Monday, 26 September 2011

Lincoln City v Forest Green Rovers, 24th September 2011

Venue: Sincil Bank, Lincoln
Attendance: 2,076
Final score: 1-1

Expectations were raised at Sincil Bank for the visit of Forest Green Rovers, even if the crowd wasn’t.  A pitifully small home turnout hoped that the win against Gateshead would spark a City revival.  Other fans obviously require more convincing before returning.
City started in the worst possible fashion, with early Forest Green pressure turning into a very early goal.  The ball was looped high into the box from the halfway line, and Curtis McDonald rose highest to nod the ball past Anyon at his near post.  The controversy came from the fact that Tony Sinclair had been asked to leave the pitch only moments before to remove a wristband.  With Sinclair on the pitch, the goal may have been better defended.  However, I am less keen to whinge at the referee than Steve Tilson was, as a) McDonald nshould still have been beaten to the header, and b) players should damn well know what they can and can’t wear on the pitch before kickoff.
The goal was rather surreal, partly because it came so early, but also because the crowd reaction was virtually non-existent (I assume the Forest Green fans celebrated, but I really don’t remember hearing them!).  It left me wondering for a few seconds if it had really happened. 
Sadly, it had, and City were left chasing the game after such a feckless opening.  It’s fair to say that City dominated the remainder of the first half, but struggled to create enough quality to test the Forest Green keeper.  In fact, the nearest City really came to drawing level was a fairly good shout for handball in the box when a defender tried to chest the ball back to his keeper.  City were resorting to lumping the ball forwards towards Perry far too often, and the big City target man seems to become more lumbering with every passing match.
Forest Green were doing little to threaten extending their lead, and it was clear that any decent side would have turned them over quite easily on this performance.
It says something that the highlight of the first half was the Forest Green’s keeper athletically catching the ball behind his back, then taking a cheeky bow at the applause he received.
The second half continued in much the same vein, until thankfully City were able to put in a decent delivery and take advantage.  Nutter’s deep free kick perfectly found the head of the leaping Danny Hone, and it will have done the defender’s confidence no harm at all to see his downward header find the back of the net.
The crowd were buoyed by the equaliser, and City really should have gone on to win.  In reality, the best chance to win the match fell to Forest Green with 9 minutes to go, when the lively Norwood slipped through to find himself one on one, but Anyon, who had had very little to do, kept his concentration to save brilliantly.
The introduction of Sam Smith predictably did little to increase City’s chance of scoring, as I’m afraid I have to say yet again that I fail to see what he brings to the attack.  Yes, he has some energy, but he seems to have little pace, can’t beat a man and has a weak shot.  I’m hoping that one of these days he’ll play a blinder, and I’ll gladly eat humble pie, but at the moment we definitely seem to be lacking an impact striker (a la Simon Yeo) to come off the bench and turn a game.
As it was, the final whistle sounded, and City at least have 4 points out of a possible 6, and are now unbeaten in 2 matches – how’s that for positive thinking?

1 Joe Anyon
13 Tony Sinclair
6 Danny Hone
5 Josh Gowling
3 John Nutter
8 Alan Power
10 Ali Fuseini
27 Jean-Francois Christophe
15 Simon Russell
9 Kyle Perry
30 Gavin McCallum

14 Sam Smith for Perry 73
23 Josh O'Keefe for Christophe 82
16 Mitchell Nelson
17 Nicky Nicolau
19 Bradley Barraclough

1 James Bittner
2 Jared Hodgkiss
5 Jamie Turley
16 Luke Graham
3 Chris Stokes
20 Ali Bangura
11 Kieron Forbes
19 James Rowe
7 James Norwood
8 Yan Klukowski
17 Curtis McDonald

4 Wayne Turk for Bangura 52
10 Charlie Griffin for Forbes 63
18 Chris Allen for McDonald 88
12 Jeffrey Imudia
13 Matt Bulman

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