Sunday, 16 July 2017

Gainsborough Trinity 4-1 Lincoln City

Cat fact of the day. A cats heart beats at almost double the rate of a human heart (typically between 110 and 140 beats per minute)

My second Imps game of 17/18 and another nice local one, this time a trip to Gainsborough Trinity  to see the Holy Blues lock horns with the Imps in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup. Sadly it was a no show from my motley crew of cat lovers and what a game they missed!  To be fair Felice had got his excuse for missing this in early as he was away on holiday. However given the fact he was in the UK meant that he could still have driven to watch this fantastic cup tie.I mean who can turn down the chance to watch cup football. Rumor Felice was practicing his dance moves just like Boss Hog in this short video clip

I realise  that the Lincolnshire cup may not be the biggest prize going but for me its still a step up from a normal bog standard friendly and i always look forward to the draw, and then the matches themselves. The competition format has chopped and changed over the years but i think the current format  is the best it has been. The competition was first played way back in the 1881/82 season when Spilsby defeated Brigg Town  in the final. The Imps won the competition for the first time in 1886/87 with Trinity's maiden win coming in 1889-90. In total Lincoln have won the cup on 38 occasions with Trinity having lifted the cup on 10 occasions,the last being in the 2002/03 season. Whoever won this tie would go on to play host to Grantham Town in the semi final. On the other half of the draw, holders Lincoln United had lost at home to Boston in midweek meaning the Pilgrims would face either Grimsby or Scunthorpe in the other semi.
Chips, peas and sausage £3
Program £2.50 

If the phrase "Traditional non league club" were to appear in the dictionary then i am sure you would find a picture of Gainsborough Trinity, and i am not meaning to be disrespectful. Gainsborough is a smashing club and have a ground that oozes tradition. At a time when grounds are slowly starting to look the same with identikit kit stands etc the Northholme still retains its charm. The club have been playing football here since the 1884 (although the ground was used for cricket as far back as the 1850's)  and up until 1912 they were in the Football League, until they were replaced by of all teams, Lincoln City.

For much of the past 50 years or so Gainsborough have always been in the second tier of non league football. Never relegated nor promoted, and also for years both on posters advertising matches  and over the PA the phrase "On the Northholme today" has been used, never "at the Northolme". Alas though, the ground has been named after a sponsor and thus this charming quirk seems to have ended. Another tradition that Trinity are famous for is the supporters club known as the Blues club. The club is another throwback with its darts, dominos, and dance evenings (which Felice has been known to attend). but it does a decent pint and it's a decent place for pre/halftime and post game drinks. I have been in the club a few times before but this was the first time i had ever visited the best room. In it lies a small cabinet full of club memorabilia with one item really catching my eye. That being a player pass for a certain B Oxby.

Gainsborough has its knockers and there are parts of the town that have seen better days but it is a place that is changing and seems to be caught between its past and future unsure as to which it prefers. The Town has a hell of a lot of history about it, a small snippit of which I learnt today; the crown on the club badge is a nod to the fact that the town was firmly on the side of the Royalists in the English civil war. Furthermore the area around Lea Road station was the scene of a Civil war battle which saw the Royalists routed. Just up the road from the station is a memorial to this battle, and the ground in the area is reputed to contain numerous bodies from the battle.
New Trinity badge £3. Note the crown on the crest.
Last season Trinity left it late before securing their Northern Conference status for the 2017/18 season. It was only a few years ago that the club were one win away from promotion to the Conference premier however they lost at home in the playoff final and things have never been the same since. Although it would be great to see the Blues get that long awaited promotion the odds are stacked against them. To put it bluntly the conference north is in my view one of the toughest leagues in England.
There was a time not to long ago that the likes of Southport, Boston and to a lesser extent Gainsborough were considered big fish in the non league world. Now though with the likes of former league clubs Stockport, York, Darlington along with sides with big budgets such as FC United of Manchester and Salford City plus clubs with decent support bases like Telford, and Kiddeminster you can start to see the challenge that Trinity face to retain their step 2 status. Of course football is an unpredictable beast and as we saw with Lincoln last season a good management team can go someway to counteracting big budget sides.

