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29/12 Lincoln 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NEITHER team made any changes at half time and the game seeped off, rather than kicked off. Many were still queuing for the toilets, including Ronnie Bull, as he wandered around, oblivious to a foe hiding in the shadows. Ball up, back out, thundered goalwards by Butcher. Or was it Toner.
Lincoln City 0 Grimsby Town 0
Still Town flowed, Reddy roaming on the left. Free, faced with a chunk of Chyne, he fell under a challenge. Can we have a penalty please sir? No, soufflÃ© has more fortitude. Hassled, harried, the City defence imploded, passing directly to Sestanovich in the centre. Three against two, Gritton released. Shoot! Shoot! No, he twisted, twinkled and fell theatrically a few yards out. Shot by the invisible sniper in the invisible army. It crossed our mind that Futcher and McCombe would have to slay at least three Town players with AK-47s before the referee would even consider giving a penalty. Just a feeling, you know. Hold your breath, Town attack, surging, urged on by the Pontoon Sound, displaced 40 miles south west. Crowe running from the half way line, pursued by four defenders, into the area, twisting right. Letâ€™s ignore his handball. A dozen yards out, Marriott awaiting. Crowe bazookered the ball goalwards. Marriott again, superbly, brilliantly, flung his arms up, his body sideways and the ball was levered over the cross bar. Will these goalies continue to taunt us? This is the fourth division, they are supposed to let the ball go between their legs.
Lincoln kicked the ball a long way and Ramsden headed the ball back to Williams. That was their last chance. Ouch, weâ€™re breaking their heart, ouch, their fallinâ€™ apart. Being beaten, almost literally, at their own game.
Roared on, Town crushed the butterflies against their own wheel. More City errors, Marriott kicking a back pass against Gritton, the ball flying off to safety, rather than into the net. Lucky boy, lucky Lincoln. With five minutes left Whitte fell whilst trying to dig the ball out for a throw in. He stayed down, was carted off and Town played for a couple of minutes with 10 men. Crowe retreated into the back three and Lincoln scented a wounded animal, piling all their big men forward and hitting the ball even higher. Nothing happened. Yes it did!
86 minute - "Sladey : Sort it" - not getting away with changing the order of the words. It had to come, it had to be, itâ€™s an FA regulation, one of the ten commandments of Town "though shalt spake the words and the words shall spake themselves "Sort it Sladey"". I understand that referees are instructed to abandon games if no-one shouts. Sladey indeed, did sort it: Pinault arrived.
With the wee Frenchman on Town fell apart, succumbing to Lincolnâ€™s manliness, proving Slade right in dropping our artiste. No, course not, Town stepped up a gear, and a further notch on the competent-o-meter. OO-la-la, such beauty in a pass, a first time cushioned half-volley swept down the touchline, sending Ramsden free. Corner followed. Ramsden on the touchline? Town set up base camp inside the City area. Jones and Ramsden permanent fixtures. Imps shaking.
And another corner, and another, Marriott quivering on his line, Futcher outjumped by Jones. Panic. Stanleyvich curled one to the far post, Marriot just managed to slap the ball away from Ramsdenâ€™s head on the goal line. Ramsden crossing from the right, stretch, stretch my beauties. Ah, a City defender glanced the ball away from the far post. Jones turned to the Town fans, imploring even more noise. He got it. A Pinault free kick from the left hung high, slipped off a forehead beyond the far post. Ramsden turned and slammed a shot goalwards from eight or so yards out. Two defenders raced out, arms aloft. What a magnificent parry by the full back. Still no penalty given. Do they have to catch it?
Three minutes of added time, spent entirely inside the Lincoln penalty area. Corner after corner, free kick after free kick. It must come soon. Pinault flung one high from the left, Jones looped it goalwards, Reddy rose and glanced it further on. The ball reached Gritton, with his back to goal, who let the ball drop off his thigh and turned the ball aside to Reddy six yards out, who slashed it through a thicket of Lincoln legs for a deserved winner. The Town fans leapt up and landed near Newark. When we got back into the ground we noticed the referee was shaking his head with Town players crying at his feet. Why? Heâ€™d disallowed it, probably for LBW. The ball had, after all, pitched in line and would have clipped the top of the leg stump.
And the game ended immediately.
What a coward.
Town had outfought, outjumped, outmuscled, outthought and, ultimately, outplayed Lincoln and thoroughly deserved the victory. We know we won, they know we won, only one man didnâ€™t. This was the flip side of Boxing Day; those who had been poor were superb, fighting fiery studs with flamethrowers. There wasnâ€™t much of the beautiful game going on, but the glimpses that were seen came from the yellowbellies with white shorts. The last 20 minutes were uplifting, giving the crowd something to believe in, for the first time since the sunlit uplands of spring 2002. The last 5 minutes were even better. Now why was that......
Lincoln were vigorous, committed, organised, determined. All worthy attributes, but you need more than that, donâ€™t you? Once Town had worked them out there were very, very few City attacks and no real threat to Williams apart form the odd pot shot. That says a lot for Townâ€™s defence. Town avoided victory not through their own missdoings but through a superb shot-stopping display from Marriott and the refereeâ€™s pusillanimity.
So there you are, you can wear that chip on your shoulder with pride.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Ramsden was Handysidian in his serenity, but send out that bunch of flowers to Mr Rob Jones. As good as he has previously been bad, this was always going to be his sort of game and he grabbed it (and Futcherâ€™s shirt) with both hands. Headed everything away, blocked most things that got through and even passed to his team mates. He looked comfortable in a Town shirt. Jones, eh? Whoâ€™d have though that last Sunday night. What a mixed up, shook up, muddled up world.
Mr P Crossely. Crossley made us cross with his weakness. He never, ever looked like he wanted to make a big decision. He was heading for an above average score for allowing the derby to flow, but his lack of heart in the last few minutes sunk the knife into his cheese. No pickle for you laddie. You get 1.876.
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