|Season 9 - Lincoln City|
|Season 9 - Lincoln City|
|Written by Terry|
|Tuesday, 06 December 2016 23:07|
Lincoln City v Oldham Athletic – FA Cup Rd 2
Sincil Bank, Lincoln
Monday 5th December 2016, 19:45 K.O.
This match had been moved to the Monday to be shown live on BT Sport TV. We could have stayed at home and watched in comfort, but you cannot beat live football and the chance to spot yourself on the TV recording.
We headed eastwards out of Burton with hope, rather than expectation, because Latics had found it easier to score goals in the various cup competitions than in the League. This was to be a day off from the bleak League matches experienced so far, with the magic of the F.A. Cup to dream about.
On the way into Lincoln I was looking for good omens when I spotted ‘Redfearn’s Turf’ – surely this was going to be our night!
At this stage of last season, if Latics had beaten Sheffield United, they would have hit the financial jackpot of 45% of the takings from a trip to Old Trafford in the third round. That windfall could have meant the completion of Boundary Park’s North Stand, and perhaps the recruitment of players earlier than the last-ditch intake of bargain basement rejects in the two weeks before the start of this season.
Cup fever was growing slowly among supporters of both Clubs in the Golden Eagle during a pre-match get-together, and it stepped up a pace when the TV was switched on for the BT Sport coverage starting at 7:00pm, which included the draw for the FA Cup 3rd round.
News had broken recently about the financial plight of Latics, and the imposition of a transfer embargo to add to the apparent League goals embargo imposed by the players. We watched the draw hoping for a potential financial windfall, but it was met with some disappointment when the first two balls drawn produced a trip to Ipswich for the winners of tonight’s game.
The last time Latics played Lincoln City was in the 1998/99 season in Division Two, when six points were gratefully received from the Imps. That visit to Sincil Bank sticks in my mind because of the admission charge, which was extortionate. It was fixed on the basis that Manchester City were in the same Division, and they would take massive support. They could not be charged the ‘extortionate’ admission in isolation, so every visiting club’s supporters had to suffer likewise.
The name ‘Imps’ originates from a legend which tells us that when the Devil’s Imps were making mischief, one of them was blown all the way to Lincoln Cathedral. He said he would take the lives of the clergy and the choristers as soon as he had destroyed the furnishing inside the cathedral itself. He had only just started his wicked work when an angel appeared and had him turned to stone.
We walked to the ground over the Sincil Dyke via narrow alleyways, and one of our fellow-supporters had been warned to be wary of some of the locals, who had been known to pick-off visitors. These were probably carrying on the ‘mischievous’ Imp tradition.
The Imps are sponsored by a University which takes its name from Robert Grosseteste, a 13th-century statesman, scholastic philosopher, theologian, scientist and Bishop of Lincoln – much more respected than Sports.Direct.com who sponsor Latics.
They also had a higher average home attendance than Latics, and were unbeaten since 24 September. They had scored 49 goals in 23 League games compared to 11 goals in 19 games scored by Latics, and I had seen them on TV looking very impressive as they came back from 0-2 away to Forest Green Rovers to win 3-2.
I was looking forward to seeing Lincoln’s oversized Imp, 16st 10lb Matt Rhead, described by a former teammate as “unplayable”, and by a York journalist as a “behemoth”, who had plundered ten goals this season, having netted 23 for the Imps last term. Although he looked like a ‘pub’ player, he had a better touch on the ball than I’m used to seeing.
The home supporters were up for this game and full of confidence as they created a pre-match display.
The 415 traveling supporters, led by The Athleticos, were playing their part in creating a great atmosphere.
A minute’s silenced was observed prior to kick-off in memory of the Brazilian football club Chapecoense, whose players and staff and journalists had been killed recently in a plane crash.
All we needed was two teams to make it a proper Cup-tie contest, but we were about to discover that only the home team was ready for a contest.
With Latics having a rest due to the home match nine days previous being postponed, it was surprising that Manager Stephen Robinson made five changes from the team which drew 2-2 with Port Vale two weeks ago.
The visitors started brightly as Freddie Ladapo first produced a save from the Lincoln keeper and then should have scored when he knocked the ball wide of the post after being put through by Lee Erwin.
The Imps were also looking dangerous and mid-way through the half, they took the lead through the onrushing Robinson who made no mistake from inside the six-yard box. The home supporters’ celebrations had hardly subsided when Carl Winchester decided to pass the ball to Hawkridge, who doubled the lead. Yet another example to confirm my theory that many of the players are colour-blind.
The hosts continued to dominate and were well worth their half-time lead, with boos and cries of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” echoing in the visitors’ ears from among the travelling supporters. I still had hope, remembering that Luton Town had been 0-2 down at half-time on Saturday against non-leaguers, but had won 6-2. The fog was getting worse and prayers were being said by some for the match to be abandoned.
The second half got underway and surely Latics would be ready to improve on that dreadful performance so far. However, less than two minutes had passed when Robinson capitalised on a loose ball and lifted the ball over Ripley to make it three for the hosts.
The visiting supporters’ frustrations and embarrassment were summed up in their chant “Football League, we’re havin’ a laugh”.
Straws were now being clutched firmly with the thought of AFC Wimbledon being 0-3 down on Sunday away to non-leaguers before winning 4-3. More prayers were said for the fog to get denser.
Suddenly, with nobody anywhere near him, the Lincoln keeper dropped to the ground – I think he was suffering from frostbite due to being inactive for so long.
At last substitutions were made for Latics, and Lee Croft, followed by Billy McKay, made an big impact. Pressure started to tell on the Imps and in the 70th minute captain Peter Clarke led by example heading in at the back post to pull a goal back. The goal was greeted with the visiting supporters’ ironic chant of “Oldham’s scored a goal”.
Three minutes later and Athletic were back in the game as Erwin flicked the ball into the path of Billy McKay, who lifted the ball over the keeper and into the far corner to make it 3-2.
Now the chant of “Oldham’s scored two goals’ was accompanied with renewed belief and loud support urging the team to get the equalizer.
At least six additional minutes’ play was announced and the fog was now so dense we could only guess what was going on at the far end, as Latics mounted a very late challenge.
If there had been another 20 minutes to play the game would have had to be abandoned, but it would have been a travesty for the Imps if they had been denied their deserved victory.
In the 20 seasons in football’s third tier, Latics had played 12 games against non-league clubs, winning 9 and drawing 3, so this bunch of misfit players had created history of the wrong kind in game 13, as the last defeat to a non-league club was 44 years ago. What about ‘Redfearn’s Turf’ I hear you ask? I now find that Neil spent two years playing for the Imps!
After the game, Manager Stephen Robinson admitted his embarrassment at the performance, took full responsibility for the defeat and apologized to the supporters.
That’s the FA Cup financial dream dashed for another season – let’s hope the Club survives its money problems long enough to take part in next season’s competition.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:44|