Lincoln City and Bristol Rovers, two proud ex-Football League clubs, played with a heart to match the heritage as Sincil Bank served up another 5-goal thriller. With The Gas defence so mean it can peal an orange in its pocket and the Imps gung-ho approach at both ends something had to give. But lets not get too ahead of ourselves, welcome to Bristol Rovers fans, Conference fans and my fellow Imps, let us take another view from the Stacey West.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Teams & Schemes
Sat 13th Sept 2014
Scorers 13′ Sinclair 22 Leadbitter, Newton (Pen) 37′ Burrow 45
Attendance 2937 (2726 Imps 211 Rovers)
Ref Mr Toner
Teams & schemes
Leadbitter & Clarke return at the expense of Martin & Cunnington as Darrell Clarke switches from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 to combat Simmo’s 4-2-3-1. The Imps are unchanged
Simmo goes 4-2-3-1
17 Caprice 23 Brown 6 Diagne 3 Newton
12 Mendy 14 Nolan
8 Power 5 Bencherif 11 Tomlinson
23 Monkhouse 10 Taylor
3 Brown 24 Sinclair 8 Clarke 7 Mansell 2 Leadbitter
15 Trotman 6 Parkes 4 Lockyear
Clarke goes 3-5-2
Subs & substitutions
The Imps Bench: 31 Preece, 7 Kabba, 15 Sam-Yorke, 10 Leadsham, 22 Marshall
Substitutions: 76′ Sam-Yorke comes on for Nolan
The Rovers Bench: 25 Puddy, 5 McChrystal, 16 Martin (Y) , 17 Harrison, 27 Cunnington
Substitutions: 52′ Harrison on for Monkhouse, 61 Martin on for Leadbitter 71 Cunnington on for Taylor.
To the game fellow football fans to the game…………
Rovers kick off but play over the top as the ball rolls harmlessly to Townsend. Diagne Brown and Newton have a mix up with the latter selling Townsend short but his clearance cannons back off Monkhouse for a goal kick. A super flick from Burrow finds Bencherif on the charge but the bounce beats him and he shoots wide.
Nolan is stroking the ball around well and conducting the play, indeed, early doors the Rovers formation seems to have taken the gas out of their passing game. Mendy is immense, disrupting things early then playing it short and easy allowing Power and Nolan to get the counters going. Mansell delivers a peach of a free-kick, Lockyer gets up superbly to power a header wide. Two Mendy challenges deny Monkhouse and Taylor, after some pin-ball in the penalty area. Rovers are settling and upping the tempo, the danger signs are there for all to see.
Caprice is royally roasted by Taylor, who then sends an intelligent and inviting daisy cutter across the six- yard box. Nolan and Diagne inexplicably leave it and fail to clear, so Sinclair, with all the time in the world and the freedom of the City six-yard box, calmly side-foots home. The normally solid back four aka the Sincil Six-foot soldiers, are at sixes and sevens against the movement of the Gas attack, born of Mansell driving, with the two flying wing backs, Brown and Leadbitter, doing the laps round our full-backs. Diagne and Brown leave the ball allowing Mansell a drive that fortunately goes well wide
Another Rovers corner sees Leadbitter rise again to put wide. Newton gets forward to fire a fizzing drive that Mildenhall saves superbly. Shock, gasp, horror its two. Leadbitter, disposes Mendy twenty-yards from his own goal and surges forward on a mission. The eager beaver gets forward again, this time cutting in on his left to finish with a fireball into the corner. The central Gas trio are completely dominating Bencherif, Nolan and Mendy, with the wing-backs and front two causing havoc every the visitors come forward. Monkhouse, one on one with Townsend puts just the wrong side of the post.
Burrow gets a yard on the left and rifles a right-footer that Mildenhall again makes look easy. A Lee Brown free-kick curls just past the right-hand upright. Sincil Salvation as Trotman handles in the area for a stonewall penalty. Newton superbly shoots to the left to give Mildenhall no chance for way back into a 1-2 game The Imps confidence has grown, although Power has been fouled more times in the last ten minutes than Nelson’s column and Blackpool Tower put together. The game is end to end with the Imps defensive frailties allowing Lee Brown to overlap down the left and fire wide of the near post.
