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Lincoln Report

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 08/08/2000

Lincoln Report

By Tony Butcher
29th July 2000

Paul Groves A warm, muggy day in old Lindum Town, with some flashes of lightning visible in the surrounding hills. Lincoln had put some seats in the stand they put us in last year so we were denied to opportunity to indulge in patronising remarks about quaint lower division practices, like standing. The seats were very dusty and covered in cobwebs, which is what happens when you have too many seats and too few fans. The grass was very green and very long. Perhaps too long even for Rugby. The ball travelled unevenly across the pitch and it was obvious that Lincoln were not interested in seeing a passing game. Black and Chapman were in danger of getting lost in the undergrowth.

The Town players limbered up in a familiar pre-match routine - arbitrary jogging, passing and autograph signing. The pre-match murmurs were all about the "big bloke over there". We could identify all but a tallish, dark haired man talking to Pouton. By a process of elimination we decided it must be Raven, despite Mr X looking nothing like Raven's photographs in the GET.

Town lined up in the two tone blue hoops in the usual formation as follows :- Coyne, McDermott, D Smith, Livingstone, Bloomer, Pouton, Burnett, Groves, Black, Allen and Michael Jeffery. Who? WHO? Much head scratching resulted in nothing more than "wasn't there a bloke called Jeffrey who once played for Newcastle a few years ago?". D Smith played at left back, Groves in midfield with Pouton on the right wing. Raven, Handyside, Gallimore, Donovan were all totally absent. The last two, of course, being now physically absent as opposed to their usual state of mental absence, but occupying a Town kit.

1st half

Lincoln (in an odd rugby type red and white quarters top and white shorts) kicked off towards the Town supporters at 3.05. They immediately kicked the ball out of play. Town then passed the ball out of play, allowing them the opportunity to hurl a long throw. Which they did, to the near post where their number 9, Cameron, glanced a header past Coyne (wearing a mustard yellow top, but playing like a lemon). Fortunately, the referee decided that Livvo had been fouled (dubious decision). Within the first 5 minutes Lincoln had got another two long throws into the 6 yard box, which caused Coyne to panic; and a corner, which resulted in a goal. The corner was taken from Town's left, swung to the far post, about 8 yards out. P SMITH was totally unmarked and steered his header between Bloomer and McDermott, who were on the line. Coyne had wandered 5 yards off his line and become stranded under the flight of the ball. In short (which he is), Coyne was nowhere near anything.

Town had done nothing of any note in the first few minutes, there was no urgency or organisation. It looked like a training game. Lincoln had only one aim in life - to win a throw in (or corner, if that failed). There was absolutely nothing else to their game. Basic Cambridge/Tranmere tactics. Of course, this is exactly the sort of game that makes Town crumble. The triumvirate of Livvo, Bloomer and Coyne were nothing short of disastrous when the ball was in the air, which is where Lincoln put it. I counted three free headers in the first half from which Town should have conceded (the headers were weak and ill directed). Apart from the disallowed goal, the goal, a couple of back passes, two over-hit through balls and one catch from a poor cross, Coyne didn't touch the ball in the first half. No shots saved.

Lincoln's centre forward, Gordon, was occasionally plain dirty. In the first couple of minutes he went in late on D Smith when clearing up the line, and also put in a couple of Fashanu-type challenges in the air. Livvo matched fire with fire, placing a forearm smash on the back of D Smith's neck during one challenge. Typically accurate aim from Livvo.

The game went into a bit of a lull after 15 minutes when Town started to gain control of the ball and passed it through and across the midfield. After about 30 minutes it started to rain, which is when Town really took control of the game and Lincoln hardly touched the ball thereafter. Town started to create half chances, Allen turned on the edge of the area and hit a firm right foot shot a couple of feet past the 'keepers left hand post. McDermott and Pouton played in Jeffrey behind the defence on the Town right. He got to the byeline and chipped a cross to Allen, about 10 yards out, whose header hit a defender and went slowly to the 'keeper. McDermott surged forward and, when 25 yards out, dropped his left, then right shoulder, sending the defender the wrong way. McDermott continued his run to the left, passed to Allen, who turned and slipped a superbly weighted pass inside the right back. Black clipped a cross to a yard or so beyond the far post, whereupon Jeffrey attempted to steer a header into the far corner. Unfortunately, he had to stretch for the header and couldn't get power or sufficient direction. It went straight into the arms of the 'keeper as he raced across his goal. Another Black cross, to Jeffrey at the near post resulted in Jeffrey hitting a poor first time shot 5 yards wide.

A minute or so before half time Town won a throw in about 10 yards from the bye line on the left. It was taken quickly and D Smith (I think, it may have been Black) passed to Jeffrey, who had set himself up in a position about 5 yards from the near post , near the bye-line. Jeffrey hit a first time reverse pass to about 15 yards out, level with the near post. GROVES sprinted in and whacked a first time shot into the net off the underside of the bar. A cracker - simply constructed and finished superbly.

