chips and rain don't mix. So it was a race against time to eat them before the rain soaked them. Yes i did look like a pig eating out of a trough, but downtown Alfreton on a Tuesday night in October isn't the place to be worried about what you look like eating a bag of chips.
On the way to the ground and indeed around the town we had noticed that the local police were out in force. This was a bit of a surprise. Either the rozzers were expecting the Lincoln fans to give Tilson some stick (if he had stayed) Or the club/town/local police were still coming to terms with Alfretons new status in the football pyramid and were unsure as to what numbers away sides would bring this season. As with much in life the answer is probably a bit of both.

Tonight it was 13 quid to get in and for that you got a spot on the uncovered terrace in the corner. Some seating was available for an extra pound along the side of the pitch.  A very charming young lady sold me a programme for £2.50. I didn't get a chance to read it though as the drizzle coming down quite steadily now. It wasn't raining heavily and thankfully it wasn't to cold or windy. We hoped that it was just a shower but nope it continued all night long. I believe this is what people call character building. It wasn't too bad though i had my long coat and cap on. Lucky enough i hadn't left my cap in the car. I mean who would do such a foolish thing?  Especially if they had been working outside all day cleaning gutters and stuff.. hmmm.

The Impact arena is a basic kind of ground. Opposite us was a small uncovered seating area with covered stands down each touchline. The stand we were in was the largest of the four. The open terrace we were on was split into two sections. We had a small corner with Alfreton getting the other two thirds. A section of Alfreton's side also had a roof over part of it. Which would have come in quite handy on a night like this. The crowd was 1,232 with 410 Imps fans. I am not great at maths but it works out that roughly a third of the total attendance were from Lincoln. Now given this i don't think it would have been unreasonable for us to have the larger section of the terrace. The home fans could go round to which ever stand they wanted to go in and so had plenty of space and cover. I don't like criticising clubs but i do think Alfreton got it wrong this time.
Due to the fence between the sections, the shallow rake in the terrace and the fact that the Lincoln section was quite full a large proportion of the away following couldn't see the near goal.(Myself included)
Wish you were here?
After a bright opening spell from the hosts, Lincoln hit them with a double whammy with two goals from Sam Smith on 11 and 13 minutes. I would love to tell you what they were like but I couldn't see. I did have a great view of Alfretons goal on 18 minutes though. A ball was humped in from about the halfway line and headed home by Paul Clayton.
City's two goal lead was restored 5 minutes later when McCallum latched onto Anyon's long goal kick and struck a great volley home from 20 yards out. I did see the ball leave his boot but didn't see the ball hit the back of the net. But who cares! City had just scored three goals in the first half and i can't remember the last time we had done that. Or even got three goals in a game for that matter.
Apart from the obvious fact that we were 3-1 up, the other plus point of the first half was the performance of young Karl Cunningham who was making his first team debut. I have always been impressed with him whenever i have seen him play for the reserves and he looked right at home playing for the first team. Huge credit must go to Grant Brown for having the balls to give him a first team shirt.
Lincoln kept their hosts at bay for most of the 2nd half restricting Alfreton to chances from set plays. Although as our defence has been dodgy for a couple of years now, i was never totally confident that we would get the win but if anything it was Lincoln who looked like adding to the score.
The final whistle went and you could tell how much it meant to the Lincoln players, staff, and the fans who had endured a soaking on the terrace.
Many more harder challenges await us in the days ahead but lets just enjoy the night shall we?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Dunkirk 1-0 Boldmere St Micheals

