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The Road to Cardiff : Season 2002/3

By Nathan Jackson
July 29 2006

A review of the season that Imps fans thought would never happen. A season where "Less Skill, More Passion" could not be more perfectly personified.

Kidderminster Harriers 1 Lincoln City 1

The Imps first game of the season saw them travel to Aggborough Stadium followed by an impressive 500 turnout from the Lincoln fans who were cramped into the incredibly small away end. The game started at a slow pace with the Imps having the slight advantage and that resulted in a corner in the 12th minute. Paul Smith took the corner which was met by the head of new signing, Simon Weaver, who scored the first goal of the season with emphatic header into the top left hand corner. The 1st half stayed at the same pace with Lincoln enjoying the majority of the play. In the 2nd half, Lincoln started how they had left off and had a great opportunity to widen the gap when Paul Smith ran one on one with the keeper but somehow managed to hit it straight at the keeper from 6 yards out. Then on the hour mark, Kidderminster drew level when a free kick was headed in by Kidderminster`s caravan dweller striker, Bo Henrikson. The game was more even now but soon became Kidderminster’s game after the referee made numerous refereeing errors which even lead the Kidderminster fans to admit afterwards that if they’d had a different ref, they’d have not even scored. Dene Cropper was then sent off for his second bookable offence. In the very last minute, Kidderminster got a penalty after Henrikson was hauled over in the area but thankfully Marriott saved a good penalty. The game ended and it was a hard fought away draw. Not a bad way to start off the season at all.

Lincoln City 2 Rochdale 0

Not a lot of action in the first home game of the season with goal mouth action very rarely happening. The first note of action came when Scott Willis` 30 yard piledriver smacked against the crossbar. This happening in the 60 minute. The Imps however took the lead on the 80 minute mark when Simon Yeo ran all the way from his own half, past 4 or 5 defenders and then
unleashed an unstoppable stop from the corner of the 18 yard box with no keeper in the world would have been able to save. Not bad for a home debut goal. A truly great goal that will be remember as one of the greatest goals of this generation. The Imps added to their lead only minutes before the end of the game when Dene Cropper headed the ball over the line for what was his first ever goal for Lincoln. The game ended with a great ovation for the Lincoln players. Even though it was only the 2nd game of the season, the Imps fans were incredibly optimistic about the coming season, especially after finding out the team had got into an automatic promotion spot since going up in the 1997/8 season. But could it last?

Lincoln City 0 Carlisle United 1

No was the answer as without a doubt, this was the most controversial match of the season. The `action` started as early as the 7th minute when just before a Carlisle free kick was taken, Simon Weaver and Carlisle`s Richie Foran were both sent off for allegedly fighting. This was one of the quickest sending offs in Lincoln`s history, if not the fastest. The game lacked a lot of goalmouth action until the 56th minute when Richard Logan handled inside the area to give Carlisle a penalty. It was placed away in the bottom right hand corner giving Carlisle a shock 1-0 lead. Then another player was sent off for punching out at Lincoln`s Simon Yeo. Then Yeo gained a penalty when a likely goal was denied by shirt pulling in the area and the striker took the penalty himself but unfortunately it hit the post and rolled along the line and around the other post and out for a goal kick. Then the most controversial moment in the match. In the 90th minute, just after an excellent shot by Adam Buckley from 40 yards, the Carlisle scorer, Trevor Molloy was sent off which sparked violence from the Carlisle chairman Michael Knighton. Knighton went down to the players tunnel and started fights with stewards and match officials. The game ended with a chorus of boos from the home fans after they slipped down ten places from 3rd to 13th. The first loss of the season even though we had a 1 man advantage for a lot of the match and even a 2 man advantage at one time.

Boston United 2 Lincoln City 0

An extremely bitter pill was swallowed by the Imps in the first ever league meeting between the Lincolnshire rivals. The match started furiously and Lincoln had the ball in the net with only 5 minutes gone from a Simon Yeo shot after a free kick, however, the offside flag was raised so it remained 0-0. The game was end to end stuff with neither team looking like scoring. Then Boston took a surprise lead on the 30 minute mark when a lob from 20 yards deceived Marriott and nestled into the top right hand corner. In the 2nd half, Simon Yeo got sent off after kicking out at a Boston player and Lincoln
struggled from this point on with Daryl Clare constantly winding up the Lincoln fans before making it 2-0 in the 89th minute when he slotted in a cross to sink the Lincoln fan’s hearts. Even louder boos were heard than the ones against Carlisle and in the space of 7 days, City had slipped a massive 16 places and found themselves 19th and fearing that the pundits pre season
predication of relegation would come true.