Then it was half time. It had been a complete contrast to the Dundee game, with the pace slower and the competitive edge missing. Town were, yet again, playing down to the level of the opposition. Very little had been created, relying mainly on McDermott thrusts down the right and the occasional turn and pass on the edge of the area from Allen. Jeffrey had looked nothing special, but not useless. He showed a couple of moments of thought and control, though he didn't look to be an all action player. He appears to have some of the style of Lester and Woods (he ambles a bit and holds on to the defender when turning). A couple of times he drifted into good positions, but the pass was never released quickly enough. He doesn't have much pace and doesn't look to be a prolific goalscorer, more of a link player. Pouton looked faintly disinterested out wide and Burnett looked to be playing well within his capabilities - never sprinting, nor attempting long passes. He was content to keep the ball moving, playing neatly but unremarkably. Allen's control was mostly poor, but he still managed to look the most likely Town player to score. Until Groves did, of course

Half time

And then it was time for half time entertainment. This consisted of everyone fleeing the pitch as it started to rain, and rain, and rain, and rain. The rain had almost stopped when the half time whistle blew. 30 seconds later and there was a torrential rain storm, so hard was the rain that it was sometimes impossible to have a conversation. The rain was accompanied by fork and sheet lightning. The crowd ran up the stands to shelter and the referee kept sending out messages that they'll be out in a couple of minutes. The second half eventually started at 4.20.

2nd half

Bloomer and Allen were replaced by Coldicott and Clare. Groves reverted to centre back. Town dominated possession for most of the half, there being only a couple of 5 minute spells when Lincoln managed to welly it down the Town end and get a thrown in/corner, from which they kept winning more throw ins and corners. Town should have scored after about 10 minutes when Pouton surged across the middle and the ball was passed out wide to the unmarked Black, inside the penalty area. Black dallied a bit and overhit his cross to a yard beyond the far post where Jeffrey chested the ball wide. This may sound like a Jeffrey miss, but it was Black bad cross, Jeffrey did well to reach it and had no chance once he got there. Clare caused a few problems for the Lincoln defence when he nicked the ball off them from a Town clearance. He turned and ran a full 25 yards at the heart of the defence. With a player free wide on both sides, he managed to waste so much time stopping and turning (for no reason) that the momentum was lost.

In fact nothing much happened for 25 minutes. With 20 minutes or so left Town replaced Coyne, McDermott, D Smith, Burnett, Jeffrey and Black with Croudson, Butterfield, Chapman, A Smith, Allen and Buckley. For the next 5 minutes Town tore Lincoln apart and for the only time all afternoon looked a couple of divisions better. A Smith and Butterfield linked very effectively with Clare down the right, Pouton surged a couple of times down the middle (resulting in one 30 yard run at the centre of the Lincoln defence. He shot 15 yards wide from the edge of the box when he should have slipped a short pass wide to Clare). The best moment was when Allen collected a knock down 25 yards out, just to the left of centre. He turned and smacked a first time shot onto the angle of post and bar. It bounced onto the roof of the net for a corner as it had taken a slight deflection.

Buckley dribbled past one player, and almost by a second. The ball was half cleared to Chapman who fizzed in a low centre to the far post, where a Lincoln defender produced a theatrical diving header to clear for a corner. From another cross from the left (I think it may have been Buckley) Coldicott headed back and the shot from Allen was blocked by a diving defender. And then the excitement stopped. Lincoln whacked the ball down the Town end. Livvo fouled needlessly. The free kick was hacked in, and there followed a 5 minute spell off throw in/corner/throw in, during which Croudson produced a very good reaction save. A Lincoln player was unmarked about 12 yards out, just to the right of centre. He hit a low, first time shot to Croudson's left (as Croudson was racing across his goal to his right). Somehow Croudson diverted the ball past his right hand post for a corner. The first, and only, save made by a Town goalkeeper all day.

Lincoln had a couple of long range efforts which brought "ooooooohs" from their supporters, but went a couple of yards wide. They also had a free kick, about 20 yards out, to the right of the goal. Ideal position for their version of Kingsley Black, who kicked it just over the stand. I suppose that's what a two division gap in "class" brings. And that was about it as far as action goes. The peripherals were much more interesting. Why did the Lincoln 'keeper have no number or name, and why was he wearing a jersey almost the same colour as the Town tops? Why did a Town supporter insist on calling D Smith "Alvin Stardust". His hair is the same as Alvin's is now, but not in his hey day, my coochie-coo. The crowd was announced at 1,400 with the Town support very precisely stated as 227. Did that include the interloper at the home end? The end opposite us had about 15 people in, one of whom had a Town shirt on. We found it curious that Lincoln claimed 1,200 of their own supporters in the ground. There looked to be about 500-600 of them. Unless, of course, 500 were hiding inside because of the rain. Are they that soft in Lincoln? Well it is down south, I suppose.

There aren't many positives from the game, no-one particularly shone. The youngsters pepped up the game a bit for the last 20 minutes and proved that they are no worse than 3rd division players. But then, they shouldn't be anyway. It was very hum-drum, similar to last year's game there. I think we can take one thing from the game - Livvo and Bloomer should not be the centre back partnership against any team with strikers over 5 foot 6.

And yet again - Coyne, oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

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