Monday, 28 November 2011

Lincoln City 3-0 Ebbsfleet United

I haven't taken in a Lincoln game for a few weeks. Its even longer since all three regular Retford Imps were at the same City match together. There are several reasons why this has been the case, with some reasons being far more credible that others. Work, Legoland, Ice Hockey etc have all been given as reasons for non attendance. On reviewing these reasons for absence, an independent panel had come to the conclusion that Baz 's trip to Legoland excuse was by far the least satisfactory and that he will need to answer to the three man Kangaroo court on the way to the next away game that we all attend.  It would also help the court if we could get a feeling from the public as to whether or not his defence stands up. So it would be a great help to us if you could take a few seconds to vote in the poll on the right hand side of this blog. Should he be found guilty then he will have to get a round of teas in at the next match. If he is found not guilty (and the chances of that aren't looking great it has to be said) Then his good name will be cleared.
Pre match Kebab and chips whilst planning his defence
There has been quite a lot of activity on the transfer front since the last time i watched the Imps. Danny Hone and Gavin McCallum have left on loan for Barrow and Barnet respectively, while Ali Fuseini and Doug Lindberg have left the club.
To counter this David Holdsworth has recruited midfielders Jake Sheridan and Tyrone Thompson from Eastwood and Halifax FC and striker Luke Medley. I didn't know a whole lot about Sheridan and Medley but  i remember Thompson for an earlier spell he had at Lincoln Under Sir Keith.
I must admit that I wasn't too thrilled at his signing. A wise old Stags fan that i know didn't seem to rate him and he does seem to have become a bit of a journey man. After today however i may have to eat humble pie as he had a decent game . However one swallow doesn't make a summer and all that. Having lost McCallum and Fuseini i was worried about the lack of firepower in the squad. So what goes and happens? Lincoln record their first 3-0 home win since we beat Darlington by the same score in September 2009. Shows what i know doesn't it? Time to have a word with myself i think.
We did our normal pre match routine with Baz opting for Kebab meat and chips whilst i went for the battered sausage and chips option and a freddo frog chocolate bar for pudding.
Lincoln could have been ahead inside of 25 seconds as we nicked the ball from the visitors kick off and sent an effort just wide of the post. Lincoln continued to make all the running in the first half while the visitors struggled to cope with the windy conditions. Upfront Perry was being used as the battering ram with Sheridan playing just behind him. Perry was taking a few knocks and his battle with Ebbsfleet centre half Paul Lorraine was turning into a decent battle with the Lincoln man having the slight edge. Lincoln had to wait till the 38th minute but the goal was well worth the wait. Connal Platt collected the ball, cut inside, then blasted the ball into the top corner. The goal gave Lincoln even more impetus and continued to push forward to try and get the 2nd goal to kill the match off.
HT 1-0
The team were given a great reception as they left the field. The normal crappy stuff went off at halftime as the scores rolled in. As fans chatted about the first half Felice amused himself with a quick game of Angry Birds, which seems to be all the rage at the moment.

Ebbsfleet did have a bit more about them in the second half. Farman in the Lincoln goal made a close range save from Pinney then tipped a long range effort onto the bar to keep the Lincoln lead intact. City killed the game off in the 74th minute when Sam Russell scored with a fierce drive from just inside the area. Game set and match as they say. It got worse for the "Fleet" when Mambo was given his marching orders when he was adjudged to have committed a professional foul when he brought down John Nutter just outside the box.
Nutter took the  free kick himself and scored via a slight deflection off of the defensive wall. Its been a while since we saw a Lincoln side dominate a match like this one and it was great to see so many happy faces at the end.
This win has given Lincoln a five point gap to the dropzone, which is very welcome what with a tricky away trip at York City coming up on Tuesday night. Yes it will be a tough game but if City put as much effort into that game as they did today, its feasible we could get a point. We have already seen some strange results in the league this season so expect the unexpected. David Holdsworth has got the side fighting and certainly putting a lot more effort into the game. Again its very early into his tenure but so far so good. At the end he took the players around the ground to applaud the fans. It will take time for the club to rebuild bridges with the fans after the past few years but DH is going about it the right way.

