Hereford United came into this one mindful that things had changed for the better for both sides since the 4-3 win over the Imps four weeks ago. One thing that had metamorphosed methinks, was the Imps defence, a miraculous improvement to the Sincil spine that surely only stem cell reproduction could dream of. After a bright start an O’Keefe 30 yard dream pass saw Grimes nod down to Facey who drilled home from 19 yards with aplomb. Thereafter Lincoln did not so much park the bus, in the Face of the Bulls charging around their own china shop, as compete in midfield and at the back as if our lives depended on it. Hereford, to their credit, showed why they too are a side rapidly on the rise
First to The Teams & Schemes
Green Kovacs Townsend Heath
Colbeck Rose McQuoikin Purdie
Substitutions - Canham on For Jervis 58 Pell on For McQuilkin 72 Lunt on For Purdie 85
Substitutes - 31 Heister, 27 Preston, 16 Lunt, 18 Featherstone, 23 Pell, 35 Ngo Baheng, 10 Canham
Lincoln City 4-4-2
Hoyte Hone Watts Hunt
Kelly Howell O'Keefe McCallum
Grimes yellow Facey
Substitutions Kanyuka on For Grimes 90+1) Fuseini on For McCallum 90+1 Broughton on for Facey 90+1
Substitutes 20 Musselwhite, 40 Kanyuka, 17 Jarrett, 31 Fuseini, 10 Broughton, 27 Hutchinson, 39 Spencer
But to the Game Footy fans to the game
Two sets of proud glistening gladiators entered a Coliseum that has in truth seen better days, though not perhaps, two such in form foes. The ambiance was fitting with the sky suggesting a storm brewing, the scene further enhanced by some rather apt and strong winds of change. They do say familiarity breeds contempt but with the Imps on four wins, this, the fourth meeting of the season, suggested either the immovable object or the irresistible force would stand over a slain foe this day.
Our Hereford hosts got the first kick of the contest but it was the Imps who were the more dominant in the early sparring. Delboy, a captains game again you will be pleased to hear, was denied an early one on one by the linesman but dummied moments later for Grimes to fizz inches passed the right hand post. Mad Dog McCallum, Mad Mac where beef is on the menu of course, celebrated his return to the old stomping ground with a smart volley that nestled on top of a net he knows only too well.
Hoyte, acting in tandem with Kelly as the Imps right horn, carved open the right flank with Grimes unlucky to guide his shot wide. Would the Imps pay the price of profligacy the 164 travelling songsters pondered? Fleetwood certainly suggested the defence need be on their toes with a mazy run at the expense of a corner. It was end to end stuff already amidst the winds and a growing torrent of darkness tossed upon a cloudy sea of uneven green. Keeper of the goal Bartlett made a brave double save from the head of Facey to the feet of McCallum, then from the release the ball was up the other end with Fleetwood mugged at the last at the expense of another corner.
The towering Kovacs, well marshalled over all, headed just over to home sighs but high fives from Carson and his back 4 boys clearly well up for the rearguard action Hone then made a magnificent saving tackle to deny Fleetwood the opener after a wonderful curling Colbeck cross that begged to be swept home. Within 10 seconds Kelly had won us a corner on the counter down at the other end, such was the tempo. The Mad Mac was certainly pounding some beef on the other flank and also won a corner with the home fans less than hospitable at their departed hero’s return.
Then O’Keefe – in danger of fast becoming a fabulous find, let alone a Sincil Smash hit, changed a fourth game with a sensational 30 yard chip. Yes indeedy, missing in action he may go but he has two awesome assists and two great goals on show. Gathering in his own half he took a couple of strides arrowing one from the centre line straight to Grimes. Instead of letting it drop Grimes headed across to Facey who drilled inside the near post from twenty yards. Two in two for Facey, but isn’t O’Keefe’s passing range and goal scoring ability becoming decidedly deceptive? Golly Gosh Josh!
Hereford reeled from the body blow and were it not for Green robbing McCallum at the right minute, it could well have been thumbs down from the Caesars in the directors box. This saw them regroup with Purdie roasting our right to deliver an inviting cross that Watts did well to head to safety with the rest helping to repel the resulting corner. Trevor Carson then made two key saves, claiming a Jervis curler just under his bar; before punching well under pressure from Colbeck who crudely clattered him. Hunt had steam coming from his nostrils but let things slide – for now.
The interval saw no changes with Jamie Pitman clearly confident the Imps defence could not go a full 90 minutes without conceding with the wind and the Bulls in their faces. Oh contraire, though Fleetwood would be the first to deliver a scare and a square ball to Jervis who had his pocket picked by Kelly taking and receiving like a true pro. The Sincil spine was there for all to see with O’Keefe throwing himself in front of a Purdie excoset with Hunt picking up the pieced to clear.
Hoyte had Jervis in his pocket with replacement Canham also finding little time and space down his flank Kelly was always eager to back up his full back with Purdie guilty of a crude challenge born of frustration. Fleetwood had a farcical shout for a penalty waved away; then again the wind did far more to him than Hone; as the Bulls continued to press for the inevitable equaliser.
Brave Danny Hone was in the wars as usual clashing heads with Kovacs as 12 foot 9 and 27 stone of defensive sinew and muscle went toe to shuddering temple. Imps physio and sorcerer supreme Michael Wait, yes he of the healing hands, brought him back to reality with the smelling salts and the timeless secrets of the magic sponge. It was blood gut gore and true Brit grit from the days of yore for sure.
Pell hit high and wide from range as the Imps locked horns to form a 10 man phalanx with Trapdoor, Patrick Kanyuka and Ali Fuseini on for the agonising 5 minutes of added time. Tilson took up over a minute with that one to destroy any late momentum and aerial assault aspirations on behalf of the Bulls. Kanyuka looked awesome in a holding midfield role - Exodus Geohaghan may perhaps have become an Imp at last – with the Imps holding on for a well deserved away win and clean sheet bonus.
So five in five for the 15th placed Imps, with 7th placed Gillingham 8 points ahead of us and having played 3 more games. It’s two tantalising home games up next too, we play Shrewsbury on quid a kid Tuesday and Morecambe Bay next Saturday. Is that playoff poetry and history in the making or just euphoria after such a dark period?
One thing is For Sure the Imps and Cockney Pearlie Kings Tilson and Brush are most certainly on the rise.
Hereford 0-1 Lincoln City (HT 0-1)
Scorer Facey 29
Ref: Robert Madley
Att: 2,776 ( 2612 Bulls 164 Imps)
Hereford 53 % Lincoln City 47 %
Shots on target
Hereford 9 Lincoln City 3
Shots off target
Hereford 5 Lincoln City 6
Hereford 1 Lincoln City 9
Hereford 5 Lincoln City 6
Hereford 9 Lincoln City 5
Hereford 0 Lincoln City 1