The Imps can be proud of our attitude and aptitude against Chesterfield, a classy side who looked the part of Npower League Two leaders. On the difficult rain sodden turf of Sincil Bank, both hotbeds of religious and footballing fervour were as persistent as the weather in going forward, with 23 shots, 7 saves and a corner count of 9 to 1 that at least favoured our beloved Imps. The facts follow the not so non fiction at the end as usual , but more of that and the heroes turned villains on both sides after…………
The Teams & Schemes
Both managers were spoilt for choice with John Sheridan able to select Talbot, Lester or Davies up front with Djilali & Boden swapping flanks. Niven & Morris both saw yellow but mesmerised and marauded the middle where the game was effectively won and loss bar the staunch defending and shot stopping Carson in particular. Rhyme Time Guru Tilson crammed 3 returning defenders into his line up. Stevie T started with Hoyte at right back, but after he went off injured on 10 minutes Kelly dropped to right back, Kelly moved wide and Ali came on in the centre thus the Imps played largely thus:
Lincoln City 4-4-2
Kelly Hone Watts Hunt
Howell O’Keefe Fuseini McCallum
Grimes (yellow) Facey
Substitutions Fuseini on for Hoyte (12) Carayol on For Howell (72) Hutchinson on for McCallum (78)
Substitutes 1 Anyon, 2 Green, 19 Clapham, 7 Carayol, 31 Fuseini, 27 Hutchinson, 39 Spencer
Holden Ford Breckin Robertson
Djilali Niven (yellow) Morris (yellow) Boden
Davies (yellow) Talbot
Substitutions Whitaker on for Ford (27) Lester on for Boden (81) Lowry on for Djilali (90+2)
Substitutes 26 Redmond, 4 Lowry, 12 Griffiths, 10 Whitaker, 24 Clay, 14 Lester, 21 Bowery
But to the Godly Game of Saints & Sinners, to the game footy fans to the game………
No surprise to see the heavens open just before the congregations of Lincoln and Chesterfield took our pews. True to the script we would see Saints and Sinners on both the side of the losers and winners as Sincil Bank witnessed not quite the ticky tacky of Spain, but quality of movement and passing that deserves a higher stage than League Two.
The limited advantages of the behind the goal view, in this instance affords the fan two benefits: firstly we get, on occasion to see the net bulge: secondly thirty to forty yard switch passes look sublime. Ex Sheffield United midfielder cum Striker Boden, Djilali, Niven and Morris take a bow. For this quartet played football today despite the persistence of the rain and the Imps who were only beaten by a referee and Davies’ deceit late on.
The Imps would attack the Stacey West Passionista with the slick skidding service perhaps the great leveller, with the Spireites going towards the massed ranks at the Southern end of the Co Op Stand. From the kick-off this they duly did dominating the early phase of play. Hoyte unfairly stopped Djilali who drilled the resulting 20 yard free kick low at Howell (ouch count them lad count them). The advancing mercurial Morris then half volleyed centimetres passed the left hand post.
The Imps responded with Hoyte playing to Howell who cushioned to Delboy, who played the ball but a yard behind Grimes sweeping in to finalise one of Paul Brush’e training ground Counters. On ten Hoyte left proceedings, coming off worse in a 50/50 with Djilali. Ali Fuseini took centre stage Kelly dropped to right-back and Howell went wide.
The Imps began to fight for the right to play with some success, Grimes firing at Breckin and Hunt’s rasping drive denied by Tommy Lee looking his long haired Romany best bless him. The corner was then cleared by a long punt that found Kelly patrolling any counter. He played it back to our normally clever Trevor Carson who hit the calamity mode switch. His miscontrol spilled the ball to Craig Davies, who sublimely chipped and rounded him before calmly caressing into the empty net.
The Imps have spirit and fight aplenty even in the face of adversity and superior midfield guile and style. Facey and Grimes went close before just 5 minutes after the first misfortune a second befell us. Davies and Watts appeared to come together down the other end, with ref Lewis pointing to the spot. Davies recovered but justice was restored as clever Trevor dived and held a well struck penalty to his left to bring us back from the very jaws.