Today was a chance to kill two birds with one stone. Tick off another Nottinghamshire non league ground in the afternoon then take in our first Nottingham Panthers game in the evening. In fact i could have made it a real sports marathon with the Japanese Grand prix qualifying and Rugby World Cup action in the morning but that would have required me to get up stupidly early so it didn't happen. In the end i didn't miss anything really. Vettel grabbed pole and England bombed out to France in the quarter finals. Same old same old you could say. I decided to watch The Morning line whilst finalising plans for today and drinking a splendid cup of Earl Grey tea.
The plan was to get the 11.03 to Worksop then change and get the 11.38 to Nottingham have a couple of drinks then grab a bus out to The Ron Steels sports ground; home of Dunkirk FC. Unfortunately for the first part of the journey i had the presence of a few Grimsby fans on the train on their way to watch their side lose at Mansfield Town, but the journey after Mansfield was pleasant enough. Which is more than can be said for the weather as it was pissing it down. Oh well it doesn't rain in pubs as they say and from the pictures i had seen Dunkirk had a couple of stands to take cover under.
I got the directions to the ground courtesy of Mr Rob Hornby who told me i needed the 48 bus to Clifton which could be caught from one of the bus stops just a couple of hundred metres for the train station. Another benefit of this bus stop is that it is a mere stones throw away from the Canalhouse bar, so i decided to chill out with a couple of bottles of Brooklyn lager.
I left the pub at just gone 1.40ish thinking i had left plenty of time to get the bus,find the ground and enjoy i pint before the kick off. It was only when i got to the bus stop that my plans started to unravel at a rate of knots.
I as i came out of the pub i saw a 48 bus pull away but i knew that they ran every 10 minutes or so so i wasn't too concerned. It had also stopped raining which was a another plus. However i hadn't factored in the unpredictability of the Nottingham City buses. The next bus just flew straight past even though it was hailed down. So it meant waiting for the next one which arrived at about 2.05. It was a doubledecker so just like an overenthuastic school kid i bombed straight up to the top deck. The bus takes you through the Meadows before heading over to Clifton. I knew i needed the stop before Clifton Bridge and thankfully there is an indicator telling you which stop is next. If it wasn't for this then i could have been well buggered. Its not a long journey on the bus maybe ten minutes or so but it always seems longer when you haven't got a clue where you are going.
After getting off the bus you head through the subway but like a muppet i managed to come out of the wrong exit. The map i had printed out in the morning was pretty useless and i ended up in the middle of an industrial estate. After about 15 minutes of walking (it always seems further when you are wearing a thick ice hockey jersey) in totally the wrong direction i turned back and had another go and instantly worked out where i had goofed. After taking the other exit out of the subway. I saw Old Lenton lane on the other side of the roundabout. If you ever try to find the ground and end up outside car show room selling Ferrari's and the like you are completely in the wrong place.

Sometimes when i am not at Lincoln games i have good choice of games to go to, sometimes i am restricted. Today i had a choice of three matches within about 300 yards of each other as there are three grounds next to each other on Old Lenton Lane. The first ground you pass is that of CML Southern division (Step 7) Bilborough Pelican who were hosting Blidworth Welfare in the Notts senior cup 1st round. Next along is Greenwood Meadows FC of the EMCL (step 6). Who were at home to Anstey Nomads. Then the lane turns to the right you go past a posh looking restaurant on your left hand side and you see The Ron Steel sports ground home of Dunkirk fc who ply their trade in the Midland Football Alliance which is step 5 of the footballing pyramid and on a par with the NCEL Prem which Retford United play in.
I had just about made it in time. Dunkirk's clubhouse and changing area is outside the ground and the players were just coming out to do battle. I paid my £5 at the turnstile and a £1 for the programme. As you enter there is a stand that looks like it is half built immediately to your right hand side.
If you follow the ground round the other covering in the ground is on the far touch line in the form of a large covered standing area and another small seated area. The rest of the ground is uncovered but there is hard standing all around the ground.

