The Imps travelled to Port Vale and Vale Park, one of the most expansive pitches in the football League, aware that they would need to pack the midfield if they were to come away with anything. Thus three central men would allow Carayol and McCallum to spread their wings and fly. But this would be a game of two halves and one that would see a goal from the gods settle a lively affair.
For the benefit of the Vale fans, first the line-ups, then the match report and finally the stats at the end. Thanks again for reading.
The teams and schemes.
Port Vale 4-4-2
Owen Yates McCombe Collins (Y)
Haldane Loft Griffith (Y) Morsy
Pope M Richards
Substitutions Taylor on for Owen 10, Taylor on for Haldane 55, Roberts on for Morsy 63
Substitutes 1 C Martin, 21 Sutton, 3 Taylor, 14 Taylor, 22 Roberts, 8 Dodds, 11 J Richards
Lincoln City 4-5-1
Kelly Hone (Y) Watts Anderson
Carayol Fuseini O’Keefe Kilbey McCallum
Substitutions: Hughton on for Kilbey 84 Green on for Hone 90+6
Substitutes 20 Musselwhite, 2 Green, 19 Clapham, 8 Keltie, 25 Hughton, 22 Hutchinson, 39 Spencer
But to the Game Footy fans to the game..........
The Imps first attack saw Kelly brought down by Lock. Fuseini took a quick free kick and played to Kelly who crossed for McCallum to fire into the corner with aplomb. Just 3 minutes on the clock and it was 1-0 to The Mighty Imps. City continued to dominate the possession as you would expect with our superior numbers in the middle for a change. Kelly and Anderson were playing their best games yet, two constant thorns in the Valiants flanks, personification perhaps that attack is definitely the best form of defence as far as the young full backs are concerned.
Carayol and McCallum were free spirits too, as Fuseini found the time to pull the strings thanks to his two guardians, the huge Kilby and the snappy O’Keefe. The quintet cum septet effectively strangled the middle third, a refreshing change from last Fridays resounding rout. Vale endeavoured to go long in search of the huge and potent pair of Pope and Richards, making for an exciting end to end half. Parish saved well from Loft for a confidence booster and Tomlinson his opposite number got down well to deny Carayol who had the two in front of him in his pocket. Kilby showed an eye for goal fizzing a 25 yarder two yards wide. Hone was having blinder clearing one after a spell of pinball in the Imps box that had everyone in the Potteries touching cloth.
As the half came to a close it was backs to the wall stuff as Port Vale threatened with a free kick and two corners as Elliott saved from Loft and Carayol cleared from on the line up one end and then ran the length
The second half started in tasty fashion as Kilby received a forearm smash as well as a sliding tackle that made even the neutrals wince. The Vale full backs had clearly been instructed to get forward and were certainly giving us a dose of our own medicine. One searching cross from Owen on 50 minutes saw Pope head against the post and Marc Richards narrowly fail to reach the rebound as the Imps continued to lead a charmed life. Kilby also got another dig as the Vale midfielders looked to give him a taste of what he had dished out in the first half. It was passionate stuff with the ref clearly one to live and let live
Vale had clearly come out with a flea in their ear, eager to show they were the side with playoff aspirations as Anderson cleared a Doug Loft corner off the line. The pressure inevitably told on 59 minutes. A peach of an outswinging Kris Taylor cross fed Marc Richards and his downward header gave Parish no chance from 5 yards. Poor marking perhaps but Danny Hone can’t be everywhere to be fair. Loft then hammered a haymaker from just outside the box on 70 minutes to give Parish no chance and Vale a deserved 2-1 lead. The rising twenty-five yarder into the top corner was a worthy winner for any game at any level, but hard on the Imps who had really forced proceedings first half.
Vale were certainly more physical in the second half, something we had done in the first. However we did compete with a side with a far superior budget having a much better season than ourselves for long periods. As Vale sat back the Imps went on the offensive with Carayol having a decent effort. Tomlinson also saved a McCallum corner and Hutchinson went close before the keeper took Hone out with a punch as he tried to clear. But then you never get penalties for those and it left us with yet another shoulder injury concern on top of an equally hard to take defeat.
Kanyuka at Torquay on Saturday anyone? Food for thought as Burton also play Barnet the same day.
Port Vale 2 - 1 Lincoln City (HT 0-1)
Valiants M Richards 59 Loft 70
Imps McCallum 3
Att: 4636 (82 of Imp decent)
Port Vale 50% Lincoln City 50%
Shots on target
Port Vale 6 Lincoln City 6
Shots off target
Port Vale 3 Lincoln City 3
Port Vale 9 Lincoln City 2
Port Vale 7 Lincoln City 6
Port Vale 8 Lincoln City 4
Port Vale 2 Lincoln City 1