Cat fact of the day. Most female cats are right pawed while most male cats are left pawed.
The Lincoln derby is always one of the main high points of the pre season. I have long been of the view that this game should always be the first game that the Imps play and this game simply backed my view up as well over 1200 supporters made their way to Ashby Avenue to watch this celebration of Lincoln football.
Lincoln United was the first venue that i watched a non league football game at way back in 1998 where they took on Whitley Bay in what was then the Unibond League. I don't remember much about that night. All that i can remember was that the ground layout was pretty much the same as it is today and that it was bloody cold (which was the total opposite of the weather today) I think United won that night as it was a time that the club were very much on the up but i can't be sure nor can i be arsed to look it up.
I almost didn't make this match at all. Unbeknownst to my good self till the evening before the game, there was industrial action being undertaken by the staff on Northern trains (the train company that runs the service between Retford and Lincoln) over the weekend. There was a replacement bus service was in operation which, although being a pain in the arse, would allow me to get there. Getting back would have involved getting the train to Doncaster, then the Doncaster to Retford train which was far too much messing around for myself but thankfully i grabbed a lift with a former work mate who helps out with stewarding duties at United. The staff at Northern rail were not the the only ones on strike today as there was a no show from Felice Del Colle of all people but more about that later.
Arriving quite early gave me chance to soak up the atmosphere and also appreciate the planning that United had put into this day. For those that dont know Lincoln United normally attract a crowd of between 80-150. It has been well documented the rise is interest in Lincoln City following last seasons title win with over 5,500 season tickets sold and with this in mind tickets were on sale in advance for this fixture. Ashby Avenue holds 2,200 and 1,200 tickets had already been sold before the day. Add into the mix that there was cricket match on the pitch next door and the residential area surrounding the stadium then you can see how this presented United with a huge logistical challenge that they not only met but excelled at.
The club were well prepared. The club house had been set up so that drinks were easily and quickly obtained and another bar was also placed outside which on a hot sunny day was most welcome. Programmes were onsale as you approached the ground so nobody could complain on missing out on one. This may not have been a full United issue but many clubs dont issue at all for pre season games so another pat on the back to United for that.
Aside from being the Imps first game of 2017/18 it was also the first day in the Retford Imps Cataday crew part time twat league championship. Away from this game the Imps youth team took on Rossington Main. Mr Barry Oxby attended this game thus avoiding being given any PTTPs Amer and Lee failed to attend either as did Felice as i believe he was spending all day looking at cat pictures on the internet and trying to count how many European cups/champions league titles Juventus are behind Inter.
It was well publicized in the media that the Imps were going to play 2 teams in this match.One in the first and one in the second and thats exactly what we got. This kind of practice is common in early pre season games and it gives all the players the chance to get minutes under their belts after over a week of training without a game. The Imps have (at the time of writing) only made 3 signings with the most eye catching being former Mansfield and Birmingham striker Matt Green, and it was Green who gave the Imps the lead when he headed home a cross from trialist Brandon Otterwill on 12 minutes. United had knocked the Imps out of the Lincolnshire cup last year but a repeat of that result was already looking very unlikely.
City doubled their lead on 15 minutes when Alex Woodyard, fresh from signing his new deal at City, sent in a cross to the back stick allowing Green to score his second and put the game beyond United. The Imps got there 3rd on 22 minutes when trialist James Rowe fired in a low shot from just outside the box and it was beginning to look like city would be running up a cricket score. To United's credit they did buckle down and worked really hard to contain City without really looking likely to score themselves. It did feel like City could score whenever they wanted to. The Imps hit the woodwork, missed a few chances and found United keeper Jake Turner in fine form but generally looked very comfortable for all of the 1st half.
The second half followed the pattern of the first really with the Imps making (and missing) chances with United working their socks off to keep City honest. The Imps did add a 4th near the end through Nathan Arnold to round off the scoring and send the Imps fans in the crowd home happy.
Its hard to draw any conclusions from this from a City angle. From the trialist perspective i would have though that the Imps management team would need to see them up against a side a little higher up the footballing pyramid before they make a judgment on them especially the ones in defensive positions who had very little to do. Not of them made any huge blunders but likewise not will have cemented a deal on this display.
Over the next week both of these sides will be in action in the prestigious Lincolnshire County Cup. United host Boston while City travel to Gainsborough Trinity. Given that the Imps first team will be in Portugal the Lincoln team is expected to be made up of youth team players. This shouldn't deter Imps fans from making the short trip over though as its always a good away day and its a chance to see the Imps stars of the future.