There wasn't a huge number of people watching the game which was understandable, what the weather had been like for much of the day. Most of the ground was covered in leaves given that much of the ground is tree lined and that we are now well into Autumn. One more thing to bear in mind is the only toilets in the ground are outside the ground (hope that makes sense) in the clubhouse. From what i have read the positioning of the clubhouse was a major reason as to why the club didn't join the NCEL as the NCEL wouldn't have allowed for a club to have its changing rooms outside the ground.
Looking at the table both sides were locked in lower midtable with only a point separating 13th placed Dunkirk and BSM in 15th, so a tight match looked to be in store and so it ultimately proved to be. It started to look promising when Dunkirk's Craig Meakin beat the offside trap and blasted home in the first minute of the game. The defence complained about the goal but it looked ok to me.
This was the first time that i had ever seen a match in this league so i didn't really know what to expect in terms of quality. The game was quite niggly and littered with free kicks most of which were met by verbals from whichever team conceded the free kick. Dunkirk were playing a high line up the pitch which BSM nearly capitalised on a couple of times but the Dunkirk keeper was alert to the danger. Dunkirk have a skillful front line who made some neat off the ball runs but were at times out-muscled and stopped in their tracks by some crude defending. Neither side created many clear cut chances but the visitors just about shaded the first half in terms of possession. But it's goals that count and Dunkirk had the only one of the first half. Everybody seemed quite friendly and a couple of people came up and asked me how the Panthers were doing this season. As i got to the ground late i decided to check out the clubhouse at halftime.
HT 1-0
Dunkirk's clubhouse has a real football feel to it and i really liked it. There is a hatch selling hot food and drinks and a separate bar that sells beer. At one end of the clubhouse is a large screen that was showing the re-run of the GP qualifying from earlier in the day. Taking pride of place on the walls are framed shirts of former Dunkirk former players who went on to play for Nottingham Forest and Notts County. Wes Morgan and Jake Sheridan.
Also hung on on the walls are pennants form non league football clubs. Spot any familiar ones by any chance?
Although i didn't have a pint, (shock horror!) i did purchase a smart looking pin badge for £3, I then chilled out and read the programme. And what a programme it was. It had plenty of information about Dunkirk and the club's history and aims for the future and as well as a good section on the away side. What i was impressed with the most was the news and round ups from all the other leagues that involve local non league clubs; from step 4 to the NSL, from U19'S to reserves Tables, fixtures, and results it's all in there folks. The editors deserve a huge amount of credit for putting together a great publication and all for a quid. I enjoyed the round up of the Notts intermediate cup first round results; I am both well aware and concerned that that makes me sound rather sad, maybe i need to get out more.
Not having a pint did allow me to be out of the clubhouse in good time for the second half. Lincoln were losing 1-0 at Tamworth, some things never change do they.
The second half continued in pretty much the same vein as the first with the game following very little pattern, being littered with freekicks, and both sets of players complaining about pretty much everything going. Then about halfway through the second half came the talking point of the match. A through ball was played and a Dunkirk player gave chase to it and in doing so collided with the on rushing goalkeeper who gathered the ball but got a clip from the striker in the process. In my view the striker had every right to go for the ball and the contact didn't look that heavy. The BSM keeper saw it totally differently though and when they both got up went head to head with the Dunkirk striker and appeared to butt him a couple of times. I do have to say though that i was stood behind the incident so i couldn't totally judge how much contact there was but there certainly seemed to be intent. This then sparked a mass brawl with players wading in left right and centre, with pushing and shoving aplenty.
In my view the ref handled the incident very well. He calmed down the situation then consulted with the linesman on the nearside and issued the keeper with a red card and the striker with a yellow. After the brawl a couple of other players can count themselves lucky not to have been carded.
It would appear that BSM didn't have a keeper on the bench as an outfielder took over in goal. Given this you would have thought Dunkirk would have adopted a shoot on sight policy but the stand in keeper didn't have a whole lot to do. The home side had some good chances from corners and free kicks but managed to head them wide. If anything it was the visitors who looked the more likely to score as they built up a head of steam and tried to force the equaliser, but luck just wasnt with them today.
FT 1-0
Stand in keeper
As i strolled back to the bus stop i got a call from Felice at the Lincoln match. We had lost 4-0 and had a man sent off again. I asked him how it was "Absolutely f##king Sh#te" was his assessment. I think that pretty much sums it up.

