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22/01 Lincoln 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
THE crowd rose to acclaim their hero. On came Thomas Pinault for Greg Young, Town then moved to a different formation; one looking suspiciously like a 4-3-3, with Ramsden at left back.
Grimsby Town 2 Lincoln City 4
Another corner to Town, on the left, cut out, returned to Pinault. He piddled about with it, there was some huggy bear huddling, he hurled himself at the ball and sliced a swinging cross into the middle from the edge of the area. Players threw themselves at the ball and it was deflected out to the edge of the area, just off centre. COLDICOTT took a couple of steps, closed his eyes and walloped a low shot across the onrushing defenders and into the bottom right hand corner. Giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon. The whole town leapt up six inches, with worried parents ringing the local fire service for advice. The players congealed into a black and white blur near the dug out, someone set fire to something in the Lower Smiths/Stones/Findus. Did someone spontaneously combust with pleasure? The air was sucked from the ground and blown back again, pinning the Lincoln players to the turf.
Now, if only the game had ended then.
The highest high is often followed by the lowest low. There has to be balance. They kicked off, the ball went somewhere fast, then down their right. Oh. Taylor-whatsit is free, bounding onwards behind Ramsden. A cross, YEO towards the near post and unmarked, steered the ball in to the net, first time. Thatâ€™s right, our friends from the south, we arenâ€™t singing anymore. Half the Town team immediately ran after the linesman claiming some infringement, probably offside. Watch the video for your chance to rail at the injustice of the world. Or not.
But fear not, Town didnâ€™t give up. Back they came, the crowd still alive, still believing. Pinault, always Professor Pinault, prodding here, pumping there. A scooped flip over the full back, Macca free, Macca crossed, blocked, pressure building. What a move, Pinault to Parky, dribbling, twisting, swaying past Bloomer. Parkinson hit the bye-line and pulled a cross low through the six yards box. Ramsden (I think) slid in from the penalty spot, but the ball ricocheted away to the edge of the area, to almost the same position the Yard-dog had scored from. The goal gaped, Pinault slapped a low shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Several thousand Lincoln legs dived across, with the longest leg of â€˜em all just managing to divert the ball past the post.
Pinault again, nicking the ball in midfield, knocking it out to Parkinson, who tippled the ball over the top. Reddy hit the nitro button, nodded the ball on and zoomed past the last defender. Into the box, two defenders leaning on him, Reddy smirked a low left shoot across Marriott from about 15 yards. The â€˜keeper stretched every sinew and managed to flip the ball just past the post with his forearm. Itâ€™s all Town. More Town-ness down the right. Reddy, unstoppable, slivering across the grass, sneaking around defenders, rolling into the area, defending moths inexorably drawn towards his bright gleaming sun. The ball squirmed loose a couple of yards out, McCombe panicked, swung a lump of lignite at the ball, and fell on his knees and prayed as it arced slowly over Marriott and onto the roof of the gaol, just behind the crossbar.
In the meantime Lincoln had visited their supporters a couple of times. They still looked extremely dangerous when in our half. Yeo flashed a first-time shot across Williams, forcing him into a stumbling, walking save. Taylor-Fletcher had a shot too, I think, but, hey, so much was happening it wasnâ€™t close enough to register.
And again, here they go, off down the Town right, into the area, about to shoot. Donâ€™t worry, Maccaâ€™s there. You can all go home now, thereâ€™s nothing to look at. Go, safe in the knowledge that the unimpeachable president of perfection is dealing with the matter. Urgh, argh, guggle. Thatâ€™s the sound of someone eating their own words. McDermott picked up the loose ball and passed it to an opponent, stood in the middle of the goal, on the edge of the area, unmarked. How could he do that? TONER controlled the ball, took a step and leathered it low to Williamsâ€™ left. The air was finally blown out of the Town fans, allowing some of the more purple-faced people eaters to happily vent their spleen again.