I couldn't finish this post without a mention for a gentleman who makes Sincil Bank tick on a matchday. After what seems like an eternity head steward Gary Radford is stepping down from his postion on the Stacey West stand. I know from experience its not an easy job being a steward but whatever Gary has had to deal with; be it pissed up fans, fans moaning about stupid shit, pitch invasions, or even blossoming romances between his staff, he has always done it with a smile on his face. If all stewards had his outlook and methods of doing the job then the football world would be a much better place. Good luck mate, and don't be a stranger to Sincil Bank.
All together now "We had the best steward in the league"
On another point as this is my 300th blog post i would just like to thank everybody out there for reading my work. I feel this blog has come along way since i started writing in 2008 and hopefully there is a long way to go yet. I would like to thank all the people who i have travelled with to matches over this time and new friends i have met along the way for being such great company and for giving me something to write about. The last few years have been some of the toughest in Lincoln City's history but i like to think we have had a few laughs along the way.
I should also thank my spell checker and editor because if it wasn't for her then there would be no blog.
The lesser spotted lady groundhopper!
Thank you one and all.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

From Staveley to Inter to England

Staveley u19 4-3 Sheffield FC
Monday 21st November

The week started off with some Monday night football in the shape of Staveley Miners Welfare under 19s taking on their counterparts from Sheffield FC in the Baris North Midlands under 19 league first division. 

Having heard some very impressive reports about the new look Inkersall Road (Staveley's home ground) I was very much looking forward to seeing progress that the club has made and seeing if the ground is as good as everybody says its is. I can now report that the stadium is every bit as impressive as i was told. Its been a good couple of years since i took in a match here and the place has totally changed.

The main thing you notice is the new clubhouse which is one of the best i have ever been in. There are three large screens that were showing the build up to the Spurs v Aston Villa match. The walls are covered with framed football memorabilia with the diamond in the crown being framed and signed shirts from most of the England 1966 world cup winning squad.  All of the tables have the club crest on them The food hut was open and was doing a roaring trade. Quite a few clubs only partly open up facilities for under 19 matches but Staveley open the full lot. And they were rewarded with a very impressive crowd which was around the 100 mark. Sheffield brought a good number with them but plenty of locals had turned out as well. It was £2 to get in with an excellent 16 page programme selling at 50p. Before kickoff Staveley were unbeaten and top of the division the visitors were sat in midtable.

Although Sheffield started the better as soon as Staveley got into their stride they simply blew them away. They were 3 up at the break and it so easily could have been more had the ref spotted a cast iron penalty claim when Staveley's number 9 was pulled back in the box. He did give the hosts a penalty for another offence but it didn't look as blatant as the one he didn't give.

To their credit Sheffield did make a game of it in the second half. They pulled a goal back just after the restart then scored a penalty of their own to set up an interesting finish. Staveley's philosophy on the game is simple. You score three goals, we will score four. They were award a second penalty which they converted to put the game to bed. Sheffield scored deep into injury time when they scrambled the ball in following a corner.

Staveley are a club on the up. Yes they have spent a fair bit of money but the are spending it in the right places and building the club up at all levels and not just the first team. I wish them all the best.

Tuesday 22nd November
It hasn't been a great season so far for Inter Milan. Defeat in the Italian Super cup (Italy's answer to the community shield) was followed by a terrible start to the season and the exit of coach Gian Piero after only three months at the club. Former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri has been given the task of steadying the ship Although results have picked up, the club still sits in the bottom half of the league, although we do have a game in hand on the leading clubs.
So against this backdrop i was very pleased to see the club not only qualify for the last 16 of the Champions league this week but also be confirmed as group winners with a game to spare. This achievement is even more impressive when you take into the account the fact that they lost the first game of the group stage; a 0-1 home defeat to Turkeys Trabzonspor. Winning the group means that Inter will avoid the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich in the last 16. It does however mean there is a good chance that Inter could face English opposition in the last 16 as it looks very doubtful that Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City will win their groups. However given the results of those three clubs in Europe this year Inter shouldn't have anything to fear if they do indeed lock horns. It also looks like AC Milan will not win their group and could well face one of the big guns. Ha.

Wednesday 23rd November
Women's European championship qualifier
England 2-0 Serbia

Not only was this my first professional women's match but it was also my first international match. The venue was the Keepmoat stadium, home of championship whipping boys Doncaster Rovers. Admission was just £5 a bargain in anybody's books i am sure you will agree.
The traffic between Retford and the hole that is Doncaster has been very heavy as of late so we set off in good time to make sure we got to the stadium in time and enough time to collect our pre booked match tickets.
The traffic had been quite kind to us and we got to Doncaster quite early. As we walked over to the ground the Serbian team bus was just pulling up next to the players entrance. After picking up the tickets we had a stroll around the ground and were disappointed to find out that all the bars were shut. Worse still no beer was to be served inside the ground due to the UEFA regulations. As we walked round to the turnstiles the England bus pulled in and we watched the players get off. All the girls had to unload and carry their own bags into the stadium. I can't see the likes of Gerrard and co doing this. With nothing else to do we entered the ground with just over an hour to go till kick off.
Programmes were on sale inside the ground for £3 and we were the first people to purchase one. The food and drink was the normal rip off prices so we didn't bother. £2 for a cup of tea is really taking the piss. Food prices is something i certainly don't miss about the football league.
England were out for there warm up a good ten minutes or so before their visitors and you didn't need to know much about football workout which side were the more professional. England went through very well thought out and testing series of drills and exercises while Serbia just seemed to do a bit of running and a few passing moves. The two sides had drawn 2-2 in Serbia earlier in the campaign when England threw away a two goal lead. So far in the group England had drawn two and won one match and were two points behind the group leaders Holland.