The bus stop back is short walk from the one you alight from but thankfully i wasn't waiting to long for the bus back and was back in the town centre for just gone 5.20 and then after meeting up with my better half ambled over to the Pit and Pendulum and prepare for the big hockey match.
What with all the excitement i hadn't had much to eat today. A sausage roll picked up from the shop next to Retford station being my total fuel for the day ahead. So after the pub we headed down to the lace market chipshop for a large portion of lamb donner and chips, which was, as normal, delicious if a little heavy on chilli and mayo but you can't have everything can you.

The hockey match didn't go quite the way we thought it would. Edinburgh have up till now been the whipping boys of the EIHL this season and last year recorded an 18-0 loss in Nottingham. However they went 1-0 and 2-1 up in the first period. I was pretty glad when the Panthers went into the first break even. The second Panthers goal being the goal of the night for me.
It wasnt really until the last 5 minutes of the 2nd period that the Panthers started to pull away from Edinburgh when we scored a couple of goals in the last few minutes.
The Panthers took their foot off the gas a tad in the third period and ended with a final score of 7-3 although i felt the scoreline was harsh on Edinburgh and doesn't tell the full story.

All in all a decent day an to good games. All i need to do is block the Lincoln result out and all is well.

Adams sporting world results
Tamworth 4-0 Lincoln City
Winterton Rangers 2-4 Retford United
Pittsburgh steelers 38-17 Tennessee Titans
Nottingham Panthers 7-3 Edinburgh capitals
Nottingham Panthers 3-0 Braehead Clan

Friday, 7 October 2011

Plans for the weekend

A rare week without an Imps midweek match this week (normal service is to be resumed in the next couple of weeks however) The only midweek game i took in was the under 19 Bassetlaw derby at Shirebrook Town as Retford United beat their counterparts from Worksop 1-0. Bobby Johnson with the goal on 10 minutes.
Admission £2
Programme 10p

After the unusually warm period last weekend, proper football weather was well and truly back last night as much of the game was played in torrential rain. All credit to the referee and both sets of players for finishing the match. With the weather conditions the game was never going to be a classic but the Retford goal was of great quality. Worksop did have their chances and had one kicked off the line from a corner in the second half but it just wasn't their day.
So onto the weekend. Saturday i will be having a day in Nottingham. First up i will be watching Dunkirk FC lock horns with Boldmere St Micheals in the Midland Football Alliance (Step 5). Then after a quick bus trip back into the centre of Nottingham, via the Pit and Pendulum public house and the chip shop, I will be watching my first Nottingham Panthers match of the season as we welcome the Elite league whipping boys the Edinburgh Capitals to the National Ice Centre. Although Edinburgh are dreadful at the moment we can't take them for granted because the last team they beat was...yep the Nottingham Panthers!

Adams sporting world fixtures this weekend

Tamworth v Lincoln City
Winterton Rangers v Retford United
Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans
Nottingham Panthers v Edinburgh Captials
Nottingham Panthers v Braehead Clan

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Lincoln City 2-0 Bath City

 I don't tend to blog about many home games nowadays. Mainly because they would more or less say the same thing, Something along the lines of

  • We went to the chip shop before the match.
  • City put in a dreadful performance and lost .
  • We came home.  
But today was slightly different. As i was accompanied by a group of good folk who don't normally visit Sincil Bank and had links to today's visitors Bath City. We even had a rogue Mansfield Town fan joining us in the hope of watching some good football and to visit a nice City for a change.
Britain has had some fantastic weather over the past week or so it felt more like a weekend in August rather than the first weekend in October a perfect day for drinking and  hopefully celebrating an Imps victory.
The Lincolnshire flag
Today was "Lincolnshire day" and in recognition of this the club had organised various activities and stuff for kids to do before the game. The main thing the club did was to reduce admission to the match to a mere £10. This was on production of a voucher that was obtainable through either the Lincolnshire echo or failing that you could just print on off the club website (Or you could get your mum to print some off for you if you are a tad lazy) Most, if not all, clubs offer cut price admission for games throughout the season but very few extend the offer to away supporters. I am pleased to say that the Bath fans were also able to take advantage of the discount.