Lincoln City 3 Macclesfield 0

After the embarrassment 2 days later at Boston, City knew that they would have to get back to winning ways against the only side that City achieved the league double over the season before. However, things are never that easy with Lincoln who had Stuart Bimson to thank for clearing a shot off the line after Danny Whitaker hit a shot along the ground past Marriott.
However, Yeo soon put the Imps in front with a very debatable goal. In a crowded penalty area, he shot past the keeper and a defender that was behind the line handled it but it had been judged that the ball had crossed the line and a very unusually mild celebration could be heard around the ground. A similar circumstance in the 2nd half gave the Imps a 2-0 lead when a cross was met by Scott Willis who bicycle kicked the ball over the keeper onto the underside of the bar and then the defender on the line tried desperately to clear it and no-one was entirely sure whether it had crossed or not before it was cleared but the ref allowed it and gave Willis his first goal in a City shirt. However, there was no debate over whether the next shot went over the line or not when Yeo ran through the Macclesfield defence and launched a bullet past the Macclesfield keeper. The game ended with much relief from the City fans who found the club has rose 13 places to 6th. One worrying sign though was that all scorers so far, had come from other clubs. No player who was still with the Imps from the previous season had scored yet.

Shrewsbury 1 Lincoln City 2

In a very uninteresting game, Luke Rodgers gave Shrewsbury a 3rd minute lead when he slotted past Marriott after sloppy defending from the Lincoln defence. Yeo was trying his best at the other end to get the Imps on terms but it seemed like this wouldn’t be his day. In the 2nd half, the trend of new Lincoln players being the only ones to score continued when Adie Mike prodded the ball past the Shrewsbury keeper for a shock equaliser. This set the Imps in motion and quick found themselves on the attack with Simon Yeo running at their defence but was brought down in the area and a penalty was awarded. Sedgemore stepped up to take it and had the chance to become the first `previous season Imp`to score this season and he scored a well placed penalty. The final whistle brought much surprise to the City fans who had waited a long time not only to see an away win, back to back wins for the first time in over 16 months but also a come from behind victory which was extremely rare for Lincoln. City found they had moved up to 5th after this game.

Lincoln City 1 Scunthorpe 0

The 2nd Lincolnshire derby of the season and all Lincoln fans were praying for a better result than the result against Boston. The good thing about Lincoln vs Scunthorpe at Sincil Bank is that there is never a dull game and this one was no different. This game was real end to end stuff. The only game of the game came on the 34th minute when yet another new signing, the giant Ben Futcher rose about the Scunthorpe defence to give the Imps the lead that also angered the 1000 Scunthorpe fans which seemed a pitiful number giving how close Scunthorpe is to Lincoln. Dene Cropper, then had a great opportunity to make it 2-0 when he tried to volley home a cross but fluffed the shot straight into the keepers arms. That was the last real action of the game which saw Lincoln win their 3rd game in a row to see them rise to 4th in the table and only 2 points of the lead of Division 3.

Lincoln City 1 Stockport County 3 - Worthington Cup

The Worthington Cup trail started like the previous 2 had, against a higher division opposition in the form of Carlton Palmer’s recently relegated Stockport County. Lincoln almost took the lead when a Yeo overhead kick hit the post. Stockport took the lead in the 30th when a fluffed shot was returned into the box and Carlton Palmer headed home from only a few yards to put the Division 2 side in the lead. Stockport continued to have the much better chances and made it 2-0 in the 2nd half when more sloppy defending gifted a Stockport player a great opportunity which he took to simply chip the ball over the on-rushing Marriott’s head. City somehow managed to get a goal back when Adie Mike hit a low 12 yard strike past the keeper. City gained momentum and thought they had equalized when Scott Willis headed in 2 minutes afterwards but was harshly adjudged to have fouled the keeper. Willis was then sent off a few minutes later after a Stockport player went up to the referee claiming Willis had spat at him. Willis couldn’t believe it and City’s driving force in this match had gone. A well worked corner then gave Stockport a 3-1 lead and the Imps worthington cup dreams, were over.

