A mass brawl on the pitch just before half time of Lincoln's 1-1 draw with Bury may well incur the wrath of the FA. City's Anthony Elding was sent off for an incident with Ryan Cresswell, although the Bury man only got a yellow card. This prompted a mass brawl involving a majority of the 22 men on the pitch. As Elding made his way past the Bury bench the incident started again, with members of the Bury coaching staff becoming embroiled in the fight. At one point stewards had to enter the playing field to separate the brawling players.
Referee Chris Sarginson had already lost control of a match City looked likely to win. Ben Wrights well taken goal had given the Imps the lead, and Bury had rarely threatened the Imps defence. Elding had already been booked for a challenge that Efe Sodje had made a meal of, a challenge in which Elding seemed to win the ball.
Following an innocuous tackle in the centre of the park, Cresswell appeared to wrestle Elding back to the ground. Whilst grounded Cresswell appeared to strike Elding, who retaliated. A majority of this was unseen by the referee, but the assistant certainly saw Eldings misdemeanour. What followed next was a couple of minutes of fighting as Elding was shown a straight red card. As he crossed the path of the Bury dugout he became involved in a war of words that escalated into a further brawl. The Bury goalkeeping coach was seen clearly aiming an elbow at a Lincoln player, a sight witnessed by a handful of stewards. Eldings card stood, and Cresswell was surprisingly shown only a yellow card.
Referee Chris Sarginson seemed intent on providing Bury with a point after the incident, awarding free kick after free kick. Cresswell and an unsporting Sodje were booed every time they touched the ball. Sarginson however had the last laugh allowing the Bury equaliser after a strong suspicion of offside.
City held on bravely with ten men, but could in the end only manage a draw.
The last mass brawl at Sincil Bank saw the Carlisle Utd Chairman John Courtnay and forward Richie Foran charged with affray by Lincolnshire Police, and should video footage of the brawl be available then LCM are sure the local constabulary would be making a few telephone calls to Lancashire. Elding's sending off was probably correct, but to only book the Bury defender seemed a massive oversight on the referee's part.
Sarginson is no stranger to controversy at Sincil Bank, having dismissed Peter Jackson for waving his arms during our 1-1 draw with Rochdale earlier in the season. His inconsistency certainly showed today as he ignored several raised arms from the Bury bench during the incident.
Although the standard of referees has been generally quite good this season, it appears the is always one 'wild card' official who can be relied on to cost a team points. In years gone by Jarnail Singh and George Cain have been the offenders, but Sarginson has certainly taken Singhs crown this season. The win today could have seen Lincoln staking an unlikely play off charge. However Sarginson will return to his home, probably in the Bury area, with two important points in his back pocket.