Saturday, 1 January 2011

Lincoln City v Bradford City - 1 January 2011

Venue: Sincil Bank, Lincoln
Attendance: 3,225
Final score: 1-2
The key question I asked in my last post was whether Lincoln would be rusty or refreshed after their long break away from competitive action.  The question seemed to be answered very quickly as Lincoln got off to the worst possible start this afternoon.  Only 2 minutes into the game, a bouncing ball caused havoc in the Imps defence, with Moses Swaibu leaving the ball for ‘keeper Joe Anyon when it seemed simple enough to put it safely into touch.  While the Imps dithered, Bradford pounced and Hanson slipped the ball into the net, leaving Anyon helpless.

In fact, the giving of belated Christmas gifts would come to be a recurring theme in the game, with all three goals a gift to the scorers.  The early setback didn’t lead to the Bradford onslaught some Imps fans will have feared, and with the help of some clever touches from the mobile Millwall loanee Grimes and the workrate of Facey, Lincoln seemed determined not to let the Bantams rest on their laurels.  Lincoln’s best chances came from the right boot of Scott Kerr, who came close with three long range shots.

Lincoln’s equalizer came from the penalty spot on 22 minutes.  A freekick on the edge of the box was fired in, and the referee ruled that the ball had struck a Bradford arm.  It seemed a harsh decision, and the Bradford fans made their displeasure heard.  It seemed additionally harsh as a few minutes earlier Bradford had been denied a penalty themselves, when a shot appeared to strike a Lincoln arm on the goal line.  Nevertheless, the decision was rendered moot when Grimes slotted the ball past Pidgeley to level the scores.

The game continued to be an even contest, and looked to be heading to half time without further incident, when Lincoln’s defensive frailty again reared its head.  Evans received the ball on the right wing, cut inside Clapham, whose pace looked suspect all afternoon, and ran along the edge of the penalty area.  The Lincoln defense failed to close him down sufficiently, particularly Watts, and Evans coolly placed a low left footed shot past the despairing dive of Anyon.  It was clinical play from Evans, but evidence again that the Lincoln defense lacks that desire to put bodies on the line to keep the ball out of the net.

The second half began with Bradford looking to extend their lead, and they again felt that they deserved a penalty on 47 minutes.  Evans burst into the box and went down after a tangle with Clapham.  The crowd held their breath, expecting a penalty, but instead the referee awarded a freekick to Lincoln, apparently for handball, as Evans had handled the ball as he fell forwards onto it.

As the second half wore on, the game remained in the balance with neither side able to carve out clear cut chances.  It was Lincoln who applied the most pressure towards the end, particularly after the introduction of Ben Hutchinson and Luke Howell for the below par Albert Jarrett and Mustafa Carayol.  A number of goalmouth scrambles led to half chances which were either blocked or saved, with one chance agonizingly falling onto the top of the bar.  It was Lincoln’s best spell of the match and gave hope to the faithful that something may yet be salvaged from the afternoon.  The danger from Bradford on the break remained present, however, especially after the introduction of the pacy Omar Daley.

It was unfortunately not to be, and Lincoln’s 2011 campaign started as their last league game in 2010 had, in defeat.  But despite some rustiness and defensive weaknesses, there remains some hope that the squad contains enough quality to lift the club away from the wrong end of the table.  Manager Steve Tillson’s ability to find some experienced loan signings in January may decide Lincoln’s fate.

Lincoln City
1. Joe Anyon
4. Adam Watts
5. Moses Swaibu
7. Mustapha Carayol
11. Scott Kerr (c)
14. John O'Keefe
17. Albert Jarrett
18. Delroy Facey
19. Jamie Clapham
28. Gavin Hoyte
29. Ashley Grimes
20. Paul Musselwhite (GK)
3. Joe Anderson
9. Gavin McCallum for 17 (71)
10. Drewe Broughton
15. Luke Howell for 11 (71)
25. Cian Hughton
27. Ben Hutchinson for 7 (76)

Bradford City
40. Lenny Pidgeley
3. Luke O'Brien
9. Gareth Evans
12. Steve Williams
16. Shane Duff (c)
17. James Hanson
20. Tom Adeyemi
22. Lee Bullock
23. David Syers
28. Robbie Threlfall
29. Richard Eckersley
1. Jon McLaughlin (GK)
6. Luke Oliver
7. Omar Daley for 28 (76)
8. Tommy Doherty
25. Chib Chilaka
26. Rob Kiernan
30. Jason Price

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