Townsend claims a corner and throws to Nolan, he plays to Power who plays a one-two with Burrow before curling a beauty just the wrong side of the post. Taylor on the counter unloads a hay-maker that Townsend saves confidently. Its end to end still as more good work from Power sees Rovers fail to deal with the ball in their six-yard box, allowing the ball to bounce and Burrow, lurking to the left, celebrates his England call up and fifth of the season with a clinical strike inside the near post . Newton gets a terrific cross over but Hamza cannot quiet recapture his Grimsby moment and the score stays at 2-2.
Both managers keep the faith as the Imps attack the Rovers fans in the ex-home end. The opening phase of passing football is a credit to the Imps, Caprice gets forward and sends over a beauty that is just begging for a touch. Hamza earns a corner with Trotman lucky to recover. The Imps win a second corner Diagne gets above Trotman (his marker Monkhouse is down injured to be fair) but his header is saved by Mildenhall who gets Rovers away on the counter immediately, but Caprice is wise to that one. Harrison replaces the injures Monkhouse
Hamza gambles and Trotman misses, but, the keeper saves and is winded as our 14 stone might Moor flattens him. Tomlinson connects with a Newton cross but the bullet whistles wide. Burrow also heads wide with Rovers wilting under the pressure, passion and physical presence of the Imps. Newton flashes a 30-yarder wide. Nolan and Caprice are running riot with the latter sending in a beauty that Hamza is inches from connecting with. Leadbitter makes way for Martin suggesting a change of formation. Martin, a conventional winger, gets into the action quickly with a decent effort down the throat of Townsend who gobbles gratefully.
The Imps build up has slowed, allowing Rovers to get back in position until Nolan surges forward only to slip on the ball. Rovers counter with Martin forcing another smart save from Townsend. The game has opened up again thanks to the return of pace rather than grace. Caprice picks the pocket of Taylor attempting to pull the trigger. Townsend denies live-wire Taylor’s towering header at one end and Mildenhall Martin gets a card for a naughty one on Power, who has seen more abuse than a Mexican party Piñata with gold nuggets in.
Cunnington comes on for Taylor and immediately forces a full-length save from Townsend. Nolan gets some space but the box-to-box Sinclair – a curious cross between a Viking and a pirate personified given the hair – heads away. Superb work rate all game, ditto Nolan and Mendy. Sam-Yorke comes on for Nolan and looks lively to force a corner. Corners at both ends
A terrific header from Sam-Yorke is brilliantly denied by Mildenhall. The Newton corner finds Sam-Yorke but the header is troubling no one but the statisticians. Martin is gifted an opportunity by Power but Townsend again saves the day after a poor ball by his captain. Power is great going forward and has covered every blade of grass today
The twist of fate deals us tragedy this week then? Diagne clumsily challenges Sinclair in the penalty area and alas slays the Pirate-Viking. All bar 211 are touching cloth at Sincil Bank now . Lee Brown, repositions the ball, adding to the agony, strides forward and hits the foot of the post to a deafening roar of approval from the Hordes of Impdom. Lee Brown does not shirk his responsibilities however and gets forward once more to unload a glove warmer. Townsend manages to get to it, but, substitute Harrison is more alert than Diagne and fires inside the far post.
The Imps go for an equaliser with venom. Tomlinson wriggles serves up Hamza but the bullet header is high and wide. With Lincoln exposed Martin gets an opportunity to counter hitting a twenty-yarder high and Cunnington is also fortunately flagged for offside. The cavalry charge almost pays off giving us five opportunities and shots in the dying minutes. Bencherif, Sam-Yorke, Power, Newton and Power all have efforts blocked before the whistle ends the matter, allowing hero Mildenhall to be mobbed by the Rovers fans behind his well kept net.
Great advert for the division that could have gone either way. Sincil Bank is certainly the place for skills, thrills and spills at the moment. Entertainment in abundance once again at the theatre of the absurd.
Stats & Table
Note: shots on includes goals and saves includes crosses claimed
50 % Ball 50 %
9 Shots on 11
9 Misses 5
8 Saves 11
10 Corners 8
2 Offside 3
9 Fouls 10
0 Yellows 1
0 Reds 0
|3||FC Halifax Town||9||6||1||2||16||8||+8||19|
|10||Forest Green Rovers||9||4||3||2||10||6||+4||15|
|24||AFC Telford United||9||0||3||6||11||22||-11||3|