This was the Imps final preseason game of the year thus making it the last time for 11 months you had the chance to watch the Imps stress free and not giving a rats arse about the result. The Imps opponents today were the crowd pulling west midlands footballing giants of Walsall. Apart from being the final chance for the Imps management to cast an eye over a couple of trialists and fine tune things for the season opener at Wycombe this coming weekend this game was also Lee Beevers testimonial game with funds raised from the game going to the popular Imps (and former) Walsall defender.
And speaking of popular Imps defenders, it would be wrong of me not to mention the man who was in the opposition dugout. Walsall manager Jon Whitney was at part of the great 97/98 promotion team and was a huge figure during the reign of John Beck from 95 to 98. Jon was a hard as nails left back who flattened many a fancy winger during his time at Sincil Bank. The guy was the epitome of the fighting spirit of the Imps in that era. Jon joined the club in October 95 and was a part of the side that kicked and fought their way to safety that season.
I was in my late teens between 95-98 and at the age when we are most impressionable, and it is that era that remains my favorite as an Imps fan. I (and many other Imps fans) were gutted when Jon was transferred to Hull City halfway through the 98/99 season, a move that still makes no sense almost 20 years on. Its fair to say John Beck has his fair share of critics but several of his players from that time have gone on to make capable managers Jon Whitney at Walsall, Gareth Ainsworth at Wycombe, and Terry Flemming who has worked at a respectable level in non league football. Beck was clearly an inspiration to many of his troops.
Sadly even the presence of Imps legends past and present were not enough to get my fellow Retford based Imps along to the game. This is even more shocking given that the admission was a very reasonable £10 and it was pay on the gate. Oh well, they missed a decent enough game (for a preseason game) and racked up the Part Time Twat Points into the bargain.
|My fellow Retford Imps take their seats for the big game.|
Its been a while since i saw the Imps. In fact i hadn't seen the first team since the 1st preseason game at Lincoln United. Since then the Imps have been on a tour in Portugal where they lost to Benfica B 1-3 and beat Millwall 1-0. Since arriving back in the UK they have lost 2-3 at home to Peterborough and beaten Nottingham Forest U23s 4-3. The club also played host to Manchester United's youth team when they took on the Imps youngsters. I missed this game and due to Felice attending earned my first part time twat points of the season. The fixture has a special place in Felice's heart as he has a soft spot for Manchester United and even wore his vintage Mark Hughes replica away shirt from the year the Red devils won the European Cup Winners Cup. Its a bit snug now though mind.
I always like to attend at least one Imps home preseason game. For me its a chance to get reacquainted with all things Lincoln City before the season starts for real. The routine was pretty much the same as normal. Pre match pints in the Anchor, followed by a visit to the Back of the Net Chippy. It has to be said BOTN is a fantastic chippy and a must visit for a Saturday home game.
|Proper Fishcake, chips and peas. Yours for a bargain £2.30|
Although i have been in there plenty of times i didn't know that the owners of the place use to live in Florida. This only came about as they spied my Florida Gators T-Shirt. We chatted briefly about the Gators then a went on my merry way. I was tempted to do the "Gator Chomp" but i thought better of it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this sporting tradition here is a quick video to help you out.
On to the game. I have to be honest here it wasn't really much to write home about. The main point of interest being the appearance of a couple of trialists for the Imps. This is a tad out of the ordinary as you would expect the final pre season game is the one where you would play much of your first choice 11 ready for the opening match of the season. I do not feel there is any need to panic however. Danny Cowley is renowned for taking his time in getting recruitment right and taking the time to get the right players in.
The first half was pretty much a non event. The Imps managed to contain their league one opponents without really creating anything else at the other end. The high point of the game has come at the end of the game when the two teams formed a guard of honor for Lee Beevers as he walked out and greeted the 2,300 plus who has come to show their respect for a player who has never let the Imps down when wearing an Imps shirt in his two spells at the club.
The game did finally liven up in the second half thankfully. Walsall made a much better start to the second half than their hosts and took the lead after some poor Imps defending. Over the course of the preseason the Imps have been shipping more goals than i would like but hopefully this will all be sorted when the rumored new centre-back arrives this week.
On the hour mark the obligatory raft of changes were made by both sides and after all these the Imps started to look more of a threat going forward. They equalized when Josh Ginnelly crossed for Nathan Arnold to head home.
In a throw back to last season Lincoln hit the winner in added time when Sean Raggett headed home when his header hit the post and went in following a corner. The biggest cheer of the afternoon however came when Lee Beavers was brought on for the last couple of minutes. Beevers is still in rehab following his injury but it was great to see him be able to play a small part in his big day and although you could tell it was painful for him to run he was still quicker than 90% of people reading this blog.
So there you have it. Preseason is over the now the action for real begins. I haven't gone into to much detail on the players performance in this game (or the other friendlies) as i have never felt that preseason is the time to pass judgment. There will be plenty of time for that over the next nine months.
So on to Wycombe and my 23rd season watching Lincoln City. A full complement of Retford Imps is expected at Adams Park for the trip to a ground i haven't visited with Lincoln since 1998 (a 1-4 defeat incidentally).
|Coming to a League 2 ground near you during 2017/18|
Part time twat league standings after the conclusion of preseason.