Leyton Orient 1 Lincoln City 1

The first half saw 2 goals disallowed, the first was from Adie Mike who headed from a corner only to see the offside flag up. Former Imp Lee Thorpe was them offside after being put through by Jamal Campbell Ryce and chipping over the keeper. He was celebrating for 20 seconds before seeing the flag. 15 minutes from time, City grabbed the lead when Ben Futcher scored in his 2nd league game in a row with another header from a throw in. The Imps thought they’d done enough for a point until with only a minute to go, Lee Thorpe popped up and gave Orient an unlikely equalizer. Still a good away draw though to take to leaders Hartlepool knowing that a win could send us top.

Hartlepool United 2 Lincoln City 1

Lincoln’s hopes of going top escalated as soon as the 50 second mark when that man, Adie Mike headed in a corner to give the Imps an extremely early lead, infact City were top of the table for most of the night. The lead of both the match and the table lasted until the 2nd half when Hartlepool turned the game round in the space of a matter of minutes. Their first game was a overhead kick similar to Scott Willis’ goal against Macclesfield from Hartlepool’s Boyd. Williams then drove a low shot past Marriott and despite very late pressure, Lincoln were unable to avoid their 2nd away defeat of the season.

Lincoln City 2 Southend United 1

City had slipped to 8th but were given a boost in the 52nd minute when Peter Gain became only the 2nd `previous season Imp` to score this season with a low drive from 18 yards after a run the length of the entire pitch. Yeo then popped up to give City a 2 goal advantage with a forceful header from the back past after a corner. Southend managed to get a goal back after a thunderous free kick from Leon Cort but were unable to get another goal. City held on for a much needed win and were back in the playoffs in 5th.

Torquay United 0 Lincoln City 0

A game against a team similar to City in the fact that they were confounding the critics. City, Torquay and Carlisle were picked as the favourites for relegation but only Carlisle were living up to that whilst City and Torquay were challenging at the right end of the table. The first half offered a considerable amount of chances including Torquay hitting the post twice in a minute before then David Graham hit a shot past Marriott that seemed to be putting the seasiders 1-0 up BUT good ol’ Stuart Bimson was on hand to clear it off the line. Dene Cropper then hit the post at the other end after a header. The 2nd half was less exciting with Mark Camm having the only decent chance with a truly excellent strike from 40 yards which only just went wide. A good away draw but worryingly, making it only 1 win in 5 in all competitions.

Lincoln City 1 Bournemouth 2

A tight game ended in City`s 2nd home league defeat of the season. They took the lead in the 12th minute when a corner was passed to 30 yards out from goal where Steven Purches drove a low, hard shot into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. However, 5 minutes later, Dene Cropper equalized with a great goal from the edge of the area when he volleyed home a Mark Bailey cross. In the 60th minute, Cropper was in the thick of the action again gaining a penalty after the Bournemouth keeper had denied him a very likely goal by diving at his legs and totally tripping him up. Paul Smith had the chance to become only the 3rd `previous season Imp` to score this season, although it was a good penalty, Neil Moss saved well. Mark Bailey then made an uncharacteristic mistake to gift a goal to Bournemouth’s Alan Connell which he took very well to give the Southerners a vital away win. Bournemouth would become a major rival at the end of the season.

Bristol Rovers 2 Lincoln City 0

This game made it only one win in 7 and had seriously dented City`s promotion hopes. Bristol dominated the opening minutes with a total of 7 shots in the first 5 minutes compared to the Imps one. The Imps were unlucky to go behind when a shot that was going wide from a Bristol midfielder deflected off Ben Futcher for an unfortunate own goal. The domination continued but Yeo had a great opportunity to get the Imps even when a cross went straight to him but his attempted back heel flick straight past him as it went through his legs and out for a goal kick. The 2nd half began with Lincoln dominating having the best of the play but then Simon Weaver was adjudged to hand ball in the area and Guilano Grazioli scored from the spot to give the relegation candidates a 2-0 lead. The Imps kept heading towards the goal however, not a single shot went on target.

Lincoln City 1 Exeter City 0

Justin Walker back at Sincil Bank could only mean one thing, the Imps were facing the team occupying the 2nd relegation spot. Walker himself had the best chance of the first half when a 30 yard low drive went straight past Alan Marriott and smacked the inside of the post and was unlucky not to have put the underdogs a surprise lead as he saw it trickle outwards and out for a throw in. Exeter were having a much better of the play and it looked unlikely that Lincoln would be unable to stop their rot of 1 win in 7 increasing, that was, until Scott Willis` 25 yard shot that flew into the top left hand corner of the goal with 15 minutes to go. Dene Cropper however almost ruined that when a back pass from the half way line was intercepted by Exeter’s Steve Flack who should have done better than to hit his shot from 5 yards straight at Marriott.

