Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Lincoln City v Gateshead, 20th September 2011

Venue: Sincil Bank, Lincoln 
Attendance: 1,587
Final score: 1-0
Football, is officially a wonderful, if rather unpredictable, sport.  Regular readers may have noticed that I missed the game against Luton on Saturday – due to having a lovely long weekend in Paris.  I was therefore able to get the score, but only catch up with the nitty gritty when I got back, and too late to really write anything.  Whatever the circumstances of yet another defeat-despite-playing-well game, it was firmly put to bed tonight as the Imps gained a massive (and somewhat unlikely) 3 points against top of the table Gateshead.

City made a few changes to the starting lineup, with Josh Gowling and Danny Hone starting in the centre of defence.  Adam Watts was on the bench (presumably having been coaxed out of his house with pieces of cheese after his admission of being ashamed to be seen in public).  Christophe played in front of the back four, as City adopted a 4-3-3 formation for the first time in a while.

It was clear from the opening passages of play that Gateshead were not at the top for nothing.  Their patience and composure on the ball, even in defence, was impressive, as was the turn of pace upfront.  City began well and were clearly up for the fight, but like most Imps fans I was thinking that a draw would have been a very creditable result.

City probed well for the opening quarter of an hour, but were suffering from the invisible magic wall that seems to sit on the 18 yard line.  Getting the ball up to that point seems very easy, but as soon as the magic wall is crossed shots lose their power, crosses hit the first defender and loose balls magnetically go towards the nearest opposing player.

McCallum and Russell were looking particularly feisty, and McCallum in particular continues to look hungrier and fitter than he did last season, driving forward and making good decisions with his passing.

Gateshead were looking dangerous, and started to get more into the game as the half wore on.  Their ability to consistently deliver dangerous crosses and set pieces meant that the threat of conceding was ever present and the City defence couldn’t afford to lapse for a second.  This was in sharp contrast to City’s deliveries, which are certainly an area that need working on, as time after time the ball was meekly delivered rather than being driven into the danger area.

The pathetically small home crowd applauded the team off at half time, and the encouraging noise made all match was very pleasing to hear, and I’m sure played no small part in the players’ performance.

The second half began with a bang, but thankfully for City the bang was the ball hitting the upright from Carruthers' head, as the visitors came out of the blocks quickly.

City continued to battle, though it looked as if they might never break through a stubborn Gateshead defence.

The addition of Smith for Perry on 67 minutes did little to enliven City’s attack, as the big striker still continues to look aimless on the ball, and despite apparently being quick always seemed to be easily beaten to the chase.

The breakthrough came on 76 minutes, when Nutter finally played in a decent cross which found Ali Fuseini’s head, and the diminutive midfielder nodded the ball down to beat Farman at his post to score his first goal for the Imps.

The celebration on the touchline showed how much the goal meant to the entire squad, and if any fans were in doubt as to how much more committed this team is compared to last season’s, these scenes said it all.

The frustration began to show from Gateshead, as they seemed to have expected at least a draw from the game, and their play became scrappier, though no less nerve-wracking from a City perspective.  City finally had their tails up, though, and were breaking up play with determination, running the clock down as best they could.

The relief at the final whistle was palpable, and players and fans could celebrate a hard earned win.  If the players were lacking confidence before the game, then this win should give them the boost they need to get the season kick-started and start to pick up points again, starting on Saturday against Forest Green Rovers.

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 67
19 Bradley Barraclough for McCallum 82
4 Adam Watts
17 Nicky Nicolau
23 Josh O'Keefe

13 Paul Farman
2 Eddie Odhiambo
5 James Curtis
6 Ben Clark
20 Chris Carruthers
4 Kris Gate
8 Phil Turnbull
11 Michael Cummins
16 Josh Gillies
9 Jon Shaw
10 Yemi Odubade
3 Sam Rents for Carruthers 61
18 Kyle Nix for Gate 70
15 Gary Mulligan for Cummins 85
12 Nathan Fisher
24 Jak Alnwick

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