Saturday, 9 July 2016

Worksop Town 0 v Lincoln City XI 2 - PSF

Saturday 9th July 2016
Pre-Season Friendly
at the Windsor Foodservice Stadium
Babbage Way, Sandy Lane, Worksop
Worksop Town (0) 0
Lincoln City (1) 2
Jack Wetherall 4, Morgan Penfold 53
Admission £5. Programme £1. Attendance 319
Flickr photographs from this game, click HERE
8 Trialist family members in Tigers squad today.
The eldest one was on nights on Wednesday.
Worksop Town's first ever game at Sandy Lane, long before they went into exile and returned to the ground as tenants, via Hucknall, Ilkeston and Retford; was a friendly against Lincoln City.
In the interim, it would fill several weighty volumes of x-rated horror stories to tell the who tale of what has gone on since that fateful evening, but the club appears to be on a steady(ish) footing at present, so I won't pick over the bones of that sorry mess at this juncture.
The Imps had already played a friendly against Evo-Stik Northern Premier League club Grantham Town last night, which they won 5-1, so we figured that today's game at the Windsor Foodservices Stadium, would probably be a great excuse to run the rule over some of their younger players, who would more than likely be making up the numbers up against Worksop Town.
Lincoln City's youth team have a good number of academy lads who impressed me no end when I watched them a handful of times last season... and those same players certainly excelled and made a mixed Tigers side look decidedly average this afternoon.
In the event, the visitors fielded eleven players under the age of 18 in total and a good few under 21's as well. 
Not that these kind of statistics really count for very much, or cut much ice with me. If they're good enough, they're old enough and they're big enough. 
When all is said and done they are academy players, who train full time and are now only a step away from the first team at any given time... and when/if they get the call, they've got to be ready. 
And a good few of these Lincoln hopefuls certainly already are.
The team sheet posted above is massively inaccurate as regards the numbers of the Lincoln players, one prime example being Jack Wetherall, who was actually wearing the number 6. We recognised him from his trademark 'big hair', but a slow to react Tigers defence evidently hadn't spotted him arriving at the back post as he nudged home a right wing corner, via a slight deflection, after just four minutes.
Testing himself against Adam Somes, proved to be a good test for Wetherall.
The Tigers new addition from Clipstone isn't reluctant to put himself about and will become a big crowd favourite at Worksop for his competitive edge and combativeness, I am sure. Particularly if he can curb some of his excesses, like the kind of unnecessary lunge he made on an Imps player out on the left hand side of the halfway line, that would have earned him a card of one colour or another, if this would've been anything other than a practice match. As it was, he got away with a bollocking from the referee.
Hopefully he will be focussed on what he's really good at and capable of this season, because with only a small amount of fine tuning, Somes is the kind of striker who will scare defences in the NCEL half to death. I'm backing him to succeed... but get your head down and let your feet do your talking Adam!
Jack Hawkins, with his diminutive stature and great knack of shielding the ball, was a great asset for Mark Shaw's side. Despite his size, he is hard to knock off the ball and a nightmare to try turning. His non stop running and distribution were the Tigers main supply line, as he stood out in a five man midfield with Worksop sticking to the 3-5-2 format that they tried out at Ollerton on Wednesday night.
I used to love it when Jack was coming through the ranks at Mansfield Town and people would make disparaging remarks about his size, saying things like "Oh, it's nice of you to give the mascot a game", before he ran rings around the opposition and tore them a new arsehole.
The three wise monkeys
Mark Shaw and the Tigers faithful are cetainly enthusiastic about his return to the club.
The home side had their moments, with the vastly under rated Mitch Husbands making all of the right runs and Richard Adams getting forward in support, but they drew a blank and by half time had goalkeeper Ryan Graves to thank for keeping the visitors lead down to a single goal lead.
HT: Tigers 0 v Imps 1
The visitors fielded a younger side in the second half than they had started with and while Worksop persevered with their 3-5-2 line up, though it curtailed some of Lincolns passing in the middle of the park, they were quick to hit the Tigers down the flanks, where James Caton down the left, ably assisted by the Imps full back Riley Thompson and in particular Elliott Hodge on the right of the visitors attack were pulling Mark Shaw's side all over the place.
I'd go so far as to say, judging him on both previous performances I've witnessed first hand, Hodge is a rising star in the making and he was by far the best footballer out on the park this afternoon, by some way.
Elliott Hodge
With his slightly more famous father, former England World Cup star Steve Hodge, watching on from the back of the stand, young Hodge put on a virtuoso second half performance, which was the highlight of a stop/start forty fives minutes that featured no small amount of Lincoln dominance and a lorra, lorra substitutions.
Graves failed to gather Andy Wright's cross and Morgan Penfold got to the loose ball and stabbed it home, with Adams making a last ditch attempt to hook the ball away.
Hodge appeared to have won a penalty, when Worksop couldn't get the ball off of him as he twisted and turned into the area, but the benevolent referee kept Worksop in the game by decreeing that the offence had taken place a fraction outside the box. Hodge dusted himself down and crashed the resulting free kick against the underside of the crossbar and bounced down on the line before it was cleared.
Evidently you don't get Russian linesmen or goal line technology in Worksop! Retford United had a perfectly legit goal ruled out at the same end of the pitch last season... just saying.
Hodge created two more chances for himself, but Graves was determine to atone for his solitary error over the course of the game and was determined not to be beaten again and he saved well from the Imps danger man, before one of the Tigers young trialists took over in goal.
The home side took a break from chasing the Imps shadows and began to try mounting a comeback, but as Husband picked up a pass and sped past two flatfooted defenders, he was pulled back for being offside, which seemed a bit harsh, but even if he had got the better of Richard Walton in the Imps goal, a 1-2 final scoreline would've flattered the Tigers, because the predominantly teenage visiting side were well in control and really threatening to turn the screw now.
It was a real case of boys against men out there ;-)
Besides, Walton is as good a keeper as I've seen in the Football League Youth Alliance over the last couple of years. He's very highly rated and not without good reason... and Jack Fixter would probably have caught Husbands up and clattered him anyway. 
He's strong in the tackle but never seems shy about taking one for the team or putting a foot in. 
That is a compliment by the way, albeit an ever so slightly veiled one.
FT: Worksop Town 0 v Lincoln City 2
Mark Shaw will be pleased that his side now have two games in quick succession at the Windsor Foodservices Stadium to work on a few things that were highlighted today; one at home v. FC Halifax Town on Monday and an away game against an Handsworth Parramore side on Tuesday.
He'll have to write today's defeat off as an afternoon where his players merely worked on building up their match fitness, if not their sharpness.. that will come in time, once the newcomers gel together and are all available for selection. 
But today the fact of the matter is... the best team won and probably not by as big a margin as their time on the ball merited.
Lincoln's youngsters impressed a lot of people today. 
They're going to be there, or thereabouts in the development leagues this season.
Well played Imps!