So we all amassed at Retford station for the 11.23 to Lincoln which was busier than normal. Which meant one of two things; either people were determined to make the most of this "Indian Summer" we were experiencing by going to the seaside or they were all flocking to Sincil Bank for the big match.
The day before in the pub at the pre game planning session, four of us had picked two teams each, chucked £2 into the pot and put it all on an eight team accumulator. I decided to pick what looked like cast iron choices as i went for Stevenage to beat Scunthorpe at home and for Nottinghamshire's form side Notts County to continue their good form and grab an away win at the MK Dons. Easy money i hear you shout from your various computer/mobile phone screens around the world.

As Davey went to put on our bet the rest of us trooped off to the Ritz Weatherspoons in the High Street for a liquid lunch. As i was still trying to switch my sleeping pattern round from nights to days i had woken up quite late and not grabbed anything to eat before we left. Never mind, the lager was quite filling. I did actually have some solid food in the pub as on the second round i wolfed down a packet of salted peanuts.

Shortly after we got the first round in we were joined by Davey and his friend Peter who is a huge Bath City fan and his son Ben.  As we chatted it became clear that both sides had pretty much the same problems, a lack of goals, an inability to fight back once they go a goal behind, and managers under a great deal of pressure. There was a good chance that whoever lost this game could well be getting the sack. Bath were bottom of the league on three points (although they did get great points against Luton and Mansfield) with Lincoln not doing much better on 9 points and sitting 4th bottom. whichever way you looked at it, it wasn't going to be a classic. I predicted a 0-0 bore draw. Despite their poor start to the season a good number of Bath fans had made the trip up for the match and most seemed to have decamped in the Weatherspoons.
After a couple of pints we headed down to the George and Dragon pub, but not before Natty nicked the couple of chips and lettuce that Ben had left from his meal. Old habits die hard as they say.

