Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Lincoln United 2 v Chasetown 0 - EvoStik NPL Div 1 South

"So where is Chase then!?", asked Mrs Waite as we ventured (very slowly) towards Ashby Avenue along Skellingthorpe Road, with a long row of stationary traffic and brake lights ahead of us, which caused the Chasetown players to arrive late and a subsequent slightly delayed kick off. 
"I don't think you've ever taken me to a Chase Town game before"
I ignored her.
"How long have this Chase Town team been a Conference club then? Or are they playing the Imps in a cup game tonight?"
I was still trying to ignore her.
We pulled into United's car park and she spotted a blue and white scarf draped across the rear window of a Honda Civic.
"Oh! That Chasetown! We've been there, haven't we? And this is Lincoln United. I thought it would be a bit odd if you were taking me to watch City!"
Indeed it would be my dear, now shurrup!
She wasn't being quite as gormless tonight, as the time that we went to see Scotland play New Zealand at Tynecastle, the home of the Heart of Midlothian FC and she'd inquired if it was a European qualifier. But before I picked her up from Lincoln High Street, mien spouse had had a looong day blowing our offspring's inheritance in a forbidden zone of the city called 'the shops' (because the four hours we spent in Meadowhall AKA Meadowhell last night, is never enough!) and the potential for more blonde moments is never too far away on nights like this.
Tuesday 13th December 2016
EvoStik Northern Premier League, Division 1 South
at the Sun Hat Villas & Resorts Stadium,
Ashby Avenue, Hartsholme, Lincoln
Lincoln United (0) 2
Matt Cotton 74
Jordan Hempenstall 86
Chasetown FC (0) 0
Admission £8. Programme £1. Attendance 135
Around twenty minutes before kick off, we maneuvered our automobile into a space close to and facing the exit gates, for a quick escape after the game had ended. The other cars that arrived just after us, contained around half a dozen players from the visiting team, who had obviously come the same 'quick way' as us and got stuck in the traffic as well. 
A two hour drive and a quick warm up were less than ideal preparation for an EvoStik League game on a pitch that was likely to cut up on a mild, but very damp night in Hartsholme.
As always at Ashby Avenue, we received a warm and friendly greeting upon entering the turnstiles, for the fourth time this season... and the Whites have won every time that I have seen them in action this term, albeit by the skin of their teeth the last time I was here.
The Chasetown secretary was hanging around outside the visitors dressing room, clutching his team sheet book and looking perplexed, as he waited to see who had turned up in time for the scheduled kick off, so that he could complete his paperwork. 
I really miss undertaking such paperwork chores (that generally encompass hour upon hour, day after day... and not just the half a hour that everybody sees you on duty, prior to games), where you are expected to take charge of circumstances and events that are seriously beyond anybody's control and instill a modicum of organisation and calm to any given situation at a moments notice, when seemingly everybody else in the ground (and beyond) is pointing straight at you and demanding answers, that you are apparently supposed to magic up like a rabbit out of a bag.
No, I don't actually, I am being sarcastic, it's thankless task and should only ever be undertaken by those with extreme masochistic tendencies. 
I for one will never, ever take on  that sort of role or ball ache of a position again, not ever!
Watch this space ;-)
Subsequently the game kicked late, but only by around five minutes.
Lincoln made a lively start and inside the first two minutes Jordan Hempenstall fizzed a long range shot just past the right hand post.
But two fairly evenly matched and hard working sides were cancelling each other out across the width of the pitch as the game became a bit of a battle for the midfield, with neither team really creating anything of note in the way of goal scoring chances for a while until Andy Toyne unleashed a twenty yard free kick just past the right hand post around the twenty minute mark.
Toyne threatened the Scholars goal once again, when he skipped over two challenges before shooting over the bar from inside the visitors area.
Michael Jacklin launched a long probing ball towards the visitors penalty spot, that Leon Miles headed away, but the ball fell to Hempenstall who had taken up a position just outside the area and he crashed a first time shot inches over the bar.
I told my spouse all about my recently acquired knowledge on 'Hempy': He's impressed me a lot this season, both on and off the ball. His movement off the ball and positioning is almost instinctive. He knows when to make all of the right runs and when to stand off and conserve his energy, while picking up the scraps; like from that sort of clearance there.
He's playing quite deep for a number nine, but he's more than just a target man centre forward and contributes a lot to the actual shape of Lincoln's game from playing that bit deeper. His finishing has let him down  tonight, but he doesn't let that get to him and he'll keep plugging away.
She shot me a look that suggested I may as well have been translating a lengthy Renaissance period algorithm into Sanskrit for her, nodded politely and returned to her vital quest of catching Pokemon on her Sony Experia, while humming along to the Michael Buble' Xmas songs dirge she was listening to on her earplugs.
Philistine! Here I am generously bestowing some really interesting knowledge on my good lady and it's going straight over her head.
This will be the very last time that I'll ever take her out "somewhere nice" on our anniversary again.
The visitors were finally building up a head of steam, following their slow start and Mitchell Piggon did well to win a shoulder to shoulder race for the ball with James Blundeon, before forcing Jake Turner to parry the ball out of play for a corner with a thumping angled shot.
Turner proved his worth again, by punching Josh Ruff's cross away and United cleared their lines and broke forward on the counter attack.
Jermaine Johnson struggled to clear the ball on the edge of the Chasetown area as it sat up awkwardly and could only knock it straight into the path of Rob Norris, who was also impeded by the sticky underfoot conditions and his attempted shot rolled harmlessly to Curtis Pond off of the White's number seven's shin pad.