Lincoln City 4 York City 3 - LDV Vans First Round

A match very similar to the Mansfield pre season friendly in that the Imps scored twice in the last minute to come from behind to win. City fielded a team you would have expected to see in one of the reserve games with only 3 first team regulars starting the game. Nothing interesting really happened until the 42nd minute when Simon Yeo scored after intercepting a pass from one
defender to the next and shot from 20 yards out straight past York keeper Fettis. However, 10 minutes after the restart, York snook ahead after 2 goals in 4 minutes.
The first goal for them was a penalty after Ben Futcher won the ball in the area but was adjudged to have unfairly fouled York’s Duffield. The penalty was slotted past reserve keeper Paul Pettinger. The 2nd goal 3 minutes later was from a cross that missed everyone which was returned for another cross from the other side and headed in. City pulled it back to 2-2 in the 80th minute when Yeo took a shot across goal that went past Fettis but also was looking like it was going past the post until Ben Futcher scored his first kicked goal of the season from little more than 2 yards. York quickly restored there advantage. 50 seconds after Futcher drew level, a shot from 12 yards out went past a out of form Pettinger.
It stayed that way until the 2nd minute into the added on time when a corner from was punched out by Fettis straight to Yeo who volleyed in from the edge of the area. Less than 20 seconds later, Bimson put a cross in that was fumbled by everyone for a while before Ben Sedgemore stuck out a foot which hit the post and deflected in off a York defender for the 2nd goal in a 33 second time frame. The final whistle went soon afterwards and City had progressed.

Wrexham 0 Lincoln City 2

The match was full of action with Simon Yeo, Dene Cropper, Scott Willis, Peter Gain and Mark Camm all coming exceeding close for the Imps. Andy Morrell had the best chance for Wrexham when he ran past the defence but could only put his shot 5 yards wide. The 2nd half started really slowly but Lincoln went 1-0 up after a pass from Peter Gain found its way though Wrexham’s defence and Dene Cropper battled with Pejic to get to the ball first and it was the City striker who shot first time to give the Imps a 1- 0 which soon became 2-0 when “that man” Adie Mike passed the ball to Bimson who kicked a long ball up field that Paul Smith ran onto and ran another 20 yards before coolly slotting past the Wrexham keeper to a very loud chorus of boos from the home fans. The Imps could have made it 3 in injury time but Mark Camm’s 30 yard drive was excellently saved by the Wrexham
keeper. The final whistle went and City’s fans were delirious as we’d gone from 1 win in 7 to 3 wins in a row.

Darlington 0 Lincoln City 0

A very wet cloudy day in North east England hosted the Imps. City failed to get a single shot on target all afternoon. The only decent opportunities for Darlington were when Paul Morgan slipped on the slippery surface and Barry Conlon ran through and hit the ball past Marriott but Morgan had recovered and cleared off the line.

Lincoln City 1 Bury 1

A Tuesday night game with a distinct lack of goalmouth action from open play. The first goal came when Yeo was brought down in the area by Bury’s Nelson and Ben Sedgemore hit a good shot straight past Glyn Garner. Dene Cropper had a great oppurtunity to make it two when the Bury keeper fell over, the ball came out to Cropper and he shot on target and it seemed to be
going in until somehow a Bury defender slide in and cleared it off the line. The Bury equaliser came from a penalty when Alan Marriott fouled Bury player manager Andy Preece who stepped up and put the ball in himself.

Lincoln City 1 Hull City 1

City’s biggest crowd of the season saw an exciting draw. The first action came inside 4 minutes when Ben Futcher volleyed home from 6 yards which looped over everyone to silence the Hull fans. Hull fans failed to chant anymore in the match. Yeo, Smith, Cropper, Futcher and Bimson all came close to putting the Imps two up. Then Hull had a free kick on the edge of the
are and took it quickly when it was passed through for an intended run through for Gary Alexander, however, even though Marriott had already picked the ball up, Paul Morgan allegedly pulled Alexander’s shirt which resulted in a red card.
Within 2 minutes, Alexander drew the visitors undeservedly level. In the second half, Dene Cropper ran 2 on 1 with a Hull defender with Simon Yeo. The defender fouled the Lincoln striker for what was considerably worse than Morgan’s offence for what was clearly a much better scoring opportunity than the previous sending of was. Much to City fans disgust, the Hull defender got away with only a yellow card when it was definitely worthy of a red. Hull then had the best chance of the closing minutes when they hit the bar 3 times in 5 seconds before it went out for a goal kick. Although with the amount of chances Lincoln had and how we dominated the game, we couldn’t take advantage of a poor Hull team who`s fans were as silent as what a deaf person would hear in the middle of a
completely empty field with no wind or anything.