Lincoln Ladies Fc were very well represented tonight. Casey Stoner had the honour of captaining the England side while Jess Clarke started in midfield. Serbia came out playing one up front and looked as if they had come for a point. As you would expect England made all the running in the first half and took the lead when Clarke finished well from just inside the box in the 41st minute.

Clarke turned provider in the 51st minute when she crossed for Arsenal's Ellen White who finished from close range to double England's lead and kill the game as a contest. Although England were camped in the Serbian half for much of the game they couldn't add to their two goal lead.
All in all thoroughly enjoyed watching this game. The standard of the England players was high and thoroughly deserved the victory. All the girls played well but I thought that Jill Scott of Everton should have got the player of the match award as she did all the donkey work in midfield and was unlucky not to grab a goal. England don't play another qualifier till June but if its not too far to travel i would defiantly go and watch them again. Who said International football isn't value for money?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lincoln United 2-3 Shepshed Dynamo

Today's choice of games was a tad limited. City were away at league leaders Wrexham so i was on the hunt for a  localish match. Gainsborough Trinity at home to Boston was appealing but being in a stadium with a load of Boston fans was much less so. There are always a few non league games on in Nottingham but i have done a couple recently and fancied something different. In the end i picked Lincoln United's clash with Shepshed Dynamo FC.
Lincoln United led by Lincoln City legend Terry Flemming finished last season in good form and have carried it over into this season and before kickoff sat in tenth place in the Evo stick division one south (Step 4) Their form in October was enough to win Terry the manager of the month award for October. However, some what predictably they have lost the last two matches in November. A 1-2 defeat at home to New Mills and a 0-3 away defeat at Hucknall Town last weekend. Today's opponents, Shepshed Dynamo sat 4th bottom before kick off just two points off the relegation zone. An ideal chance for the "Whites" to get back on track perhaps?
I rolled up at the Lincoln United club house at about 1.45pm and the place was already quite full. Shepshed took a decent number of fans with them last season when i saw them get stuffed 7-2 at Carlton Town and had a decent following here as well. Arsenal were chalking up another victory in the Premiership this time against Norwich City on the big screen. Watching the game with a nice cool pint was a great way to relax after the long walk from the train station. I headed out to the ground at just gone 2.15 ish just after Arsenal had scored their second goal. Elsewhere a shock was going on in the world of football; Celtic were actually winning away at Inverness Caledonian Thistle although they did have the help of another dubious red card for the hosts.
Today's entrance fee was a very reasonable £6. The programme came in at £2 and was slightly disappointing with most of it being adverts and standard Evo stick fact pages. Because i quite like Lincoln United i bought a raffle ticket but as normal won bugger all. I had a stroll around the ground and took a few snaps. Quite what this scale model of Boston Uniteds new stadium was doing inside Ashby Avenue is anyones guess.
The new York Street
What with City being away quite a few fans had flocked to watch United. Also in the ground was the battle hardened head steward on the Stacey West stand Mr Gary Radford who also lends his skills to Lincoln United from time to time. We had a bit of a chat about the Imps and how David Holdsworth is rebuilding the Imps squad and the off field financial problems at Sincil Bank.
As kick off approached i ambled over to the old covered stand to take in the first part of the match. Before the game a representative of the Evo Stick league presented Terry with his manager of the month award. Terry is one of my favourite City players of all time and its great to see him having success as he cuts his teeth in management. When you take into account the fact that he is a player-manager and starts most games it makes his achievement all the more impressive. Listening to folk who watch United regularly it does seem as if there has been a feel good factor around the club since Terry took over. He had got the side playing good passing football on the deck and brought everybody at the club closer together. After every home game players have to go into the clubhouse and have at least one drink with the fans before the leave (It doesn't have to be alcoholic) John Beck did this exact same thing with the Lincoln City side when he was manager in the mid nineties when he was building the whole "Team Lincoln" mindset. Terry was John Becks midfield enforcer and he looks like he is learning from the great man.
United started the game the much better side and were causing the Shepshed back four problems with their pace. It only took Lincoln 9 minutes to get on the score sheet when Tom Garrick collected a pass halfway inside the Shepshed half, ran at the defence, easily beat the full back, and blasted home from close range. It was a fine goal and no more than United deserved. This did seem to wake Shepshed up a little and they created one or two half chances of their own.
Then just as they were looking to get back into the match the visitors conceded a clumsy and blatant penalty when one of their defenders bundled over the Lincoln striker in the box right in front of the referee who pointed straight to the spot. Scott Coupland stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to double Uniteds advantage.

