Fouty-eight hours ahead of the Southend encounter the legal side of things took centre stage. Ryan Hall was given his life back, swapping a cell and a stripy suntan for a Sincil Super Saturday and the Blue sporting uniform of the Shrimpers. Steve Tilson loved and loathed by the Shrimpers fans and board in equal measure, also went public on his cash wrangle. Clearly taking a team from League 2 to the Championship and back again, shows the disparity of the capabilities of human memory, when one looks at the money men or the average fan in the street. Those present yesterday would see sufficient evidence, as two almost full away sections of the Co Op stand paid tribute to their ex manager.
But let us not dwell on this too much footy fans, for football is a spectator sport that is one and lost on the pitch. Let us looks at the artisans, the heroes & villains and the young and the old who would shape and contest this encounter. (As usual all the facts & stats are at the end of the article).
To The Teams & Schemes........................
Lincoln City 4-4-2
Kelly Hone Watts Hunt
Carayol Clapham(Y) O’Keefe Facey
Substitutions: Spencer on for Grimes 90+1
Substitutes: 20 Musselwhite, 2 Green, 40 Kanyuka, 9 McCallum, 25 Hughton, 31 Fuseini, 39 Spencer
Southend United 4-3-3
Clohessy Coughlan Barker Gilbert (Y)
Ferdinand Easton Sawyer
Hall Corr Sturrock
Substitutions: Comminges on for Gilbert 45+1 Grant on for Easton 51, Asante on for Hall 86
Substitutes: 1 Morris, 16 Prosser,19 Comminges, 7 Grant, 17 Soares, 20 Crawford, 28 Asante
But to the game footy fans to the game.
Tilson pulled a master stroke an hour and a half before kick off, placing a far from clapped out Clapham as centre stage custodian Out went Fuseini along with McCallum in favour of Facey on the left and Ben Hutchinson up front. Back came Ferdinand for Grant for the Seasiders, their manager going for the win by his own admission.
Hutchinson looked a busy chap compared to the lethal chameleon to his right early doors, but as we know too well Grimes chimes at just the right times. Ben had the first shot of the game, straight at Evans on his near post and then bundled the keeper over before Blair Sturrock struck one down Carson’s throat. Corr was looking dangerous winning everything in the air and supplying the flick ons. The aerial prowess of centre back Coughlan at a corner saw Hone block well.
Jamie Clapham was getting into what was threatening to become a worryingly cohesive Southend machine. He was everywhere, seeing the carpet pass, picking Easton and Sawyers pockets at just the right time. Given the opportunity most of that midfield would do for us, along with Grant who could not even make the starting 11. Along with defensive rock Barker – Paul Morgan in his prime – who dealt with a sublime Carayol cross after our wizard had woven some Sincil gold. The Magical Mustapha at times lit the first half turning men into statues, forget red arrows fly by come see the Lincoln City glide by.
Clapham continued to command and turn back a thirty-five year old clock, hitting a glorious 40 yard ball to Carayol before going alone and seeing Evans scramble away his speculative 20 yard daisy cutter and then a fearsome drive that Barker beat down with his chest – the beast!. Facey then headed wide after Hutchinson had blocked his man well to create the space; as the Imps shaded the chances even if the Shrimpers more than edged the build up play.
To this end and perhaps just in time the Imps went ahead on 38 minutes. Hunt took the throw along the line, Facey headed on ads hid Hutchinson to Grimes now midway into enemy territory. Grimes turned and played into the centre, O’Keefe fortunately stayed out of matters and Carayol his a venomous 30 yard effort that bounced awkwardly for Evans. The keeper spilled it and saw it rebound to the onrushing Lincoln City goal machine. There was only going to be one outcome as Grimes chimed 15 for the season.
The imps had their tails up and Grimes almost completed his brace with a flicked header going just a whisker passed the post. Gilbert then did himself after trying to stop Carayol as the Imps continued to look the most likely to score next. But don’t count your chickens as Uncle Bob would say as sub Corr slammed one into the side netting.
Both managers appeared happy with their teams & schemes and tinkered not at the change around. Clapham again broke down a move and gave easy to Hutchinson who laid to Grimes before Facey fired at his Clohessy. Count them lad count them. Sturrock then made a change on 51 minutes introducing the lively Grant for Easton. The forearm smash to Watts face was somehow deemed only worthy of a talking to, but he would show the better side of his game henceforth. His dribbling and distribution down the right were too much for Kelly and O’Keefe although Clapham got a foot in not to mention a handful of shirt to stop him as the games mood changed.
Grimes kick was so high it would have won a kung fu bout yet another 6 stud challenge from an unnamed seasider went unpunished. We missed our chance to go two up when Clapham played the ball of the day out to Facey who curled a cute cross onto the head of Hutchinson. Big Ben rose to the challenge and directed a towering header towards the home end net. There was that man Barker again, to coolly thump the ball from beneath our very bar to ‘ooohs and ahs’ from the Passionistas attempting to suck the ball home.
Those are the moments you feel as the other side go straight up the other end and score. A sweet freekick from inside his own half from Barker found the head of Corr who headed on. A bout of head tennis ensued in the Lincoln Box, mostly by the Shrimpers before Sturrock junior slammed home a volley from 8 yards. Clapham took an important yellow for timewasting as the increasingly dangerous Grant, who thankfully did not start, was hauled back at the start of another mazy run, with a subtle shirt tug.
This seemed, along with a penalty shout, to fire up the Imps. A Carayol free kick saw Hutchinson pushed to the ground on the blind side of the referee and gosh Josh O’Keefe redirected a Carayol cross that Evans instinctively fisted away. On 79 minutes we got the break to ensure an evenly balanced contest sea sawed our way. It was route one – old skool – as Carson cleared to Grimes in space down the left hand channel. Behold Sincil a matrix moment as; in slow motion he brought the ball under his spell, beat Coughlan all ends up before cutting in to return us to fast forward with a rasping twelve yard drive off the underside of the Stacey West bar. Queue flag waving and Passionista party time at the house of Imp.
That said it wasn’t over yet as both sides continued to go forward, the Shrimpers desperate to give their travelling hordes a point at least. Sturrock almost gave Corr an opportunity but there was still time for a cameo from screech. On came Scott Spencer, bursting at the seems he was. Replacing Grimes he chased down well won a corner, showed a us a wonderful back heel and shot inches over our bar. Wow what a talent, if he can do that in 2 minutes what could he do in 90?
Perhaps with 16 goal hero Grimes off to higher climbs we might just find out, with the lad clearly here with the future in mind. Grimes has been a great find this season and you feel, Screech, also much loved and admired by Tilson’s old fans could well be the goal machine that will continue to cement Tilson’s relationship with his new ones. Let us hope these three points, now just 5 from the fifty and the fabulous send off from the Shrimpers fans and the Passionistas – on very much his (and Clapham & Grimes) Sincil Super Saturday - are the first of many good days. Tilson and Brush have not just saved another football club, but along with Mr Foley- and as we understand it now up to 3 new investors; Sincil Smiles and style could be here for a while.
Lincoln City 2 - 1 Southend United (HT 1-0)
3,560 (2460 Imps and 1,016 visitors)
Lincoln City 50% Southend United 50%
Shots on target
Lincoln City 7 Southend United 2
Shots off target
Lincoln City 6 Southend United 3
Lincoln City 5 Southend United 2
Lincoln City 12 Southend United 12
Lincoln City 1 Southend United 3
Lincoln City 1 Southend United 3