Hayes and Yeading 1-2 Imps

Big game wasn’t it?

Yep. With Hayes and Yeading snapping at our heels a win was needed. And the Imps, by and large, stepped up. A fairly even first half gave way to an onslaught from the Londoners at the start of the second. Joe Anyon made two high quality saves to deny Luke Williams and then unloved ex-Imp Jamie Hand.

Jefferson Louis gave the Imps the lead after a goalkeeping howler from Steve Arnold. Hayes quickly equalised from a Pele header but debutant Tom Miller restored the Imps lead with a header.

Did they deserve the win?

Hmm. Debatable. What matters is, they got it.

What was the ground like?

Hayes and Yeading are currently ground sharing at Woking while their home undergoes a makeover. Woking’s Kingfield Stadium can be described as “properly non-league”. No seats, friendly staff, decent food (!) and a crowd so quiet you could hear every word that came out of Joe Anyon’s mouth as he berated his defence again and again. It’s possible that the official gate of 327 is the lowest Lincoln have ever played in front of in a league game. Presumably, when Woking play there it’s a little more atmospheric.

Man of the match?

Joe Anyon. It was a game of two keepers. Ours made superb saves that kept us in it, theirs gifted Jefferson Louis a goal.

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Kettering 1-0 Lincoln – Same Old

“We always beat the Lincoln, we always beat the Lincoln” was the chant from the Dale Roberts Terrace at Nene Park yesterday and although not strictly true (we did draw one of our cup games against them in 2008) it was pretty much on the money. Kettering are a team that has Lincoln City’s number, even in their current cash strapped form. Here’s a few thoughts I had on the game:

1. We shouldn’t have lost.

Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t great and spurned chance after chance despite having more of the ball in the final third. But Kettering offered little apart from their physicality. They fought for that clean sheet, but wouldn’t have scored but for…

2. The worst referee I’ve ever seen.

Actually, I’m being unfair. He wasn’t Uriah Rennie or anything. But still, pretty bad. His baffling decisions, the ‘penalty’ being the most obvious, ruined the game. His assistants weren’t much better either.

3. The penalty wasn’t a penalty.

Officially it was a handball in the box, but even the Kettering players seemed surprised. There was no appeal. If it was a penalty, it was only the man in black that saw it.

He had a chance to even up the scores towards the end, when Richard Pacquette was hauled down in the box but…no.

4. Visting Nene Park is weird.

It’s like visiting a friend’s old house when someone else has moved in. There are traces of the former owners (diamonds everywhere on the design, signs to the ‘RDFC club offices’) but everywhere else you look you’re reminded that they aren’t here anymore. ‘Kettering Town FC’ is emblazoned on every surface.

Having visited Rockingham Road for that memorable cup match three seasons ago it’s not hard to see why Imraan Ladek wanted to move the club to Nene Park. It’s modern, easy to get to, pleasant…even a bit atmospheric, everything their old ground wasn’t. Certainly this should be the model any club at the lower level looks to when they build a new stadium.

The drawback for Kettering is that it’s not in Kettering, it’s in Irthlingborough, six miles away. To most chairmen, this would be reason enough not to move. Not to Kettering’s intrepid, heroic owner though…

5. Everyone at Kettering hates Imraan Ladek.

At Lincoln, we were hating the egomaniacal Imraan Ladek before it was cool, but Kettering fans are finally on board the bandwagon. All he had to do was run the club into ground, move it away from the town it’s named after and fail to pay the players for months on end.

The campaign against Ladek is such that the turnstyle operators were handing out ‘Show Imraan Ladek the Red Card’ flyers and the PA announcer was encouraging everyone to turn up to a meeting of the Supporters Trust which, he stressed, had “nothing to do with Imraan”. When the people who work for you are in open revolt…you’re in trouble.

6. Whoever runs the PA picked some hilariously ironic songs…

“Price Tag”, “Money’s Too Tight to Mention”, “I Need a Dollar”…

Man of the Match: Joe Anyon made a couple of great saves. Otherwise…a real disappointment from the Imps. We need Alan Power back…

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Some thoughts on moving home

Since the injection of half a million pounds into the club by the board last week there’s been increased talk of moving away from Sincil Bank, not least from Chicken Bob himself. I’m broadly in support of the idea, but here’s some conditions any move would have to fulfil:

1. We must get a decent price for Sincil Bank.

I’m not an estate agent, but I can’t imagine the Sincil Bank site being worth that much to a potential buyer. It’s not in a great area of town, has poor access and there isn’t an immediately obvious post-football use for the land except housing. And as we know, the housing market isn’t doing very well at the moment.

2. Any new stadium must generate revenue on non-matchdays.

Now, unlike this bloke from Sheffield Hallam University, I don’t think Bob’s likely to build a 20,000 seat alienation-dome like Darlington’s appalling Reynold’s Arena or whatever it’s called. It’s clear the board want to follow Chesterfield’s example. The b2net stadium has space for all kinds of events, conferences, parties, wedding receptions etc, guaranteeing the club revenue year round and lessening their reliance on the numbers coming through the gates.

It’s not quite as clear cut as that though. Speaking to the BBC last season the Spireites chairman Barrie Hubbard said:

Hubbard would not be drawn on the difference in match-day revenue since the move, at least not in terms of actual figures, but he did concede that it had at least doubled. He was also at pains to point out that outgoings had also increased by more than 100%.