That was in the 32nd minute and it was the last significant action that Mr Keith Lawson our match referee  would partake in this afternoon. Shortly after this he injured himself and was unable to continue. At this level there isn't a fourth official present so the hunt was one to find somebody in the crowd willing to become a linesman and thus allowing the senior linesman to take over the refs job. In the end a volunteer was found and the game continued. I overheard somebody saying that you could continue the game with two officials. weather this is true or not i have no idea. The last time a ref was injured in a Lincoln United match the game was abandoned and the club was hit with a £1000 pound fine (even though it was the ref who called it off). So it was understandable that the club were keen to continue. All of this added a good ten minutes or so to the length of the first half which didn't finish till just before 4pm. United really upped the pace and looked to kill the game off and missed some fantastic chances to do this. Although it has to be said that this was down to some fantastic last ditch defending from Shepshed who cleared a couple off the line as well as putting in some great last ditch tackles. They certainly have a lot more fight and spirit in them than the last time i saw them. They were also given good backing from the twenty or so fans who had made the trip from Leicestershire with them.
United went in at the break with a two goal lead but it could and should have been more. The original ref sat between the two dugouts with his foot up on a chair. And was looked after by United's charming lady physio. You see there are some benefits to being injured. It was later confirmed that it was a calf injury that had forced the ref to be unable to continue.
Do not bang on the cage!
Do not put your fingers through the cage!
Do not feed the animals!
At half time I checked out the rather sparse looking clubshop and picked up a mug for a quid. It had started to turn a tad chilly so i made my way over to the clubhouse to check out the halftime scores. Unsurprisingly City were 1-0 down at Wrexham. The second half didn't get underway till about 4.15 ish so i was able to watch some of the live scores come through on Soccer Saturday.
HT 2-0
After watching the first half i am pretty sure that nobody in the ground would have predicted what was to happen in the second half. The game opened up and both keepers made fantastic saves. Shepshed really got their act together and looked a force from set pieces. United continued to miss some great chances and it would come back to haunt them big time.
Dynamo got a goal back in the game in the 75th minute when Stephen Chaplin fired in a low effort from inside the area. This gave the massed ranks of fans away fans belief that they could get something out of a game that had looked like running away from them. The visitors penned United back in the closing stages and got the equaliser in the 87th minute when united failed to deal with a corner and Iain Screaton pounced. It was a sickener for United but far worse was to come in the 90th minute.
A long range shot was tipped onto the post by the United keeper Shepshed hit the follow up against the bar only for the rebound to be bundled into the net by Stephen Chaplin for his second of the game. So from being second best for much of the game Shepshed had somehow gained three points. An outcome that i am sure even their most die hard fans would have said was highly unlikely at halftime. Football's a funny old game as they say. Although the goalscorers will get all the praise, it has to be remembered that had the defenders not pulled off some last ditch goal line clearances and tackles then the great fight back wouldn't have happened. As for United well they learnt a harsh lesson. If you don't take your chances when you are on top it will come back to bite you on the arse.
FT 2-3
There was plenty of it on display today!
It had really turned cold by now and i really felt it on the long walk back to the City centre. Even with all the added on time. I still had time to grab a quick pint in the Treaty of Commerce pub on the high street near the station before grabbing the 6.27pm train back to Retford.
Today's game had everything; 5 goals, a penalty, an injury to the ref, and a fantastic comeback. Why can't football always be this exciting?

Adams sporting world results

Wrexham 2-0 Lincoln City
Thackley 2-0 Retford United
Inter Milan 2-1 Cagliari
Sheffield Steelers3-2  Nottingham Panthers(OT)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Greenwood Meadows 0-2 Ibstock United

Another sporting double in Nottingham today. East Midland counties league action (Step 6) in the afternoon as i took in Greenwood Meadows' clash with Ibstock United followed by the biggest match in British ice hockey. The Notingham Panthers v the Sheffield Steelers at the NIC. Mouthwatering i hear you say.

