A debut at Broadhall to forget, as Stevenage Borough and lady luck, took both three points and three further players, from a City side already running on empty in every sense of the word. Eerily going ahead on 33 the Imps still found this a tough ask ahead of Rotherham, Vale and Gillingham, as we faced Graham Westley’s combative but deserving side, who prove even amongst the paupers, there is princely prosperity in the plodding nature of the good old fashioned work ethic, well in football at least if not life.
As usual, this for readers from our opponents in particular, first the line ups, then the match report and finally the facts and stats for the anoraks at the end.
First to the teams & schemes then
Henry Foster Roberts Laird
Wilson Long Bostwick Mousinho
Substitutions Winn on for Long 58, Ashton on for Laird 58 May on for Reid 87
Substitutes 27 Maamria, 5 Ashton, 7 Murphy, 12 May, 13 Byrom, 17 Winn, 20 Beardsley
The Mighty Imps 4-4-2
Kelly Hone Watts Hunt
Howell O’Keefe (Y) Clapham Carayol
Substitutions McCallum on for Howell 14 Hutchinson on for Grimes 70 Green on for Hunt 83
Substitutes 20 Musselwhite 2 Green 9 McCallum 22 A Hutchinson 25 Hughton 31 Fuseini 40 Kanyuka
But to the Game footy fans to the game..........
Amidst dazzling sunshine the magical Mustapha would be asked to ply his trade from the left as Howell returned albeit for 13 minutes before leaving again. Could beauty tame the beast given the Imps were shorn of aerial prowess, whilst Stevenage go for height, power and desire for their stock in trade? With Hunt as Captain and Hone heading back cannon balls on Tuesday we were about to see with 401 Imps singing their hearts out for the lads.
Boro pumped long from the centre, perhaps a hint of things to come, but Hunt and Clapham were alive to the skills of Wilson – well this time at least. The Imps when playing to feet were easy on the eye, with Carayol ghosting passed men at will and Clapham’s range of passing keeping keeper Day fit. Screech’s first touch let him down from a sublime pick out from our veteran left back turned playmaker who realised passing, rather than ‘hoof’ would play to our strengths. Carayol, Grimes and Spencer have pace and skill not size and strength – more art than industry perhaps.
That said Hone was repelling inbound and stopped Craig Reid at the expense of a corner. Howell then tweaked that thigh again which saw Carayol back on the right, Mad Dog go on the left. It reaped a reward with Carayol tearing passed the two new blokes to hit a rasping drive that went for a corner. Wilson cleared a well delivered Clapham corner that lacked the personnel to convert it. Wilson like Stevenage were beginning to get into the game, Mousinho hit a howitzer wide and Laird slowed Carayol down with a challenge that should have seen a booking.
Carayol was having a purple patch but alas Grimes and hit & miss O’Keefe fired at their markers. Wilson on their right was also ominously coming into the game and fed Reid who fired a foot over to ‘Oos and Ahs’. It was a lively end to end affair now with O’Keefe doing a ‘Rooneyesque’ bicycle volley that wasn’t three bad in all honesty. Carayol then delivered a half cross that appeared to be chested down by Laird, only for the linesman to make the 401 Imps day – penalty. Grimes sent the keeper the wrong way putting just inside the left hand post. So all the threes again – on 33 the Imps were one nil up.
A slick exchange between Spencer and O’Keef saw Carayol spurn the chance to put us two up and back came the hosts, who to be fair would never be down an out given their makeup and indeed sideline style of the manger. More animation than Disney and Pixar put together has Westley as he drove his side to equalise four minutes later. A Wilson cross appeared to be dealt with by Clapham, but his was a poor clearance to the edge of the box. Mousinho hit a ferocious half volley that Carson saved superbly but Wilson beat all the Imps defenders to the rebound to hammer home into the top corner. It was all Borough after that with Carson commanding well although Clapham went close with a powerful drive that allowed Day to save well for the cameras.
The break appeared just the job for the Imps who were now going towards the legion. McCallum fed Grimes who curled one of those on-the-turn-jobs just passed the post. McCallum went close and Charles had the defence at sixes and sevens as we finally crowded him out far more by luck than judgement. Boro were in the ascendancy as the half got into gear and made a bizarre double substitution with a striker going to left back as Ashton and Winn came on for Laird and Long. It confused the Imps who allowed danger man Wilson to receive a long throw and hit a humdinger of a drive on the turn from 20 yards. 2-1 Stevenage and one to watch, albeit with a hair of the dog this morning.
O’ Keefe troubled the statisticians for only the third time in the game, earning a yellow for wanting Bostwick’s shirt as a memento. The day got worse as Grimes injured himself trying to force home Carayol’s cross, ending up in the net receiving extensive treatment in the process before going off. A first run out there for Kevin Oxby (replacing Mr Wait who we said was leaving 2 weeks ago – stick with us we may not always like the news we hear but we bring you the truth anyway) saw defeat as Grimes was forced to come off replaced by back form oblivion Andy Hutchinson.
It was spit and sawdust now as Stevenage got into their groove. They are not the quickest of sides but they compete all over the park and give everything for the cause and the second ball in particular, something we Imps have not done since Keith. Carson, Hone and Watt earned their corn and Clapham continues to excel on ever ready batteries having a long range curler saved by Day. Ashton headed what looked to be the decider but the black cat claimed just inside the far post.
There was one last bit of bad news as Hunt limped off with an ankle turn seven minutes to go after what seemed an innocuous challenge, giving Green a chance to impress anyone looking for a versatile left and right sided defender or midfield player next season. But the Imps rallied, warts and all, forcing three corners. Kelly, now at left back shot just over and even Carson came up for two of them, as we threw the kitchen sink at things. Carayol enjoyed a cameo spell as we decided to play football again after leaving him in the cold for so much of the game.
Such a shame, three more players down, three points lost but glimpses you feel of hope. Fortunately, although bad things come in threes, we need just four points for that 50 point bull’s-eye that will see us live to fight another season in League 2. Let us hope even though the board have turned Mr Foley down we have the funds to add to Carayol’s flashes, for we must entertain the crowds if the club is to survive and prosper. How many will continue to buy season tickets unless next season looks decidedly brighter than this? For that is more of a financial fix-it in reality surely, than someone already involved with the club plugging a £50,000 gap and, our biggest asset the ground and the club going separate ways?
Stevenage 2-1 Lincoln City (HT 1-1)
Boro Wilson 37 & 60
Imps Grimes (pen) 33
Att: 2732 ( 401 Imps)
The Match Stats
Stevenage 53 % Lincoln City 47 %
Shots on target
Stevenage 3 Lincoln City 1
Shots off target
Stevenage 8 Lincoln City 8
Stevenage 5 Lincoln City 5
Stevenage 9 Lincoln City 10
Stevenage 1 Lincoln City 2
Stevenage 4 Lincoln City 5
Stevenage 0 Lincoln City 1