Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Port Vale v Lincoln City, 29 March 2011

Venue: Vale Park, Stoke on Trent
Attendance: 4,636
Final score: 2-1
Fresh from Friday night’s mauling at the hands of Rotherham, Lincoln travelled to Port Vale with fans unsure of what to expect.  Would the team react strongly and put in a performance (as Port Vale would fear) or would the shellshock still be present, allowing Vale to stake their claim early?

Vale began the game in 9th place, still looking for a playoff spot, as all of City’s recent opponents seem to have been.  City played Vale at Sincil Bank relatively recently, back at the end of January, as City ran out 1-0 winners during their New Year purple patch thanks to Ashley Grimes’ late strike.  Was a rare double on the cards?

City made surprisingly few changes to the starting 11.  Danny Hone was given back his place in the side, which should never have been taken away in the first place.  For the sake of decency, I won’t mention the name of the suspended player he replaced.  In the midfield, O’Keefe came in for Spencer, meaning that Ben Hutchinson was playing as City’s lone striker.

Port Vale began to attack straight from kickoff, forcing Hone into an early clearing header.  City were soon on the attack, however, and after winning a freekick, Kelly put in a cross which found McCallum, the winger hitting his strike first time to give the Imps a 1-0 lead in just the third minute.

City came close to extending their lead as Vale rocked – Hutchinson missing the target with 2 headers in quick succession.

City were playing with far more fluidity and purpose than Friday night, but could not make their possession count.  Danny Hone had a good chance halfway through the half when he stabbed a rebound over the bar.

As the half wore on, Vale inevitably came more into the game.  Young loanee goalkeeper Parish made a great save from Richards, and a scramble ensued that City eventually cleared.  Despite their increased possession, Vale couldn’t break through and City deservedly took their lead into the break.

City started the second half brightly, but Vale had obviously been given a dressing down at half time, and soon began to exert pressure on the Imps’ goal.  They were nearly back on level terms almost immediately, but Pope saw his header come back off the post.

Vale didn’t have to wait too long to get their reward, however, as Richards got on the end of a cross to plant a textbook downward header past Parish on 59 minutes to make it 1-1.

Vale were now in control, though it took a long range wonderstrike to give them the lead on 70 minutes.  Loft cut inside Watts before curling his powerful shot past Parish and into the top corner.  The young keeper must be getting tired of picking the ball out his net this week, though in reality he has done little wrong to deserve such poor statistics.

City kept working hard for an equalizer, but couldn’t muster any real chances until injury time when O’Keefe forced Tomlison to save his header.  An injury to Danny Hone held up the final whistle, but when it eventually came, it confirmed the sad fact that although City’s performance was massively improved over Friday, the league table continues to show City’s points total 4 short of the magical 50.

12 Stuart Tomlinson
2 Adam Yates
5 John McCombe
6 Gareth Owen
15 Lee Collins
16 Lewis Haldane
4 Anthony Griffith
7 Doug Loft
18 Lewis Morsy
9 Marc Richards
29 Tom Pope
14 Kris Taylor for Owen 10)
3 Rob Taylor for Haldane (55)
22 Gary Roberts for Morsy (63)
8 Louis Dodds
11 Justin Richards
21 Ritchie Sutton
1 Chris Martin

24 Elliott Parish
16 Julian Kelly
4 Adam Watts
6 Danny Hone
3 Joe Anderson
14 Josh O'Keefe
31 Ali Fuseini
26 Tom Kilbey
7 Mustapha Carayol
9 Gavin McCallum
27 Ben Hutchinson
25 Cian Hughton for Kilbey (84)
2 Paul Green for Hone (90+6)
8 Clark Keltie
19 Jamie Clapham
22 Andy Hutchinson
39 Scott Spencer
20 Paul Musselwhite

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