The day however did not get off to a great start. Over the last couple of days one of our Guinea pigs, Bumble had managed to get some hay stuck in his eye thus prompting an emergency trip to the vet. Thankfully the vet managed to remove the offending piece of hay and Bumble seems to be back to his old self, Eating,shitting rumbling,romancing the ladies etc etc.
Plan of attack today was to get the train to Nottingham then have a couple of quick beers before the match. Because of all the fun and games in the morning i was unable to find time to grab any breakfast. However the cafe at Worksop station came to my rescue. A large sausage cob and a cup of tea came in at £3.40 and was just what the doctor ordered. I can thoroughly recommend it to one and all. And best of all? I managed not to get any red sauce on my white Nottingham Panthers Jersey. The day was starting to look up already.
The train journey from Worksop to Nottingham was pretty uneventful. I arrived in Nottingham at just before 12.45 so i had plenty of time to kill. Today i had a range of games i could have attended. All of the riverside three were at home. (Dunkirk, Pelican and Greenwood Meadows) Elsewhere in the City, Hucknall, Carlton and Eastwood were all also at home. As its international weekend Nottingham Forest were without a game. Notts County were at home however as they hosted Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup first round and had dropped admission prices to try to get the floating fans in. Apart from London is there anywhere else in England where you have such a range of games to attend in such a small radius? Isn't Nottingham bloody brilliant?!
 The best pub near the train station and the bus stop I required for my journey, in my humble view, is the "Canalside" so i headed straight over to it. At first it was fairly quiet but after about 20 minutes or so the pub was invaded by a "Real ale tour" from Birmingham. Cue lots of strange folk taking pictures of the pub and much intense discussion on the quality of ale and quirkiness of the pub. My first thoughts was what a sad group of people but then again i suppose some folk would think watching a step 6 non league football match in the middle of November is a touch on the strange side, 'each to there own i suppose' i thought as i supped my lager watching the Grand Prix qualifying.
Last time I was out this way I went to watch Dunkirk, last time I got my timing all wrong and only just arrived in time for the kick off. This time i wanted to arrive a bit earlier to chill out and sample the pre match atmosphere. Unlike the last time i didn't have to wait to long for the number 48 bus to Clifton  and i alighted at the Clifton bridge north stop at about 1.50pm. There aren't any pubs anywhere near the ground so i hoped that the ground was open as the clubhouse is inside the turnstiles. As i made my way up to the ground i passed Bilborough Pelicans ground which showed few signs of life despite them being at home today.
As i approached Greenwood Meadows' ground i could see that there was already a game going on on the pitch. There didn't seem to be a great deal of life at the turnstile but soon enough a chap did appear to take my money and let me into the ground. Today it was £5 which is the same as step 5 Dunkirk just up the road. As you go into the ground the clubhouse is just infront of you and is elevated. There was a decent crowd in watching the youth game going on but i headed straight for the warmth of the clubhouse and a nice chill out.
Things got even better when i was able to get a pint and a club pin badge for less that a fiver. Horse racing was on the telly and all was well in the world. I decided to have a quick look outside at the ground and saw that the programmes had just arrived. I had read on various non league forums that due to low crowds Greenwood don't print to many programmes and it can be quite tough to get hold of one so it was a relief to bag one. If i visit a ground i have already been to i am not too bothered about getting a programme but i do like to get one from new grounds i visit.
Roll up Roll up!
A couple of things strike you in the clubhouse. Firstly the club is obviously home to a country and western club or something, pictures of various country and western nights, Jack Daniels posters and the "Stars and Bars" flag all grace one corner of the building.  The second is the clubs youth programme. Various youth league tables are pinned up on the walls and with most of the Greenwood sides being at the top ends of the tables. The food hut was doing a roaring trade as the youth players and their family's grabbed a bite to eat following the completion of their match. Much as i was tempted i didn't try any of the tucker as i didn't want to spoil my Kebab meat and chips before the hockey later on. I finished my pint and headed out to get some snaps of the stadium.
There are two covered stands and they are both on the same side of the pitch. Firstly you come to a covered stand that has a single long wooden bench in for seating. It may not be much but it gives plenty of cover and is tastefully painted in the club colours of dark green and white.
After this stand you come to the two dugouts again painted in green. They are a decent enough size as dugouts go i suppose. After the dugouts you come to the second covered stand which has about 30 blue plastic tip up seats in two rows fully covered and a small disabled section at the near end. Again the stand is fully covered and gives the best view of the action in the ground. There is hard standing around three sides of the ground with only the end nearest the clubhouse being off limits to spectators. All in all the ground is basic but is adequate for the clubs needs at this moment although there is plenty of room around the pitch if they want to expand.

