That the Lincoln City, Port Vale game took place in front of as many as it did was a pleasant surprise. Over three thousand Imps for the first time in ages and three hundred and fifty-two visitors were given just over an hours notice that this one would even take place. It nearly didn’t at all until Grimes chimed with four minutes to spare at the end of a very long day.
To the teams, the schemes and the thespians then…………..
The Mighty Imps
16 Kelly (Yellow) 6 Hone 4 Watt 23 Hunt
Howell (Yellow) Kerr O’Keefe McCallum
Substitutions Jarrett replaced McCallum 69, Broughton replaced Facey 90+1, Hoyte replaced Grimes 90+2
Substitutes 1 Anyon, 5 Swaibu, 19 Clapham, 28 Hoyte, 17 Jarrett, 10 Broughton, 27 Hutchinson
2 Yates 14 Taylor 5 McCombe 15 Collins
16 Haldane 4 Griffiths (yellow) 19 Geohaghan 22 Roberts 3 Taylor
Substitutions Owen replaced Taylor 46, Loft replaced Haldane 78, Pope replaced Geohaghan 69
Substitutes 24 Johnson, 6 Owen, 21 Sutton, 7 Loft, 10 O'Shea, 27 Brown, 29 Pope
But to the game footy fans to the game........
And what a view it was, from right at the back, behind the goal in a dark but noisy place where the chewing gum lives. The Bishop and I arrived just as the teams had been read out prior to the referees peep. There he stood ominously for all to see – Geohaghan a man for whom there is no earthly snood let alone a mere mortal who can slay him. But Cruncher Kerr to his credit, along with O’Keefe and co, would quieten the Vale midfield quintet. No booking too for Kerr, though perhaps that was more through luck than judgement on a day when one moment of beauty broke though the stalemate at the 11th hour.
The unchanged Imps would attack the home end first at the expense of the visitors getting the first kick of the game. Kris Taylor would take an early freekick in a dangerous position that Howell and Mad Dog McCallum would clear to sound the charge as tally ho the Hunt released Grimes who attempted an ambitious long range punt straight down Martin’s throat.
.Mad Mac then put one wide, before Grimes had everyone descend on him to deny him a shot in the box. Thee Face showed up down the right but the deflection to his harmless cross found its way to Martin who had punched into his own net last year. The home end reminded him of this and ventured that he might enjoy a diet of baked beans given the aroma in the 6 yard box.
It was competitive stuff out there even if the shot count was not troubling the statisticians. O’Keefe shook off a boneshaker before Hunt did Collins and Haldane to start an interesting 90 minute exchange between the two. To his credit referee Woolmer believes in letting a game flow even if his linesman would wave his flag to welcome the Devil himself on a State visit. Good job too with Haldane, Hunt Richards, Hone Watts all having a go at one end; whilst the midfield battle of attrition contained all the likely suspects needed for FA affray.
Mad Dog sent in one resultant freekick that saw Martin save well from the head of O’Keefe as the game somehow failed to boil over. McCombe also blocked a Grimes effort for a corner suggesting set pieces may let unlock a tight affair. Exodus as you can imagine was stopping everything until the Lincoln tank brushed him aside with the power of an express train. That’s how its done showed the captain dinking a superb 35-yard chip onto the roof of the net to just run out of steam at the critical moment.
Carson started to earn his first clean sheet claiming a Vale corner as the visitors and their fans looked set for, and very much in need of, half time refreshment.
Vale won their first corner in the 36th minute but Trevor Carson claimed well before releasing to Grimes who combined with McCallum to win a throw-in at the other end of the pitch. The good old lino - who strangely was to become our friend second half - then wrongly adjudged offside for the umpteenth time. In truth Captain Delboy getting two yards on his defender is normally pretty suspect.
Alas there was little change at half time although Vale put Owen on for a disappointing Kris Taylor who did little to help his cause for a new contract. Haldane and Hunt quickly renewed hostilities with Tally Ho lucky not to go in the book after two offences early doors. A Roberts freekick saw McCombe fluff his lines for our first real let off. Howell however was rightly booked for a penetrative challenge on Griffiths that was so late a pregnancy test might have been in order.
Hunt showed the power of apparent subtlety – the Stacey West likes this lad – getting away with doing the less than saintly Haldane again. With both sides failing to play any real football Owen introduced himself with a clattering crime on Grimes. Pope then came on at the expense of defender Loft to show the world his views on the need for elbow grease as he, Richards, Watt and of course aggro-magnet Dany Hone partied in the penalty box.
The absence of giraffe Geohaghan certainly seemed to open up the options for the last 20 minutes with Pope on for Vale and on Jarrett (McCallum) for the Imps; clearly designed for this effect. The set piece route gave us hope when Hunt headed Howell’s free kick straight at Martin. Griffiths' then saw yellow for a late trip on O'Keefe as the Imps began to threaten. Hotshot O’Keefe hammered a howitzer against the foot of the post moments later. The Imps were certainly on top now and with just four minutes to go the winner arrived. O’Keefe played a thirty yard defence splitting pass that Howell cushioned for Grimes to slam into the far corner from a dozen yards or so. No stopping those, a late smash and grab with a clean sheet to boot, that sees three wins in three for the City – the Imps are on the rise.
Lincoln City 1-0 Port Vale (HT 0-0)
Scorer Grimes 86
Att: 3,370 (3018 Imps 352 visiting supporters)
Possession Lincoln City 50% Port Vale 50% Shots on target Lincoln City 4 Port Vale 1 Shots off target Lincoln City 5 Port Vale 0 Saves Lincoln City 2 Port Vale 3 Corners Lincoln City 3 Port Vale 4 Fouls Lincoln City 14 Port Vale 8 Yellows Lincoln City 2 Port Vale 1
Npower League 2 Table
CLUB P W D L GD PTS
Chesterfield 26 15 8 3 23 53
Wycombe 25 13 7 5 9 46
Rotherham 26 12 8 6 15 44
Crewe 26 11 8 7 18 41
Bury 25 11 7 7 13 40
Port Vale 26 11 7 8 6 40
Gillingham 27 11 7 9 4 40
Shrewsbury 27 10 9 8 9 39
Oxford Utd 27 11 6 10 1 39
Cheltenham 27 10 8 9 0 38
Southend 26 10 6 10 4 36
Stevenage 24 8 9 7 9 33
Torquay 24 8 9 7 7 33
Aldershot 26 8 8 10 -7 32
Accrington 24 7 10 7 -2 31
Northampton 25 8 7 10 -7 31
Bradford 27 9 4 14 -10 31
Morecambe 25 8 6 11 -5 30
Lincoln City 24 8 4 12 -12 28
Macclesfield 24 7 6 11 -11 27
Burton Albio 21 6 7 8 2 25
Hereford 24 6 7 11 -13 25
Barnet 28 6 7 15 -18 25
Stockport 28 5 9 14 -35 24