Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lincoln City v Southend United, 12 March 2011

Venue: Sincil Bank, Lincoln
Attendance: 3,560
Final score: 2-1

Normally, the arrival of Southend at Sincil Bank wouldn’t be cause for particular interest, but this year there is a little more connection between the two clubs due to manager Steve Tilson.  Tilson is a bit of a legend at Southend, having been a successful player and manager there.  His tenure ended under a cloud, however, and he left to take up his current job with Lincoln after being put on gardening leave, but claims that Southend owe him unpaid wages.  This has all blown up this last week with Tilson taking legal advice and threatening to take Southend to the Football League.  Southend strenuously deny doing anything wrong and say they don’t owe Tilson anything.

Lincoln have stuttered slightly of late, as I mentioned in my report of the game against Burton Albion, while Southend are still hopeful of a late surge into the playoffs.  I therefore went to the game with slight feelings of trepidation.  Southend fans turned out in numbers – a superb 1,016 making the long journey northwards.  Despite their slightly annoying cockney accents, they were in good voice throughout the match.

City made some changes to the starting lineup, Tilson obviously identifying the midfield as a problem area in recent weeks.  Jamie Clapham replaced the disappointingly ineffective Fuseini in midfield and, more surprisingly, McCallum was dropped to the bench.  In his place Ben Hutchinson started up front, with the busy and hardworking Facey moving to the left wing.

The match started in even fashion and without any good chances created, but with Southend looking confident to stroke the ball around.  City started to get into the game after 20 minutes, creating a few half chances, but Hutchinson in particular was looking hungry to impress.

On the half hour, City began to turn the screw, and the Southend half saw the majority of the play, but again without notable chances being created.  The deadlock was broken on the 38th minute when Carayol broke free and fired a hard shot straight at Evans.  The Southend keeper spilled the shot in front of him, and who else but poacher-supreme Ashley Grimes was there to tuck in the rebound.

The goal gave City confidence, and Grimes came close to grabbing a second just 2 minutes later, but his header from a Kelly cross just went wide.

A Carayol tackle on Gilbert left the Southend man in pain and needing to be replaced just before the break, which the Imps took their 1-0 lead into.

City came out of the blocks quickly in the second half and began to pressurize the Southend goal, with Facey seeing his shot blocked.  Southend made an early substitution, with Grant replacing Easton in midfield.

Southend soon began to get more of the ball and the second half promised to be a more open affair then the first half had been.  On 55 minutes, City came achingly close to doubling their lead when Facey was put through on the left wing.  His deep cross found an unmarked Hutchinson who looped a header back towards the back post.  City fans were half on their feet celebrating, but Barker managed to get back to acrobatically clear the shot off the line.

Play soon went down the other end, though, and poor marking by the City defence allowed a freekick to fall to Blair Sturrock (son of Southend manager Paul Sturrock), and he made no mistake in firing past Carson.  The equalizer stung City as they had seemed on top, but now had to work hard to ensure that the balance of the game didn’t swing in Southend’s favour.

The expected Southend onslaught failed to materialize however, and if anything the game became scrappier, with the referee’s whistle the dominant soundtrack.

On 78 minutes, a backpass to Carson saw the City keeper heave the ball forward to Grimes, who was stood unmarked on the left of the field.  Grimes got to the edge of the box, cut inside past his marker, and fired a powerful shot off the underside of the bar.

A few minutes later, O’Keefe saw a curling shot from the edge of the box shave the outside of the post.

As the final minutes approached, Southend began to get numbers forwards, but City’s defense held firm and closed down well.  Four minutes of injury time were indicated, and in the second of those, Grimes came off to a standing ovation, to be replaced by former Southend striker Scott Spencer.

Spencer was clearly keen to impress, and began running around, chasing everything.  He was presented with a great chance to open his City account when Carayol picked him out in the box with the keeper out of position, but he could only put his shot over the bar.

No further goals were needed, however, as the referee’s whistle soon after ensured the City victory.  Although Southend failed to pose the threat to City I thought they would, it was a battling performance from the Imps, and certainly a massive improvement from last week.  The result lifts City into 15th, 10 points off the playoffs but more crucially 11 points off the relegation battle and only 5 points away from the magical 50 point mark.

As an aside, before I finish, I was watching Scott Spencer warm up before he came on, and it finally struck me where I know him from.  I loved him in Bill and Ted!

24 Trevor Carson
16 Julian Kelly
4 Adam Watts
6 Danny Hone
23 Stephen Hunt
14 Josh O'
19 Jamie Clapham
7 Mustapha Carayol
18 Delroy Facey
27 Ben Hutchinson
29 Ashley Grimes

39 Scott Spencer for Grimes (90+2)
2 Paul Green
9 Gavin Mc
25 Cian Hughton
31 Ali Fuseini
40 Patrick Kanyuka
20 Paul Musselwhite

24 Rhys Evans
2 Sean Clohessy
3 Peter Gilbert
5 Graham Coughlan
23 Chris Barker
31 Kane Ferdinand
8 Craig Easton
11 Lee Sawyer
12 Ryan Hall
10 Barry Corr
21 Blair Sturrock
19 Miguel Comminges for Gilbert (45+1)
7 Anthony Grant
for Easton (51)
28 Kyle Asante
for Hall (85)
16 Luke Prosser
17 Louie Soares
20 Harry Crawford
1 Glenn Morris

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