However i get the feeling that expansion isn't on the clubs mind at the moment. Looking at stats on websites and local papers it seems that Greenwood Meadows struggle to draw the crowds in. A point backed up by the fact that with just over 20 minutes to go till kick off i seemed to be the only paying person in the ground. As kick off approached a few more had come into the ground. The official attendance was given out at halftime as 12 (twelve)  I am pretty sure that this is the lowest first team crowd i have ever been at. And of that number i would say that well over half had travelled with the visitors.
On the field things aren't going much better either as before kick off Greenwood sat bottom of the table with only two wins and seven points gained so far this season. The visitors from Leciestershire weren't that better off with only three wins and 13 points on the board. On paper it didn't look like being a classic and unfortunately that's the way it turned out. Before the game both teams underwent pretty tough warm ups and i got the impression that both saw this match as a chance to kick start their seasons and push up the table.
I stayed in the stand till just after the handshakes and kick off then took a stroll around the ground to take a few snaps of the ground and action on the pitch. The pitch itself was a tad cut up from the previous match which made passing football and controlling the football pretty tough. With all this its not surprising that both sides looked to play the ball long quite often. Ibstock started the game the better but failed to force the home keeper into many saves. Greenwood rallied a bit but most of the game were bogged down in midfield. It was the hosts who had the best chance of the game when they hit the post with a header at the clubhouse end. As halftime approached i trudged back round to the clubhouse for a pint and to get warm. I had a brief chat to the chap behind the bar about the match and we both agreed that it was a poor match between two poor sides and that it had 0-0 written all over it. Just as we said that i saw out the window that Ibstock did have the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside.
HT 0-0
The clubhouse end
As i supped my pint at half time i had a flick through the match programme. Again the youth side of the club takes centre stage with plenty of league tables and team pictures. The programme may not win any awards but it does the job. With gates like 12 its not surprising that the programme isn't one of the biggest issues in the league. The chairman's quiz is a nice feature however.
At halftime i made a quick call to Baz who was watching Retford United take on Scarborough (AKA the all Red Rudi funk express) At Cannon Park it was also goalless but i would imagine that it was a hell of alot better than the fare on offer here. The players were a little late taking the field for the second half which gave me more time to gulp down my last pint. I trudged over to the seated stand to take in the second half and hoped that it got better.
In all fairness the game did pick up in the second half. Both sides started to try and get the ball down and play and the game opened up. As the game went on it started to get a bit niggley with both sides giving away free kicks. With about ten minutes to go and with the home side on the front foot a 50/50 challenge from a home player brought on a scuffle for which a player from each side was booked. It would have been easy for the ref to lose the game but despite what a couple of Ibstock followers thought i think he got it just about right when he booked a player from each side. Although the ref looked like he could handle himself and had a good game his two assistants were quite young  and maybe didn't have the conviction that they should have had at certain incidents.
A minute or so from the end Greenwood were reduced to ten men when their number 10 picked up a second yellow. For once i was stood quite near the incident and it looked harsh to me. Fair play to the lad and the Greenwood bench who took it on the chin. As he walked past me you could tell that he was gutted. Had he not been already booked i doubt the ref would have shown him the yellow again.
From the resulting free kick Ibstock fired it towards the back post and it was headed home. Ibstock celebrated as if they had won the league while the Greenwood players looked well and truly gutted. Football can be a cruel game at times and it was hard not to feel sorry for Greenwood. Yes they had been short of quality but they had run their socks off in the second half. Ibstock added another with the last attack of the game to give the scoreline a one sided look. Fair play to the visitors who took their chances well but the result doesn't tell the full story in my view. I am sure that if Greenwood Meadows continue to plug away results will pick up. If only they could get a few more through the turnstiles. The club seems to be thriving at youth level, lets just hope some of that rubs off on the first team, and the club gets a slice of luck because they didn't get any today.
After the final whistle it was back into the centre of Nottingham for Ice Hockey!
To be continued as they say.

It would appear the ability to read is lacking in Ibstock

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Lincoln City 2-1 Barrow AFC

Today we needed to see a response from the club, players and the fans. After the cup defeat at the hands of Alfreton Town on Tuesday night morale amongst Lincoln fans has really hit an all time low. The news that the club is looking at another round of redundancies amongst non playing staff due to the the poor financial situation has also cast a long shadow over Sincil Bank this week. After every defeat we keep asking ourselves have we hit rock bottom yet and just when we think we have, we manage to sink to a new low.