Town still dominated in terms of possession, still created half moments of almostness. But there was something lacking; the will, the belief had gone. Theyâ€™d allowed the game to slip away when it was in their grasp. Lincoln were cock-a-hoop, confident and content to search for more. Four wasnâ€™t enough. They sat back, soaked up pressure and kicked Town on the break. They could, probably should, have had more, with many a break foundering upon greediness or, latterly, excellent Forbes tackling. Oddly Forbes only started to play well in the last quarter of an hour, as though five would have been too much for his ego to bear. And four wasnâ€™t?
Pinault still prompting, still winding up Reddy for some runs on the right. Bloomer fouled someone and Town got a free kick. I mention each of the free kicks Town got just so that you realise some were actually given. Nice of the ref to think of us. Pinault guided the missile in, Jones rose unmarked and headed a foot or so wide. Should have scored.
With about 10 minutes left Town again pressed down the right. Reddy chased a pass from Pinault, the ball bounced, a Lincoln defender barged Reddy and the ball hit a red-striped arm. HANDBALL! The Pontoon repeated those earlier calls. The ref waived play on and the ball bounced out to Westcarr a few yards outside the penalty area. OOOh dear, they were set up for a fast break with more of them than us. Thank you Mr Westcarr. The wee laddie caught the ball and launched into a verbal assault on the referee for awarding the penalty he hadnâ€™t given us, presumably. The referee stared at Westcarr for a few seconds, walked towards him like an embarrassed verger accidentally stumbling across an Ann Summers party, and took the ball off him. Westcarr promptly kicked the ball away, thinking it was a drop ball. A booking, and the ball was walked forward 10 yards. Pinault curled the free kick a few inches over the bar. Never looked like going in, it was safely just over. So it is demonstrably true, referees will give handballs in Townâ€™s favour if the opponents catch it, but only after a lot of thought. You can hold on to that research grant money now, Mr Fenty.
And still Town pressed forward. Pinault, playing chase the ace with Sandwith, curdled a cross to the far post, where Ramsden steamed in and headed straight at Marriott from half a dozen yards out. Marriott continued to flap at corners and crosses, but the ball always fell to his mates. Parkinson and Gritton, caused minor mayhem on the fringes of the penalty area. To the bye line, crossing to no-one, just behind, just beyond, that little word just. Finally, the last big chance of the game. Great Town play, passing, movement, aggression. McDermott, receiving a flick from Gritton in the area, drifted across two challenges and had a clear sight of goal about eight yards out. He leant back and wafted the ball over the bar with his left foot. Ramsden shot wildly into the Pontoon in added time, but that wasnâ€™t interesting, just a footnote to the footnote of a game that sums Town up.
What does this match tell us? Nothing new; that a team can be greater than the sum of the individual parts. Town have some talented individual players, but collectively they are weaker than many of the opponents seen so far. We have fickle performers. When they matched Lincolnâ€™s intensity they pulverised them. Lincoln were battered, their defence laying prostrate in the road, waiting for the next car to come round the bend. It never did: we stopped in a lay by and handed the keys to a bloke munching a burger, who ran us over with our own car.
We can moan about two of their goals if we wish to delude ourselves; we can seek excuses, but the better team won. A team for 90 minutes, not the one that was supreme for fifteen. A fairer score may have been 2-1, given the high proportion of chances they took, but that says a lot about their strikers and goalkeeper, doesnâ€™t it.
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
No-one did anything worthy in the first half so, despite some excellence from Coldicott and Reddy, the message to the world is Thomas Pinault. He proved his, and our, point. One mis-placed pass, in the 87th minute, but even then he got the ball back. He was, by far, the best footballer on the pitch. The truth is out there.
Mr K Woolmer. What is handball? What is a foul? Is it the same for red and black? What is advantage? What is going on? Do you know? The man was fortunate that the players were disciplined, for he didnâ€™t seem to be very consistent. He stopped many Lincoln attacks with arbitrary whistling in their favour, and never saw red arms holding, but imagined some red socks tripping. Slightly disfavoured Town in a generally ropey performance. Below average even for a below average league - 4.754. And why not?
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