While we were in there we all got chatting about the various highs and lows of non league football, the various levels of the footballing pyramid, and the art of Groundhopping. As the beer flowed Davey decided to place a £5 bet on Bath to take the three points here today. Peter then joined him in the bet. You never see a skint bookie do you? After a swift pint in there we ambled down to the club for a pint or two in the Trust Suite.
Over the past few months i have taken a handful of people into the Trust Suite and they have all been impressed with the bar. Quite a few clubs bars don't let away fans in but that's far from the case here at Sincil Bank. Ok its not great drinking from plastic glasses but i still think we have one of the best supporters bars in the lower league divisions. There was a handful of Bath fans in the bar enjoying the hospitality and Peter seemed very impressed with the Batemans ale on offer. The beer was going down rather well. Andy "Mines a pint" Carroll had put Liverpool one up at Everton on the match on the big screen much to the delight of alot of folk in the room.
Natty's bladder needed emptying and he placed his pint on the side. Unfortunately while he was away a member of the supporters trust came out to read out the teams to everybody in the room and managed to knock over Natty's unguarded and pretty much full pint.
Of course he bought him another one, we are gentlemen here in Lincolnshire after all. Even with this distraction he still read the teams out only breaking off when Natty returned to give him the news about his pint. A true professional if ever there was one. We left the pub at about 2.45ish, bid our farewells and went off to our respective ends of the stadium.
Perry wasn't quite fit so City went with Sam Smith and Gavin McCallum upfront. Lincoln were quick out of the traps and had a couple of shots in the first five minutes although neither were on target. Same old Lincoln really. The Imps took the lead in the 19th minute when McCallum collected the ball from a quick throw then crossed the ball in for Sam Smith to head home. It was a decent enough header but Bath will wonder why Smith was allowed to be unmarked 6 yards out. That goal seemed to settle Lincoln (and the fans) down and we started to knock the ball around much better than we have done over the past few games.
Lincoln got the 2nd goal on 30 minutes when a pass from Power was latched on to by McCallum who out sprinted the Bath defence and blasted into the top right hand corner (as we looked at it)
McCallum has come in for a fair bit of stick this season (myself included) Mainly down to his habit of trying to take on the whole opposing side himself, trying to score wondergoals from 35 yards plus and getting caught offside far too often, but today he was right on the top of his game. He timed his run for the second goal to perfection. Natty seemed to think it was offside from his view from the side of the pitch but from where i was sat; on the back row of the stand behind the far goal, he was clearly onside. Gav said it was onside as well so there! Case closed me lord!
Bath went close just before half time with a deflection that went just wide of the post but apart from that Anyone in the Lincoln goal didnt have a great deal to do. We saw a rare moment of footballing sportsmanship when Gowling and Nutter helped Bath's Lee Philips from the pitch following a nasty looking knee injury. As he was one of Baths best strikers it was a big blow for the Romans. On in his place came former Notts County player Sean Canham.
HT 2-0
Bath City (And Rangers and a Mansfield) fans
Lincoln could have got the third goal just a couple of minutes after the restart when a corner from Power was smashed against the crossbar, Gowling did connect with the rebound but was flagged offside. And that was pretty much as exciting as the second half got really as the heat took its toll. Lincoln created the better of the chances but couldn't take them.
FT 2-0
After the game we again met up in the Trust Suite for a swift pint. We chatted to a few Bath City fans who were waiting for the coach for the long trip home. They seemed annoyed not so much at losing but more the fact that they felt that their side hadn't put much effort in and were just going through the motions. I knew exactly how they felt because that is exactly how we felt at Barrow just a few days earlier and on few other occasions this season.
Afterwards we headed back into Lincoln to grab a few more drinks to celebrate. This was Lincoln's first win at home on a Saturday since the 12th of March last season and i wanted to make the most of it.
I am not going to say we have turned the corner or anything like that. This side is still very much work in progress and it still remains to be seen if Steve Tilson will get the results the fans rightly or wrongly expect. There are plus points; like taking 7 points out of the last 9 available at home for example, but performances haven't been great and in the case of Barrow nothing short of dreadful. Goal scoring is still the main concern as we aren't shipping alot of goals at the back , but we did manage to kept a clean sheet against the league leaders. Both starting front men scored today and with Perry and Taylor back soon hopefully things will start looking up on the goalscoring front.
So all in all in was a most enjoyable day/weekend and many thanks to all. Its just a shame that some prat managed to screw up the accumulator backing sides such as Notts County and Stevenage. And who was that again?

Adam's sporting world results this weekend
Lincoln City 2-0 Bath City
Inter Milan 0-3 Napoli
Rangers 1-0 Hibs
Retford United 1-2 Brigghouse 
Huston Texans 17-10 Pittsburgh Steelers
Nottingham Panthers 6-7 Coventry Blaze
Hull Stingrays 2-3 Nottingham Panthers