I spent the morning of the match in the centre of Lincoln helping to promote a newish Taekwondo school that has just opened in Lincoln. Well when i say promoting it i stood there holding up a huge placard and handing out free lesson vouchers to the good folk of Lincoln. If there are any Lincoln based people reading this and are looking to get fit, learn self defence or just try a new sport then Lincoln Taekwondo is just the thing for you. Master Simon Stockdale runs the classes at the Strike zone Dojang on at 45-48 croft street on Monday nights from 6.30-7.45 pm. There is a good number of black belts so good tuition is guaranteed all for only £5 a lesson. There is also a very good chance you will see the scribe of the humble blog training there as I look to get my martial arts career back on track after a two year break. If you want anymore information then just check out the website here. And remember you are never to old to start!
Myself when i was slightly slimmer, fitter, quicker etc etc 
After a couple of hours of that lark it was off down to Sincil Bank, via McDoanlds to pick up the Imps 3rd kit. I won't be wearing it for a while though, as it is to be a Christmas present but I wanted to make sure I bagged one of the "limited edition" shirts before they sold out. It is actually one of the smartest shirts we have had for a while. For those who haven't seen it it is the same design as the home kit but in blue and black so not only do Lincoln have the same kit suppliers as the great Inter Milan but we also have the same colour combination and yes Inter are having a crap season in the league as well! I am not sure how many games we will actually wear the shirt in though as I can't think of  a team that our green and white hooped shirt would clash with. Which makes you wonder why the club released it in the first place. For me the fact that I can purchase another Lincoln City strip; giving the club much needed revenue, and not look like a Celtic fan is good enough reason for me. This is the third time on the trot that the third shirts are better than the away kits in my view. I have got one of last season's red third kits that the club auctioned off on Ebay. None were available for sale and only about 40 were made. And the player whose shirt I have? None other that the Lincoln legend that is Shane Clarke. I have never wore the shirt out as I don't want to risk damaging such a rare item. Not to sure if the value will rocket up over the years but its still a nice shirt.
After I collected the shirt I took a walk back up the high street to the George and Dragon and had a couple of pints watching the Newcastle v Everton match on the TV. Then i had a couple more in the trust suite. A good number of Barrow fans had made the long journey down for the match and they seemed in good spirits. One person who hadn't made the trip however was Baz who was enjoying a trip down to Legoland. Whether this is a good enough reason to miss an Imps match will be decided by the Retford Imps judge and jury panel on our next away match. (Or the kangaroo court as Baz calls it.)
Fancy joining us at football Darth Oxby?
One ray of light at Sincil Bank over the past few days has been the transfer dealing of Imps manager David Holdsworth. Goalkeeper Paul Farman has arrived on loan from Gateshead and winger Conal Platt has joined on loan from Cambridge United. Both have signed till January the 1st. Former Sheffield Wednesday, Hull City and Scunthorpe United Centre back Richard Hinds has penned deal till the end of the season. All three were in the starting line up and all three performed very well.

I know its very early days but David Holdsworth does appear to very well organised and prepares his side very well. Two things that have been in very short supply in recent years. The manager had the squad training on the pitch at 12.30pm practicing set plays both for and against and other drills. He had also set new standards for the players codes of conduct. Players now have to wear suits on matchday instead of tracksuits and have been banned from "tweeting" and wearing headphones on matchday. David Holdsworth has come across as a disciplinarian who wont put up with any crap. All of this is most welcome and something we have badly lacked. It all brings back memories of how John Beck went about his work. And he didn't turn out to bad for us did he?
Holker Street. Home of AFC Barrow
It wasn't too long ago that we played the reverse fixture in Barrow when they defeated us 1-0 on a cold Tuesday night. On that night they looked a well organised side but didn't have much of a cutting edge.
Lincoln started this game brightly and were quick out of the blocks. Lincoln were actually playing with a confidence which belied our lowly league position.
City opened the scoring in the 20th minute when new boy Platt played a great through-ball on the ground which Sam Smith got on the end of and knocked it pass the advancing keeper. Two minutes later Lincoln doubled the lead when Hurst in the Barrow goal half cleared a John Nutter cross, it fell to Jean Francois Christophe who chipped home a great effort from 25 yards out. All of a sudden the doom around the Bank was lifted. I was texting Baz down at Lego land and his reaction to missing what was turning out to be a good Lincoln performance? Short but sweet "FFS!"
City kept up the tempo and dominated most of the first half. Barrow didn't create much and Lincoln with Hinds marshalling the back line looked alot more solid from set plays which has been our weak spot for a number of years.
HT 2-0
Although City didn't quite match their first half performance  they still looked the more likely to score. Smith, Perry and Platt all had decent efforts saved. Lincoln's cause wasn't being helped much by the ref. I don't normally criticise refs but City had three decent shouts for a penalty turned down. In the last 15 minutes or so Lincoln started to tire and Barrow came into it a little more. It was a bit of a surprise when the board showed 5 minutes were to be added at the end. Barrow scored in the 4th minute of this when a free kick was pumped into the box brought down and finished well by Mike Person. This kept up Barrow's record of scoring in every match they have played this season.
FT 2-1

In my humble view 2-1 doesn't really tell the full story. I haven't been able to say this much but City played really well today. All three new faces fitted in well and we looked more likely to score that we have for much of the season. I know it doesn't really say much but i feel that this is the best we have played this season and i left the ground felling better than i have done for a long while.
The over the last few years we have had Peter Jackson who maybe sometimes over hyped things in his post match interviews, Chris Sutton whose post match reaction sent you to sleep. Then we had Steve Tilson who to be blunt, talked a load of bollocks. Therefore its both pleasant and refreshing to hear Mr Holdsworth's post match views. Again it is early days but he does appear to talk sense compared to what we have had to put up with recently. He made the point that the players need to be fitter and sharper. City don't have a game next week so in his words the players will "Learn how to be fit" Its obviously not a great thing to be out of the cup but at least we are going to be using the time off to good effect.