Hone stopped Morris in his tracks before Watts emulated Carson’s heroism, heading Whitakers effort off the line after Djilali had roasted Kelly and Howell to cross an absolute peach. Then one of the great Sincil bank saves of all time topped it all. Djilali again delivered one begging to be headed home, Davies duly headed downward and Carson dived to his right to get his fingertips to a dead cert for number two.
McCallum and Facey combined to win us a corner that only needed a short full back coming in to have made the deep delivery of use. Morris then crudely slowed down Mad Mac who was coming into his own. Despicable but those are the Yellows Keith Alexander and Thommo always stated you take for the team. We fashioned two good chances with O’Keefe, pleased you could turn up son, seeing a goal bound effort go off Holden for a corner and Grimes swivel on a sixpence to fire agonisingly wide from 8 yards. We were getting there and the never quiet Passionistas matched our heroes going up a notch or two.
There was no change in personnel at half time with Stevie T and Sheridan reasoning there was something in it for their respective sides. The Spireites were the first to threaten again Davies dragging wide. Djilali delivered a delectable cross field ball to Robertson, charging down the other flank, who met it superbly and drove for the corner with venom. Carson, the old school black cat flung to make a fingertip save that had every soul at Sincil Bank on their feet with admiration.
The superlatives escape me such was Trevor Carson’s spirit and desire to return from the dark side to the light all in the space of 75 glorious minutes. His four saves would keep us in a game against a side who were dishing out lessons in passing, yet that never say die human spirit radiates even in the darkest of the dark. The Imps responded – as the artisans rolled up our sodden sleeves both on and off the field. Up up went the decibels and went the tempo as the Passionistas urged the Imps forward.
Ali was starting to sparkle in patches with Niven getting the yellow he deserved. O’Keefe had a header saved by Gypsy Lee who pointed to his caravan and was well up for the friendly banter throughout. Good humour is where you find it as long as the boundaries aren’t crossed. Facey urged the Imps on to and was looking for the ball constantly despite a clash of heads with Djilali who was lucky to survive let alone continue to thrive down that flank.
It was all Imps now with Tilson introducing Carayol for Howell and 5 minutes later Ben Hutchinson for McCallum. The Red army rose to grab a draw earned by the gloves of Carson with a grandstand finish about to ensue surely. We got the corners but not the luck. Facey drove a goal bound effort at Holden who clearly used an arm but the appeals went unheard. McCallum also swept home an effort ruled offside.
With 6 minutes on the clock, Chesterfield surprisingly claimed their first corner, but then one is enough if the fates conspire. Here was hero Davies chance to turn from Saint to Sinner to aptly settle the Houses of God Derby Davies turned villain alright to blatantly obstruct hero Carson with hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil Ref Lewis looking on. . Watts also inexcusably failed to act. Whitaker chipped over a beauty to for Holden to neatly head into the six yard box. With an obstructed keeper it bounces across the goal and inside the far left hand corner.
That ended any lingering hopes we had of getting anything from the game. Well perhaps a scrap, reminiscent of the joy of chip shop scraps or scrumps. You know the hidden freebie gem that changes nothing, you would not pay for but its nice all the same – the tomato ketchup, salt and vinegar combo on some chip shop scraps right at the end, at the bottom. Yes Davies was cautioned for of all things persistent infringement, only in football, only in football but thank heavens for those small mercies eh?
Defeat yes, dishonour and despair no. Head up Imps Barnet awaits next for Tilson and Brush’s Rhyme Time, When Saturday Comes.
The Match Stats
Lincoln City 0-2 Chesterfield (HT 0-1)
Spireites Scorers Davies 15 Holden 84
Att: 4,172 (3030 Imps 1,142 Spireites) Ref: Lewis
Lincoln City 50% Possession Chesterfield 50%
Lincoln City 5 Shots on target Chesterfield 8
Lincoln City 4 Shots off target Chesterfield 6
Lincoln City 4 Saves Chesterfield 3
Lincoln City 2 Offsides Chesterfield 3
Lincoln City 9 Corners Chesterfield 1
Lincoln City 9 Fouls Chesterfield 14
Lincoln City 1 Yellows Chesterfield 3