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Barrow AFC 1-0 Lincoln City

The hottest ticket in town!
These are the kind of away games we really look forward to. I mean nobody with an ounce of sense or reason would even contemplate taking a three hour plus trip by car to watch a struggling football team in the 5th tier of English football on a Tuesday night in late September.
Well we did. Along with 106 other Imps fans.
Long away trips on Tuesday nights are a must do for us, and we have done a fair share of them in our time at the likes of Carlisle, Gillingham, and Southend to name but three.When the fixture lists came out back in June we had a scan up and down to see which long range away Tuesday trips we had and this one caught the eye.
Before our trip North we met up in local Weatherspoons for a bite to eat and drink. The weather was nice and it was great to chill out in the beer garden and watch the world go by. Given that it was a Tuesday afternoon i was surprised to see the number of folk in the pub. I mean they can't all have booked time off work to watch a midweek footie game could they? Maybe a few were just tucking into a quick dozen pints or so then heading home to watch the afternoon showing of the Jeremy Kyle show or something.
Yes love i have got my coat in case it gets cold,
Yes i wont get into any trouble
And yes i will remember to bring some f##king bread back!
We set off on our epic journey at 1.30 pm and made surprisingly good time encountering very little congestion along the way. The journey was filled with the normal banter and shit flying around the car. The high point was taking the scenic route into Barrow along the Cumbrian coast and passing not one but two ice cream vans. Its all going off along the coast these days it would seem. Well there seemed more life here than there was at Southport on the opening day of the season. We arrived in Barrow at about 4.30pm and headed straight for the town centre to check out was was happening in down town Barrow on a Tuesday evening.
This is Barrow
The answer to that was not alot. We got a few inquisitive looks at our Lincoln shirts as we strolled around but nothing out of the norm. Most of the shops were just about to close up for the night but the guys did manage to dart in for a quick look in a couple of book shops. We were keen to see if Chris Sutton's autobiography was out yet as it could well sell out in Lincoln when it's released. It wasn't and so instead  Felice picked up the latest Rupert bear book to add to his collection. Given the choice of the two i would say that the Rupert book would be a much better read. We couldn't decide what to do next so took the only course of action available to us. Headed for the nearest pub to decide our next move. The nearest watering hole to us was a Weatherspoons and although it was nice enough, it was pretty much like every other Weatherspoons pub in the country.
We managed to pass an hour or so by playing various games on the quiz machine. Firstly we had a go on the Match of the day football quiz game and won precisely nothing. Now given that football knowledge is our strong point you would have thought we would have walked away then. But we weren't going to beaten that easily though and went on to play various other quiz games and again we had the same level of success. The phrase's "could do better"and "fools and their money are easily parted "sprang to mind. We were all getting rather peckish by now and went in search of a kebab before we headed over to the ground.
There were two kebab houses not too far away from where we parked the car so after much deliberation we opted for the Marmaris Grill Kebab shop on Duke street. The food was very nice and all cooked fresh. One quirk was the fact that only lamb dishes were available. I went for a standard large lamb conner and gave it a steady 8 out of 10 (£4.70). The mixed kebabs also got the thumbs up for Baz and Felice (£7). After we were all pleasantly full it was time to set off to find Holker Street; the home of AFC Barrow. On the way we passed by the home ground of the Barrow Hornets R.L.FC. From the outside it looks to be a similar size to that of the football ground.
Parking does appear to be a tad limited on Holker street so we parked up at the nearby 24 hour Asda. Baz was a little disappointed that we didn't go in to purchase a few cakes.
As we still had plenty of time to kill we decided to chill out in Barrow's clubhouse which is situated on the far side of the ground from where we parked up. Barrow's ground has a real old school feel to it and one that i quite like. We passed the away turnstiles and there already seemed to be a good few Imps fans milling around. Barrow's clubhouse is above the club shop and ticket offices. We popped into the shop and picked up a programme for £2.50. Although they didn't have any badges with just the club crest on they did have badges from the FA trophy final in 2010 on sale for 50p. I will have some of that. The shop had some pretty decent stuff in it and plenty of old programmes for Lee to rummage through. Braintree Gary would have loved it.
