Monday, 30 January 2017

Gainsborough Trinity 1 v Lincoln City 5 - Lincs U21 Development League

Monday 30th January 2017
Lincolnshire U21 Development League
at the Martin & Co. Arena, the Northolme, Gainsborough
Gainsborough Trinity (1) 1
Jack Wilkinson 31
Lincoln City (1) 5
Cenk Acar 44 pen, Jack McMenemy 51
Archie Moyses 67, Taylor Miles 74 pen
Kielen Gretton 80
Admission £2
Gainsborough Trinity
Blake Caldwell, Dan Gardner, Lee Betts, Jacob Robinson, Charlie Mann, Brad Bateson, Joe Smith, Josh Hobson, Jack Wilkinson, Jacob Fenton, Joe Edwards
Substitutes: Alex Hayes, Ben Turner, Joe Pettit, Shaiden Millican, Henry Mallett
Lincoln City:
Reece Start, Jack Fixter, Ryley Thompson, Taylor Miles, Jack Weatherell, Luke Andersen, Danny Horton, Archie Moyses, Jack McMenemy, CenkAcar, Reece Robinson-Jones
Substitutes: Chris Hall, Ritchie Burdett, Luke White, Kielen Gretton, Michael Antkowiak
I guess it would be wrong to say anything about Lincoln City at this current moment in time, without mentioning their first team's quite remarkable FA Cup run and slant at promotion back to the Football League.
Rest assured, I am well placed to comment on the fact that Division 4, or the SkyBet EFL League 2 if you really must insist on the basement division it's Sunday name, isn't always the holy grail that it is cracked up to be.
Nevertheless, it is where Lincoln City belong, while they currently stand out like a sore thumb when the non league results are read out... and have done for far too long now.
Good luck at Burnley and enjoy the cup run all you Imps fans (even Adam Barlow).
And I hope that you win promotion this time round too, if only to cut down on our petrol consumption and train fares when we're travelling to away games next term.
Assuming, of course, that the mighty Stags are still plying their trade in the basement division.
Because, if Lincoln can turf Ipswich Town and Championship title contenders Brighton & Hove Albion out of the FA Cup, then the Stags can make up a two point gap and gatecrash the play off party too, because football is a magical game, where 'owt can happen... and dreams can come true. You just ask Gabrielle!
But tonight was a different kettle of fish, as the development sides from two ex Football League clubs came face to face in a Lincolnshire derby, on a night that was unseasonably mild up until just after half time when the temperature plummeted sharply and reminded me of just how nesh I have become in my old age.
Trinity started the game well enough and their efforts early in the game were rewarded when they took the lead just after the half hour mark, but Lincoln looked stronger all over the pitch and once they had absorbed a spell of pressure from Gainsborough and started to take a foothold, there was no looking back for the Imps... and having drawn level just before the break they were dominant in the second half.
Suffice to say the full time score was an accurate reflection of the game overall.
It was refreshing to see both sides using their Under 21 sides as development teams, when so many teams seem to be using these sort of fixtures as glorified reserve games.
Surely, it should be a case of either/or, shouldn't it? 
And any club who wants to blood a conveyor belt of young talent and have an outlet for their stiffs to have a run out, really needs to have both and Under 21 and reserve team. Sure the edges would probably have to blur and merge from time to time; but while first team squad and fringe players (and those coming back from injury) need to stay match fit and sharp, the crop of youngsters who are coming up through the ranks, need to be playing at a competitive level on a regular basis too.
Some players at league club academies flourish when they go out on loan to non league clubs to get roughed up a bit and learn the ways of the world, while others need nurturing for a while longer, where they will benefit from going under the wing of specialist coaching. The crux of the matter is, individual players peak in their development at a different pace and as a consequence, only a flexible template will stop far too many of them slipping through the net.
I had watched the vast majority of tonight's Imps side less than a week ago, when they travelled to Clipstone and held the table topping, reigning Under 18 league champions Mansfield Town... I am contractually obliged to use the preceding nine words in every single report I write ;-) ... to a draw, in a game they came very close to winning.
The visitors keeper Reece Start made thefirst save inside the opening two minutes, when Joe Edwards tried his luck with a well struck free kick from long range.
Joe Smith and Jack Wilkinson were making all of the right runs and offering themselves up as an outlet up front for Trinity, but Jack Fixter, Luke Anderson and (in particular) Jack Wetherell, were on top of their game (again) in defence for City.
For the record, Wetherell is now famous in our household, because when Lincoln City recently played Mick McCarthy's Ipswich Town in t'cup and the highlights were on the telly, my missus pointed out that: "Hey! That kid who plays for Lincoln Under 18's with all that hair is on the bench tonight!"
Blake Caldwell in the Trinity goal, had to be alert to Reece Robinson-Jones sprint forward when Jack McMenemy slipped a defence splitting pass into his path, but the young 'Holy Blues' keeper smothered the ball.
Just after the half hour mark, Gainsborough played the ball forward out of defence and Jacob Robinson looked up in the centre circle and spotted that Wilkinson had escaped the attentions of Anderson and dropped a great pass into his path, that the Trinity striker controlled first time, burst forward and planted a shot that nestled just inside the left hand post, across the path of Start who was advancing quickly from his line.