On to the game. Before the game i was firmly of the belief that Trinity would turn the Imps over today and that is pretty much how it panned out. Lincoln's entire first team are currently over in Portugal for some warm weather training and a couple of friendlies v Benfica B and Millwall (who they beat 1-0 today) This means that the youth side would be sent over to contest this game.  Now i fully realise that Lincoln have some decent prospects coming through the system however there is quite a step up from competing against players who are in their own level of development and battle hardened conference north players who are looking to put on a show in front of their own fans. Last weekend a young Imps side had gone down 5-1 at Rossington Main who play their football 3 leagues below Gainsborough, so today was a real test for the young Imps. Trinity have had a steady start to pre season with two away wins at Winterton and Frickly respectively each by the scoreline of 1-0.
Todays teams.

Gainsborough were quick out of the blocks and had the Imps on the back foot for much of the first half. The Holy blues were ahead on 4 mins when Alex Simmons fresh from being released by Lincoln cut in between the two Lincoln centre backs and fired into the roof of the net. I must admit I feared  for the Imps going behind early. Trinity kept on creating but not taking chances and with Lincoln unable to get out of their own half for much of the first 45 it seemed a case of when not if Gainsborough would add a second. The only surprise was that it took till the 38th minute and when it did arrive it came via the penalty spot as Ash Worsfold dispatched the spot kick after Tom Davie was adjudged to have been fouled. It was a tough call but probably just about the right one from where i was stood.

The Imps may have been second best for the first half but they competed much better in the second. As the game went on they started to take the game to Trinity and manged to force a few corners and half chances. On 72 it looked like they had got back into the game as they made it 2-1 thanks to the best piece of football they put together all match. Ellis Chapman chased down a seemingly lost cause down the left then crossed the ball in low for Kyle Watkins to fire past Trinity Keeper Richard Walton, who by the way is on a season long loan from Lincoln.

However the Imps joy was short lived. For much of the match Michael Antkowiak had a fine game in the Lincoln goal thwarting Trinity on many occasions. However on 77 he misjudged a freekick from Simmons  wide on the right, dropping the ball under no pressure. Things like this are hard on keepers and its always tough to see young keepers make errors like this but overall i think he can look back on his work this afternoon with pride. Its all character building as they say.  Trinity grabbed the final goal with virtually the last kick of the game when sub Bradley wells rounded Antkowiak to make it 4-1 and give the scoreline a one sided look.
Place all Grimsby Town and Sheffield Wednesday shirts here. 

Although they bowed out the Lincs cup there were positives for the Imps to take from this. At one point in the second half Lincoln's team consisted of  6 sixteen year olds, 4 seventeen year olds and one 18 year old on the pitch and just about managed to hold their own. These youngsters wont get to test themselves against players of Gainsborough's quality in the youth league so for them the experience is invaluable.

As for the hosts they did what they had to do. Alex Simmons looked sharp and i for one hope he has a good season. He didn't get much game time at Lincoln but never let anybody down in the games that he did play. This game may not have been the toughest challenge Trinity have ever faced but as the old saying goes you can only beat whats in front of you and they did just that. Over the next few weeks the Holy Blues host Rotherham, Mansfield, and Doncaster so we may get a better indication of where they are after those matches.

So all in all a pleasant day out. I haven't been to Gainsborough since the Imps visit in the previous pre-season but hopefully it wont be a year till i return. Trinity is always a fun day out and they are very much a club that tries to do things the right way. I can only wish them well.

The next challenge for the Imps youth team is a friendly away at Skegness Town on Friday night. As Skegness have a newish ground it will be a new stadium for us to tick off. All plans rely on Felice being allowed out however so the trip is far from confirmed. If you are desperate to know if we will be there so you can pose for selfies and ask us questions about cats etc follow you me on twitter @ferretimp for all the lowdown on our potential adventures.

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