Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Lincoln City v Oxford United, 1 March 2011

Venue: Sincil Bank, Lincoln
Attendance: 2,261
Final score: 3-1

Lincoln and Oxford come into this rearranged fixture on the back of defeats at the weekend – City 4-2 at the hands of Barnet and Oxford 2-0 to Hereford.  Oxford occupy the better league position, however, sitting in 9th place and just a point off the bottom playoff spot.

Oxford started the game more brightly, the ball spending more time in the Imps’ half than anywhere else, yet it was the Imps that took an early lead.  McCallum’s cross found O’Keefe, whose shot deflected onto the post, but the City midfielder had followed up well to tap the rebound home.

The game continued in scrappy fashion, with the ball pinging from end to end, but with neither keeper really tested.  City had a penalty appeal for handball waved away on 20 minutes.  The Imps were forced into an early change on 22 minutes when Howells pulled up holding his leg.  He was replaced by Mustafa Carayol.

On the half hour, City came close to extending their lead when Grimes got the ball in the centre circle, and threaded a good pass out wide to Facey.  The burly striker showed his pace and strength to get level with the 18 yard box before crossing low to Grimes, the striker’s powerful first time shot just missing the top corner.

On 40 minutes the visitors were level.  A fairly innocuous shot into the body of City keeper Carson somehow bobbled loose, and MacLean made no mistake in punishing the error.  It seems that Carson is either making fine fingertip saves and penalty saves recently, or making schoolboy howlers.  The Imps were hoping that they were not to be punished for giving away such a simple equalizer.

Oxford started the second half better, obviously buoyed by their goal.  After only 5 minutes, hesitancy and an inability to clear the ball saw Asa Hall given a chance to shoot, which he fortunately blasted over.

The game soon returned to it’s scrappiness of the first half, with neither side able to assert themselves, and a draw looking increasingly likely.  That was until a bizarre 5 minutes which turned the game.

On 63 minutes, Facy hooked the ball into the box, only to see Harry Worley’s attempted clearance slice into the top corner of his own net.  The crowd took a second to register what had happened, as there seemed to be no pressure on Worley.  Strangely though, City stadium announcer Alan Long announced the goal as being scored by Facey!

If that own goal was a piece of comedy, then to see a similar thing happen just 4 minutes later was simply hilarious.  Carayol tricked his way past his marker to get the ball to the touchline, and drilled a hard, low cross into the box.  This time it was Tonkin’s attempt to clear, but he instead executed an inch perfect chip over the despairing leap of Clarke to give the Imps a 3-1 lead.  It was a finish any striker would have been proud of.

City were more content to sit back as the game entered its final phase, and although Oxford had much possession, they were unable to really test Carson and the Imps easily held out for a valuable, if somewhat comically obtained, victory.

24. Trevor Carson
. Julian Kelly
. Adam Watts
. Danny Hone
. Stephen Hunt
. Josh O'Keefe
. Ali Fuseini
. Luke Howell
. Gavin McCallum
. Delroy Facey
. Ashley Grimes
7 Mustapha Carayol for Howell (24)
27 Ben Hutchinson
for Facey (81)
39 Scott Spencer
for Grimes (89)
2 Paul Green
19 Jamie Clapham
40 Patrick Kanyuka
1 Joe Anyon

1. Ryan Clarke
. Damian Batt
. Harry Worley
. Jake Wright
. Anthony Tonkin
. Simon Heslop
. Paul Mclaren
. Asa Hall
. Steve MacLean
. Tom Craddock
. James Constable
16. Simon Hackney for Craddock (74)
. Alfie Potter for Hall (77)
. Jack Midson for Maclean (81)
. Djoumin Sangare
. Simon Clist
. Josh Payne
. Simon Eastwood

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