Barrow's club bar is called the "Cross Bar" (clever eh?) and has a nice view that overlooks the pitch. Both sets of fans are welcomed and mix freely without a hint of trouble. Its great this non league lark isnt it? The club is quite spacious and the kind of place that you could easily have a good session in. Teamsheets were on sale for a bargain 20p; its always nice when clubs do things like that. The two things that stood out from the teamsheet was that due to all their injury problems Barrow had only named 4 substitutes and secondly Kyle Perry was missing from the Imps squad which meant that Sam Smith was leading the line.
The programme was a cracking effort and although there were quite a few adverts in it, there were more than enough interesting articles to make it worth the price. The story about the time when Stenhousemuir came down to play a pre season match was the highlight. The story was made even better as Baz read it out in his best story voice.
It was £14 to stand tonight and an extra pound to sit in the stand to the right of the terrace where we were stood. After about 15 minutes or so the segregation was removed which meant you could stand anywhere which to me is what non league football should be about. A Barrow official came up and chatted to us about various things and explained that the only time that they enforce the segregation is when Fleetwood Town are the visitors. Even though you could go anywhere most of the Lincoln fans chose to stay in the corner of the ground where we had entered. Felice and i did wander over the other side for the warm up and the view was much better. The ground is quite old but has bags of character. The stand to our left was a covered terrace and seemed to be the most popular with the home fans. The stand to our right had the only seating in the ground and was shared between home and away fans. At the end opposite the one we were at was a shallow terrace. The bar was overlooking this end of the stadium.
Main Stand
Barrow hard core!
Leading up to the game Barrow had lost their last three games where as the Imps had taken 4 points for the last 6. Lincoln started the brightest and Sam Smith sent an effort crashing against the crossbar (the one on the pitch not the club bar) in the first couple of minutes.
That's pretty much as good as it got for City all game really. The first half was pretty uneventful. Gowling was getting us out of jail time and time again at the back and upfront very little was happening. Lincoln kept the ball slightly better but again failed to work Danny Hurst in the Barrow goal. MaCallum was having one of his off days and lost the ball far too often. It was the kind of game that had 0-0 written all over it. Sam Smith worked hard upfront but was left isolated far too often and was well marshalled by Adam Quinn who never put a foot wrong all game. Then in added on time at the end of the first half the game changed.
Danny Hone was adjudged to have handled in the ball in the box (it did look very harsh to say the least) and the ref pointed to the spot. Richie Barker stepped up and fired the ball home.
HT 1-0
This was a really sickener. We didn't deserve to be losing this match  nor did we deserve to be leading mind. City were really going to have to fight if they were going to get anything out of this.
In the end the second half was a total none event. I can not recall us creating a decent chance in the whole of the second half. Barrow didn't create a great deal either but they spent more time in our half of the field that we did in theirs. They just kept in simple and did the basics well no fancy stuff and no fuss.
They even took pity on us and had a man sent off and thus played the last nine minutes with 10 men. Not that it made much of a difference. We were a bit more purposeful as the final whistle approached but i could never see us scoring. The only shock of the second half was when a dodgy looking individual snuck off to purchase a tea and did not tell his travelling companions. Charming. No wonder he gets mistaken for other shady characters from time to time.
FT 1-0
After the final whistle when the players came over to the fans they got a mixture of applause and abuse. This was a dire performance from Lincoln and the tide is turning against the manager. Some here supported him some didn't. He/we really need to get some results fast.

And so after a crap performance we had the joys of a 3 hour plus journey to look forward to. To pass the time we had a variety of radio stations to listen to. Firstly we had Radio Five live for the nights football action, Although tonight it should have been renamed the Carlos Tevez and Manchester City show. Two rays of light in the football world for me were the news that Inter had recorded a fine away win in the Champions league 3-2 at CSKA Moscow, and that Rangers had also had a decent 2-0 home win over Kilmarnock.
So after about half an hour of Radio Tevez we had a spot of Bay radio and its crappy "Cuddle on the couch" hour of mushy love songs. Local radio really is stuck in a time warp. As we neared the Yorkshire border we switched to Real Radio.
Somehow the conversation switched from the dire Lincoln performance to Retford's former nightclubbing hot spot the Porterhouse (Dog house or Dogger to some) and the days when Baz and Felice would go up there in their white socks and black slip on shoes and party the night away and then finish the night off with a portion of Porterhouse chips! Those were the days apparently!!