Thursday, 25 October 2012

Lincoln City 0-0 FC Halifax Town

The  Football Association Challenge Cup. The oldest and most famous knock out competition in the world. Fans of all clubs have special memories of this famous old beast.  Be it giant killings such as Hereford United v Newcastle in 1970, or Colchester’s famous win over Leeds United in 1972 through to Ryan Giggs’ fantastic goal v Arsenal in the 1999 semi final replay.  Every club has its memories.
Unfortunately for myself my memories of Lincoln City are rather bleaker. As a club we are more often than not the side that gets beaten by lower ranked opposition, rather than doing a spot of giant killing ourselves. Since I have been following the Imps we have graced the 3rd round just three times; Crystal Palace away (1994/95), Sunderland home (98/99), and most recently our trip to Bolton Wanderers in 09/10.
However my most vivid FA cup memories are much more sombre affairs. Taking two games to scramble past Gainsborough Trinity in 1997/98 (after being totally outplayed in the first match) landed us with a home tie against Emley. A 97th minute equaliser from Terry Flemming earned us a replay and I remember listening in on the radio for updates from Huddersfield in the replay. The Imps went 2-0 up and were all set for a money spinning 3rd round tie at West Ham. We then fell 2-3 down, got it back to 3-3 only to lose on penalties. Other low points in the Cup include a keeper howler in the last minute to give then non league side Dagenham and Redbridge a 1-0 win at Sincil Bank in 2000/01. And more recently losing to Kettering Town in a replay at home under Jacko (whatever happened to them?) Not to forget last year’s two dreadful performances against Alfreton town.  As a rule of the thumb for Lincoln, the FA in FA cup really means the fook all cup.

Today’s opponents were FC Halifax Town who are going well in the Blue Square Northern Division this season which meant their confidence would be pretty high. As is normal with these kind of matches, the club only opened the Echo and Co-op stands and admission had been dropped to a very reasonable £12 in all areas. This gave us a rare chance to view the game from the side of the pitch. It’s a good few seasons since we went in the top tier of the stand so it made a nice change. It also gave us chance to check out the bar area beneath the stand that looks like it’s had a lick of paint since we were last in here. The club have moved some of the collection of classic City shirts that were in the Trust Suite and hung them on the walls in here. Although they do look quite smart and brings back some great memories the place still looks a little empty yet another sign of the club’s sad decline. Years ago when we sat in this stand regularly this place used to be packed but today it was like a ghost town with all but a handful of folk watching the Spurs v Chelsea match on the small TV screen.
Just like kids on a school trip, Baz and I made a mad dash to the back row of the stand. Felice had been shopping at Toys R Us and joined us later although he seemed disappointed that the Lego Helicopter that he has had his eye on for the last couple of weeks wasn’t in stock. Chin up mate I am sure Santa will bring you one for Christmas.

On the pitch however, Halifax were in no mood to give out any presents to the Imps. Although they set up in a quite defensive formation they looked to break out wherever possible and had the better chances in the first half. They were aided by some wayward passes from Lincoln who were very sloppy and failed to move the ball around quick enough.  Jamie Taylor has been the main man for goals this season however, lumping high balls up to somebody who is about 5’5” isn’t going to yield much success against three big centre halves. He was supported by Conner Robinson but he too was getting few chances from the Halifax backline. Adam Smith on the wing put in plenty of effort but often lost the ball when trying to beat one man too many.  For me it was pretty obvious what the pattern of the game was and it looked odds on that we would all be making our merry way over to West Yorkshire on Tuesday evening for a replay. As the first half drew to a close the boos in the crowd grew louder and left the natives wondering just how we had managed to slam four past Wrexham on their own turf last weekend.

The second half was better than the first. Ok it wasn’t hard to be an improvement but at least it was interesting with a slight chance of a goal. City had a little 10 minute spell in which we had an effort hacked off the line and were almost the benefactor of an own goal. The Halifax goal keeper was doing an awful amount of flapping and it looked as if one of his many handling errors may lead to a City goal but by hook or by crook he got away with them. After this little spell though, Halifax settled and if anything looked the more comfortable on the ball and they had a great chance to win it at the death when a cross was sent over to the back post but thankfully from a City point of view the ball was blazed over with just the keeper to beat.
So there we are. Our dreadful record in the FA Cup continues. Hopefully we will be at Halifax Tuesday evening and as a special incentive Baz has offered to make a trifle for us to consume en route. This is what football is all about my friends. Should we somehow find a way past our opponents Tuesday evening, another football powerhouse awaits us in the first round proper. Walsall at home is the prize for the victors.
Magic of the cup my arse.

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