Match Report: Lincoln City 3-1 Port Vale
Tuesday night at Colchester was probably the worst 90 minutes of football I have witnessed Lincoln City play since the Cowley brothers appeared on the scene before the start of last season. From what Danny said in his post-match interview, I think he had similar thoughts. It was therefore not unexpected that wholesale changes would be made for the home game Vs Port Vale a few days later but even then, Danny was able to spring a surprise or two. In my match preview, I suggested that neither Michael Bostwick, Sam Habergham nor Josh Ginnelly would feature in the game; how wrong could I have been as all three started as did Luke Waterfall, Matt Rhead and Matty Green (as predicted by yours truly). In essence this meant out went Rob Dickie, Sean Long, Billy Knott, Nathan Arnold, Ollie Palmer and Elliott Whitehouse, all of whom found themselves warming the bench. Wholesale changes indeed!
What we got in return was an excellent display of attacking and passing football which was a far cry from Tuesday's poor showing. Early doors and Ginnelly went very close with an effort which came off the bottom of the post, and may even have been deflected there by 'keeper Ryan Boot's boot to boot (sorry about that, I couldn't resist it!) following an excellent cross to the far post by the immediately dangerous Harry Anderson. Not long after that and Anderson again broke free of his marker and whipped in a very dangerous cross from the by-line to the near post where Green was superbly positioned to head the ball home (very gleefully) from about five yards. It was clear to all present what that meant not only to Green but also to the rest of the team and all supporters who celebrated the goal louder than most of late. A quality goal from open play early on was just the tonic that the team, the management and the supporters needed.
Bostwick broke down a couple of Vale attacks in his own inimitable way, well supported by Alex Woodyard who certainly looked to be back on song. It was not all one-way traffic, however, as Vale twice went close with the second, a stinging shot from James Gibbons which stroked the top of the bar. Then Anderson had a shot which unfortunately sailed over the bar; he just couldn't get his feet and stance right for that one. A corner for Vale then ensued and Tom Pope got a header in which looked destined to be the equaliser before Rhead headed the ball back off the line. Phew! Then, as the fourth official was about to announce two minutes' added time, Ginnelly surprisingly took a corner from the left which didn't beat the first man and Vale broke out of defence. A second bit of luck then came their way as the ball bobbled and bounced in their favour before Pope crossed the ball from the right which eventually fell just right for Danny Pugh who smashed an unstoppable volley past the hapless Josh Vickers.
Half-time: Lincoln City 1 Port Vale 1
The second half began with City on the front foot again and before 60 seconds were up, we had gained another corner which was delivered by Neil Eardley whose ball landed at the feet of Bostwick but he couldn't get enough space to force the ball towards goal. Then, soon after, Eardley had an effort scrambled away by Boot and it looked only a matter of time before City would regain the lead. The inevitable happened in the 53rd minute with Green again at the centre of proceedings when he couldn't find a way through the packed defence, he played a lovely back heel which was hacked out but only as far as Bostwick who planted a superb right-foot effort into the bottom right of Boot's goal. Again, the celebrations by both the team and the fans were pretty amazing.
Very soon after this, Rhead appeared to have been brought to the ground to loud appeals from players and fans alike for a penalty but referee Andy Haines was having none of it. City weren't finished yet, though, as another strong attack down the left resulted in a very good cross by Habergham who found the head of Rhead. He nodded down and there was Waterfall to bundle the ball home with his left foot to notch his first of the season and City's third of the day. It could easily have been more as City continued to press during the last 20 minutes. A resounding victory was saluted by the 7,000+ Imps fans inside the ground and we all went home very happy. We now have a break from the League for two weeks which should give time for those carrying knocks to recover full as we head into December.
Next up: Accrington Stanley in the Checkatrade Trophy followed by a long trip to Yeovil before again entertaining Accrington in the League.
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City FC for the photographs.