I have seen Wilkinson playing for the youth teams at several clubs over the last two seasons and he's never given less than 100% anywhere he's been.
Alas, the goal had the same effect on Lincoln that you would get if you smeared your naked body in honey and started prodding at a bees nest and offering the occupants out for a scrap.
Charlie Mann and Brad Bateson in the middle of the Gainsborough defence, were tested to the max. as Lincoln swarmed forward.
Archie Moyses crossed to McMenemy, who laid the ball across the face of the home sides goal, but Taylor Miles struck his shot over the bar.
Mann and Bateson blocked shots in quick succession from Acar and McMenemy as the visitors laid siege to the Trinity goal.
But Gainsborough almost made it two nil from a counter attack, when Jake Fenton broke away at speed down the right wing from Mann's clearance and delivered a cross to Joe Smith, whose eighteen yard shot was tipped over by Start, who made an excellent one handed save.
Image result for gainsborough trinity
The Northolme. I didn't take this aerial picture, obviously.
But you can just about see the place where I work in 
the top right hand corner, behind a building site..
Despite being spared a two goal deficit by the agility of their keeper, the Imps were still looking likely to pull level any time soon... and it took another good block from Caldwell to keep out a thumping shot from Miles, before McMenemy rolled the ball into the path of Acar, who battled his way towards the Trinity goal, running shoulder to shoulder with Mann, before being pushed off the ball as the home side conceded a penalty in the final minute of the first half.
Caldwell dived the right way, but the power of Acar's spot kick beat him and the two sides went in level at the break.
HT: 1-1
Right at the start of the second half, Trinity started with a flurry, when Robinson played the ball forward to Wilkinson, who turned on the spot and played the ball away from his marker to Edwards, but Danny Hurton got a foot in and cleared up the danger for Lincoln.
But from hereon in, the visitors virtually took over and Trinity were chasing shadows for a while me because of the speed, accuracy and frequency that the Imps were knocking the ball around the pitch.
Hurton picked out Robinson-Jones on the left flank, he crossed to Acar who held off a challenge and fed the ball sideways to McMenemy, who had ghosted past the Trinity defence on their blind side, into a bloody great big area of free space and made no mistake from ten yards out.
McMenemy was almost on the score sheet again, after some good footwork by Ryley Thompson opened up the home side down the left wing, but Caldwell got down to block his shot.
Wetherell played a long pass out of defence towards Acar, who took the ball as far as the dead ball line, before turning back and drilling it across the face of goal, where it narrowly cleared the right hand post.
McMenemy shot just wide from the edge of the area and appeared to tweak his hamstring as he let fly, but ran any ill effects off after hobbling around for a few minutes, even though it seemed to slow him down slightly when he came second in  a race for the ball with Caldwell after Miles had delivered a decent cross from Fixter's throw in.
Josh Hobson tried to catch Start out with an ambitious free kick from forty yards out, but the Imps keeper punch the ball away as far as Moyses, who hooked it away back into the Trinity half.
It was looking virtually inevitable that Lincoln would add to the scoring tonight, such was the balance of play. Miles and Moyses combined well from a free kick routine, picking out McMenemy on the edge of the area, who rolled the ball back into the path of Miles to have a crack at goal, that Caldwell did well to save at full stretch.
The cold was creeping into my bones, but it was just about bearable and not half as annoying as the bell ringing practice at the nearby All Saints Church, who made an unearthly racket for most of the night. Each to their own I s'pose!
Fixter had a shot blocked by Mann, Caldwell ran from his area to clear the ball as McMenemy chased down a long ball from Wetherell and Mann and McMenemy set up a chance for Moyses from an interchange of passes that Caldwell managed to hold by the  foot of the right hand post.
But Moyses scored from Lincoln's next attack, when Acar held off a challenge on the right hand side of the Trinity area and knocked a square pass to the Imps number eight, who swept it past Caldwell from ten yards.
Gainsborough mounted a rare attack and Hobson wasn't very far away from giving the scoreline a more respectable look, when he diverted Lee Betts left wing cross just past the post.
Image result for gainsborough trinity the66pow
Acar homed in on Caldwell's goal once more and Mann clipped his heels as he got his shot away, so the referee blew up and pointed to the spot again.
With Acar feeling the effects of the challenge and subsequently being substituted, Miles took responsibility for taking the penalty and at four one, the game was beyond salvaging for Gainsborough now.
Although Wilkinson curled a shot into the arms of start, after Wetherell had uncharacteristically sliced a clearance into the path of the Trinity striker.
Both teams made several substitutions and one of the players who Lincoln introduced, Kielen Gretton, netted the goal of the night, when he picked the ball up in midfield advanced forward and spanked a shot past Caldwell from all of thirty yards.
In the final minute, Wilkinson broke forward through the left channel, but there were no other Trinity players up in support and the move broke down as Anderson blocked the route to goal.
FT: Gainsborough Trinity U18 1 v Lincoln City 5
Image result for Lincolnshire Under 21 development league