Hempenstall broke through the left channel deep into the Scholars area but the visitors full back Matthias Curley was tracking his run and as he blocked any chance of the Lincoln striker making a cross, Hempenstall grabbed his opponent and spun him around a full 360 degrees and inevitably the referee blew up for a foul.
"Bloody hell! What was that for now!?" moaned a local without a trace of irony in his voice, as  all those say around him stifled a chuckle.
Pond, in the Chasetown goal seemed happy to settle for a point now as he took an eternity over playing the ball forward at every single opportunity. But his 'gamesmanship' almost proved to be his undoing as he slipped thirty five yards from his goal as he tried to kick long and feebly toe poked the ball towards Hempenstall in the centre circle, who tried to catch pond out with a long punt, that dropped onto the roof of the net.
"Ooh! That was him wasn't it!? The positional awareness man?" chuckled a female voice from inside a pile of warm clothing occupying the seat next to me.
Meanwhile Pond still wasn't looking comfortable with his kicking as Norris and Cotton chased down a back pass from Johnson that held up in the mud, but he just about launched it to safety.
Cotton was fouled by Rhys Thompson, five yards outside the Chasetown area. And Ryan Brooks put a dent in the advertising hoardings with a full bore strike from the free kick.
It was the first time that Thompson had put a foot out of place and he had looked like one of the better players on the pitch so far tonight, covering his own berth while getting forward in support when required. He was dealing with the conditions better than most and was very comfortable on the ball.
Both sides came close to snatching the lead just before the interval: Norris saw off two challenges and crossed to Hempenstall, who left the ball for Luke Smithson, arriving behind him at speed, but the Whites number eleven shot wide.
And right on the stroke of half time, Turner saved at full stretch from Jack Langston's long range shot and held onto the ball with Piggon moving in to take advantage if the ball had run loose.
HT: Whites 0 v Scholars 0
Image result for evostik league
The first chance of the second half fell to Norris who shot on the turn but Pond was well placed to make a save.
Piggon was causing the home defence all manner of problems now and demonstrating that he didn't suffer from bashfulness in and around the final third when the going got tough, while Curley's cross into the Whites area appeared to hit a defenders arm, but not according to the match officials.
Matt Cotton saw two shots from outside the area charged down, but Chasetown were making a real go of things now.
That man Piggon was in the thick of it again, delivering the ball across the face of United's goal, but Sam Belcher's flick was deflected past the post as one or two Chasetown followers appealed for handball again.
Michael Williams and Jack Langston were making good use of the width of the pitch for the visitors, who were enjoying their best spell of the match.
Smithson and Thompson were having their own personal battle at the other end.
Although Lincoln had looked like the better side for the opening half a hour or so, it possibly went against the run of play, when Brooks left wing corner was hooked back across the face of goal and then scrambled away towards Cotton, who turned on the spot and caught the ball sweetly, to bulge the net and leave Pond grasping at fresh air.
Luke Hornsey, Lincoln's right back was running himself to a standstill as Chasetown looked to take the game to their hosts down the right flank.
The referee was blowing up for all manner of sall indiscretions but missed one or two really naughty off the ball transgressions. I am not going to grass anybody up, it isn't in my nature, but if Lincoln Rugby Club are ever in need of a sturday fly half, then I know just the man.
Smithson raced past Thompson and dropped an arcing ball towards the back stick, to where Hempenstall nodded the ball narrowly wide.
"Ooh good run, well anticipated number nine!"
I'm ignoring her again... sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.
We might only be twenty five minutes drive away from home, but it is still a bloody long way to walk woman!
Norris dropped a shoulder, got past Curley on the left hand side of the area, but skied his shot.
One nil was not going to be enough to see off this resilient and battling Chasetown side and it was going to take a moment of genius magic to put this game to bed.
Cometh the hour, well it was the eighty sixth minute but let's not split hairs, Mr Hempenstall, laying deep to good effect, picked up the ball out on the left wing near the dug outs, motored forward a few yards and, spotting that Pond was off of his line, sent a dipping angled thirty five yard over stranded keeper's head to score the home side's second goal with an awesome strike.
A female face peered from inside the faux fur around her hood: "Was that who I think it was!?"
The very same! 'Aye! But I'll let you off, some people know their football, while others should stick to collecting Pokemon'
Was I going to gloat all the way home? You bet I was... and we were going to go the longer way back via Gainsborough too!
Chasetown were deflated, possibly even devastated to go two behind late in the game, after having put so much hard graft.
As the clocked ticked down, Ruff shot wide and Langston hit Blunden with an attempted shot, but the three points were all Lincoln's and they weren't about to surrender them now.
The Whites saw out the four added minutes safely and took a big step up to thirteenth in the table, where they have games in hand over most of the clubs above them. Chasetown are still in seventh, some five points head of the Whites.
FT: Lincoln United 2 v Chasetown 0
In the final analysis, two quality strikes from Cotton and Hempenstall were all that separated these two sides on a strength sapping surface, over the course of ninety plus minutes.
'Our lass' thought it had been a more even game than the two goal margin of victory and suggested suggested that she would have to see more of United's number nine in action before conceding that I was right about him all along.
But hey! What makes her think she is going to any more games with me this season after tonight!?
'Twas a proper upat at 'em game on a pitch that will look quite poorly in the morning and thoughm moreover, it was a case of guts over guile tonight, as dictated by the horses for courses conditions, this encounter was absorbing and compelling enough and even entertaining in it's own way.
You couldn't fault either side for their effort.