After a good Lincoln performance i decided to celebrate long and hard into the night. I dont know how my bladder would cope if City went on a decent run. I really need to have a word with myself because i dont want to feel as rough as i did this morning and last night. Its also not a great idea to spent £5 on a large mixed kebab only to go and spew it up half an hour later in the bathroom.
I was highly delighted to see Terry Flemming win the manager of the month this week. So much so that i decided to phone Gav to tell him the good news; at about 12.40 in the morning, sorry about that mate. I really do need to have a word with myself. :-p
Terry Flemming. Evo stick South manager of the month for October.

Adams sporting world results

Lincoln City 2-1 Barrow AFC
Genoa p-p Inter Milan 
(Due to flooding in Genoa)
Hall road Rangers 1-2 Retford United
Cardiff Devils 3-1 Nottingham Panthers
Nottingham Panthers 3-2 Fife Flyers (Shoot Out win)
Pittsburgh Steelers 20- 23 Baltimore Ravens

Friday, 4 November 2011

Frickley Athletic 1-1 Buxton FC

A trip to one of my favourite non league grounds was on the agenda for tonight. An Evo Stick premier division match (Step 3) between Frickley Athletic and Buxton. Having already watched Lincoln play Alfreton twice in the past few weeks i knew i wouldn't be missing much and given our crappy FA Cup record i thought it would be a wise move to pass on it. I will be back at the "Bank" on Saturday as Barrow come to town.

Frickley play in South Emsall in South Yorkshire. The ground may not be in the nicest part of the town but it does have bags of character. Its a real old fashioned non league ground. Last season the club celebrated its centenary season and had this mural painted inside the ground to recognise it.
Tonight's admission was a very reasonable £8 and a further £1.50 for the programme. As its a club i like i even shelled out for a 50/50 ticket. The bar at Frickley is situated inside the ground, just to the right of the turnstiles as you enter. We had a nice pre match pint in there and the bar had a good number of both home and away fans in supping.
On paper the game didn't look like a classic. Frickley were 17th in the table with Buxton a place behind in 18th. We watched the match from the top of the Impressive main stand which gives you a pretty decent view of the action. The seats are all of the wooden bench style but cushions are available on request from the back of the stand. Former Imp Ollie Ryan (who has just returned from two months out with an injury) was playing up front for the hosts while Buxton also had former Imps in the squad in the form of Martin Pembleton and Spencer Weir-Daley.
To be honest for the most part this was a poor game. Frickley missed a good chance in the opening minute and were made to pay for this on 8 minutes when Mark Reed rose unchallenged to head home a corner for Buxton. What was especially disappointing about the goal from Frickley's point of view was the fact that Buxton had tried a pretty much identical corner routine just moments before which they failed to deal with convincingly. This was also the 100th goal i have seen this season so to honour this fact i treated myself to a chip buttie from the snap hut for £1.50. And very nice it was too!
The goal seemed to settle Buxton down and it was they that played the better football. There wasn't a huge amount of passing football going on but what there was was being played by the visitors. Frickley's best moments came from the runs made by Ollie Ryan but they struggled to created any clear cut chances.
I checked out the clubshop at halftime which has a pretty impressive collection of programmes from league and non league clubs. There is a good range with quite a few Doncaster Rovers issues. Looking back through the programmes there are a few from the mid 80's; a time when Frickley were in the Gola League, the fore runner to the current Blue Square Premier division. I would say that Frickley's Tech5 Stadium is way better than grounds like Braintree and Alfreton. Will they ever get back to that level again?

The second half was worse than the first. It never really got going and it looked like the game was petering out until Mark Gray smashed home a quality finish from just outside the box and beat the Buxton keeper with sheer power. It was the only moment of real quality in the entire match.
After the goal both sides had chances to win it but a draw was a fair result in the end. On the way back our A1 curse raised its head again as we discovered that it was shut and thus had the pleasure of traveling back through the centre of Doncaster.

Elsewhere it was a dreadful night for Lincoln City. After going 1-0 up we somehow managed to piss it away and lost 1-2 at home in the FA Cup reply to Alfreton Town. This means that the name of Lincoln City Football Club will not be in the first round of the FA cup for the first time since the 1924/25 season.

This means the the Imps have a week off next Saturday. (Some would say we have been off for about 4 seasons now) Knowing LCFC as i do i had planned for this eventuality. Next Saturday i will again have another sporting day in Nottingham with Greenwood Meadows v Ilsbrook United in the afternoon followed by the biggest match in British Ice Hockey in the evening. The Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers.  And the best thing about it? Lincoln aren't playing so they can't darken my mood by losing! Ever cloud has a silver lining and all that.
The next new ground for the Mind of an Imp blog.