Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Lincoln City v Luton Town, 6 December 2011

Venue: Sincil Bank Stadium, Lincoln
Attendance: 2,049
Final score: 1-1

Following on from Saturday’s disappointing showing against Newport County, City needed to continue their improved home form against high flying Luton on a freezing cold night at Sincil Bank.  Thankfully, the performance was a big improvement, and City fought to claim a well deserved point.

City only had one change to the starting line-up, with Russell reclaiming his place at the expense of Laurent.  Luton brought a couple of familiar faces with them in the form of Janos Kovaks, the former Imps defender and midfielder Jamie Hand.

The match began in scrappy fashion, with both sides looking to attack, but Luton looking the more incisive on the ball.  The visitors had the ball in the net after just 9 minutes, but the linesman ruled that the ball had gone out of play before O’Connor headed it home – much to City’s relief.

Oddly, the disallowed goal seemed to spur City into life more than Luton, and the midfield were playing some nice football, often under close pressure from Luton players, who were closing down well.  Russell and Power in particular were linking up well, but with City playing 4-5-1, the service to the lone striker Perry was all important, and the big man was finding it difficult to hold the ball up.  For all of City’s possession, Pilkington was the quieter of the two keepers in the first half.

Inevitably, predictably (and any other ‘tably’ word you feel free to add here), City couldn’t hang on until the break, and Luton scored a soft goal on 36 minutes, somewhat against the run of play.  The ball was put into the box by O’Connor, and Crow reacted quickest to stab it home from close range.

Perry was lucky not to feel the referee’s wrath straight after the goal, when he clattered into Gleeson.  The referee saw it as a clash of heads but from where I was sitting, which was pretty close by, Perry was lucky not to be punished for leading with his elbow.

City therefore trailed somewhat undeservedly at the break, whilst up in the cold, cold stand I sipped my hot chocolate and tried not to break my teeth on my frozen Revels.

City made a rare halftime change, with Perry being replaced by Laurent.  Two good early City breakaways were wasted by Thompson – the midfielder first handing a pass to a defender, then blasting a wild shot high and wide.

The match changed for City with the introduction of Taylor for Russell.  Although Russell had been having a good game, Taylor immediately injected some drive into the attack, and I for one was very pleased to see him getting his chance.  With his first touch, he cut inside and flashed a low shot just wide of the post.

City now began to be in the ascendancy, with Taylor and Laurent’s movement causing problems for the Luton defence as the Imps changed to 4-4-2.

The deserved equaliser came in the 77th minute when Platt tricked his way past his man to get to the byline, chipping a neat, deep cross to the back post.  Hinds was there to head the ball home from very close range.

City’s tails were up and the match was now wide open for either side to win.  City’s cause was helped in the 85th minute when Lawless was shown a second yellow card for a deliberate trip on Platt.

Luton were still causing problems, though, and the prospect of City’s work being undone by a late winner was still very real.

Luton’s second red card limited their attacking options, as former Imp (and part-time thug) Jamie Hand saw his second yellow card in injury time.

Although many Imps fans seem to have left the ground vaguely disappointed that three points weren’t claimed, everyone would have gladly taken a point before the game, and Luton had enough chances themselves to also feel that they could have got more from the game.

As it is, City’s home form continues to be good, and the second half performance was as clear a steer as it is possible to get that Jamie Taylor should be replacing Kyle Perry up front, but that the Imps still need Sam Smith to get fit again as soon as possible.

28 Paul Farman
13 Tony Sinclair
2 Richard Hinds
5 Josh Gowling
3 John Nutter
8 Alan Power
34 Tyrone Thompson
27 Jean-Francois Christophe
15 Simon Russell
12 Conal Platt
9 Kyle Perry
11 Francis Laurent for Perry H/T

7 Jamie Taylor for Russell 58
36 Jake Sheridan for Christophe 81
17 Nicky Nicolau
1 Joe Anyon

30 Kevin Pilkington
2 Dan Gleeson
6 George Pilkington
34 Janos Kovacs
15 Jake Howells
4 Keith Keane
7 Alex Lawless
28 Adam Watkins
11 Robbie Willmott
14 Aaron O'Connor
10 Danny Crow
27 Jamie Hand for G Pilkington H/T
19 James Dance for Willmott 77
23 Ryan Brunt for O'Connor 81
13 Stuart Fleetwood
1 Mark Tyler

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