3. A new stadium must be in Lincoln, within walking distance of the city centre.

Whenever we used to have this discussion, the words “Lincolnshire Showground” used to come up. Moving outside Lincoln would be the death of the club. As a community club, LCFC must be in the community it represents. That leaves few potential sites, maybe this brownfield land on Beevor Road behind B&Q might fit the bill. Otherwise we’re looking at somewhere like this brownfield site near Hykeham, for instance. Not so good.

4. The new stadium must include a ‘Stacey West Stand’.

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Imps 2-0 Southport

After the absolute low point in club history last Tuesday, the Imps have spent the past week begging our forgiveness and promising to do better.

Who’d have thought they’d actually follow through with their promise? An Imps side went to Gateshead at the weekend and came back with the most unlikely of points and on Tuesday night they put in an assured, solid performance to beat 8th place Southport.

The Imps opened the scoring in the 7th minute from Jean-Francois Christophe’s header from an excellent John Nutter cross and probably should have been up by more at half time.

Richard Pacquette scored Lincoln’s second with a stunning drive from outside the box, his third goal in his first three games for the club.

Southport came back into the game in the second half, but Joe Anyon proved equal to everything the visitors could throw at him.

The one bad note for Lincoln was the withdrawal of Sam Smith in the second half. The forward limped off after a robust challenge and will almost certainly face time on the sidelines.

The pluses:

Richard Pacquette is a hell of a find, looked at home at this level, caused absolute chaos playing off the last man and scored an absolute screamer of a goal.

A clean sheet, only the fifth of the season. We looked, generally, defensively sound until the last 5 minutes or so when even the cool headed Josh Gowling looked stressed.

Joe Anyon. How many saves did he make? Five? Six? Played well, really well.

We played well without the suspended Alan Power. He’s not all we have.

Minuses:

A nervy last few minutes. We seem to have problems closing a game out.

Very low crowd.

Man of the Match: I’m going to give this to Richard Pacquette, purely for that memorable goal.

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In Affectionate Remembrance

In Affectionate Remembrance

Of

LINCOLN CITY FC,

WHICH DIED AT COLSTON AVENUE, CARSHALTON

ON

18th JANUARY, 2012,

Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances.

R.I.P.

N.B. – The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Grimsby.

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Imps 0-0 Carshalton Athletic – Purple Pain

Carshalton Athletic currently lie 14th in the Ryman League Premier Division table, behind footballing powerhouses like the Metropolitan Police (no really) and East Thurrock United. Their last home game attracted a crowd of just 208. They are also part-timers, combining their football with dayjobs. Lincoln City, meanwhile, are full time professionals who play every week in front of thousands. It’s the glory of the FA Trophy that teams like these two are brought together. But the casual observer at Sincil Bank on Saturday would have been hard pushed to tell which was which.

Carshalton, in an all purple kit best described as ‘brave’, formed the traditional ‘tough to break down’ defensive unit, but also managed to escape forward and threaten the Lincoln goal, hitting the post once and forcing Joe Anyon to make a couple of saves in the first half.

The Imps, on the other hand, looked like an experimental team filled with trialists playing a friendly. There was no cohesion, no sense that they were a team in any real sense of the word. Conal Platt and new signing Paul Robson literally ran into each other on a couple of occasions down the right wing. The wingers kept putting crosses into the box after it’d been conclusively proved that the Imps posed no aerial threat at all.

It was Alan Power who proved to be the Imps only real threat. On as a half time substitute he immediately set about running at the Carshalton defence, setting up Simon Russell for a poorly taken shot, then winning a free kick on the edge of the area.

It was a game of few chances until the closing stages when a clearance from an Imps corner found Power on the edge of the box. The Irishman’s shot crashed against the bar, ending the Imps’ chances of progression. 0-0 then, and the Imps were booed off after another low in a season of lows

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Imps 0-2 York – zzzzzzzzz

We always lose to Grimsby, we should ignore those games as a measure of where we are as a team. They were local derbies, they count for nothing. They wanted it more than us, of course they did. York, now that’s the real game. The real test. They’re on a bad run of form, we might just get something from it. You never know…

The optimism of a Lincoln City fan is quickly dashed. Playing spoiling tactics in the first half, we managed to turn this game into an attritional midfield battle. It was shut down as a contest to such an extent that neither side managed to put a shot on target in the first forty five minutes.

York’s class began to tell in the second half though. A poor clearance from Tony Sinclair fell to Matty Blair. Minutes later it was Blair again whose head was on the end of a cross. 2-0. Game over.

There was, however, to be some late controversy. Lincoln were denied two penalties. One for a handball by former Imps captain Scott Kerr and then, most blatantly, when Richard Parslow seemed to literally catch the ball in the box.

The story of the game, though, was summed up in the three minutes of added time when Alan Power finally had Lincoln’s first shot on target. Waiting until the 92nd minute to test the opposition’s keeper isn’t the way to win games.

Man of the Match: No performance stood out, again.

Moment of the Match: This was genuinely one of the most boring games I’ve ever been to. I was ready to leave after the 30th minute of midfield warfare. There must be something better I can do on a Saturday afternoon?

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