Lincoln City 1 Shrewsbury 2 - LDV Vans 2nd Round

An extremely boring game where the only 3 shots on target went in from a mix of Shrewsbury’s first team and City`s reserves. The first goal was an Adam Buckley free kick from 20 yards flew into the net but only 2 minutes later Shrewsbury found themselves level when a well worked free kick was passed to Luke Rodgers who shot straight past Marriott. The game went into extra time but that only last 4 minutes until a Shrewsbury shot somehow found its way into the net and City (reserves) were out of their 2nd cup competition.

Carlisle United 2 Lincoln City 1 - FA Cup 1st Round

A trip to Brunton Park at the beginning of winter isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. The first major incident came after 30 minutes when a Peter Gain shot after a corner was handled by a Carlisle defender on the line, the defender was sent off but Sedgemore`s otherwise well taken penalty was saved by Carlisle keeper. In the 2nd half, Carlisle got a corner which was punched by Marriott but Des Byrne of Carlisle passed it back into the box where Richie Foran slotted the ball past Marriott to put the underdogs 1-0 up. City were immediately up the other end when they were denied numerous times by an excellent goalkeeping spell from Matt Glennon. 5 goal bound shots in the space of 9 seconds were all excellently saved. Carlisle quickly doubled their lead when a through ball got past City’s defence and a Carlisle striker slotted past Marriott for 2-0. Ben Futcher then pulled the Imps back with a simple tap in after Carlisle’s keeper parried a shot from Yeo.

Lincoln City 1 Rushden and Diamonds 2

Very heavy rain seemed to have the game called off and brought up the all the mud on the pitch which never improved during the season. The game started with the Imps playing much better football than their promotion rivals but it was Rushden who took the lead when a low free kick seemed to be stopped by Marriott on the ground but the snippiness of the ball must have
decieved Marriott who had to watch as the ball trickled through his whole body, out through his legs and over the line. Their second goal came in the early part of the second half when a cross from the right went over every city defender and was headed in by Rushden`s Paul Underwood. City then had a great chance to pull one back when a free kick found it’s way through to Dene Cropper who volleyed quite a far way over the bar. City then managed to pull a goal back when a 35 yard drive from Peter Gain flew into the net. City then had the best opportunity in the world to score when Simon Yeo played the ball across the goal, past the keeper where 3 players all missed the ball for a 2 yard tap in.

Oxford 1 Lincoln City 0

City’s fans came away feeling robbed of at least a point or even 3 points but instead came away with no points after an absolutely diabolic refereeing decisions from Paul Rejer who was determined to get Oxford all 3 points. Yeo had a great opportunity to open the scoring as soon as the 1st minute when he ran past the keeper but shot against the post but the ball came straight back to him and he took his time, then took a shot from 1 yard out but still managed to get it to go wide. Yeo then thought he`d put City 1-0 up in the 2nd half when he headed in a throw in but a player was judged to be offside even though there were 3 Oxford defenders ON the line. Paul Rejer then started booking City players for everything possible. He moved every single free kick of Oxford forward 10 yards. He even sent Keith Alexander to the stands when he disagreed to a decision and the cheese monkey through his rattle out of his pram. Then in the 2nd minute of added on time, Rejer awarded a penalty when a cross hit Willis’ arms even though he was only protecting his face, wouldn’t you protect your face if someone volleyed a cross towards you from 2 yards away? The penalty was converted and only 3 minutes of the 5 indicated were played, the whistle was blown just as Gain was about to shot from the edge of the box. By the end of the match, Rejer had booked 8 of the City players, Marriott himself was booked simply for trying to save the penalty. City also fell to their 4th defeat in a row and gone of a terrible run of no win in 6.

Lincoln City 2 Cambridge United 2

City started off like a bullet when Paul Smith ran through United’s defence within 30 seconds but sent his shot past the keeper and less than a yard past the post. Cambridge soon went up the other end and Luke Gutteridge extended United’s impressive record of scoring in every single league game so far during the season. City had to wait for the 33rd minute when Richard Butcher deflected a shot from new signing Chris Cornelly into the net for a rather unusual mild celebration from the City fans.
Old Imp Terry Fleming then became the first player to get sent off when he tripped Chris Cornelly for his second bookable offence. Cornelly then went up the other end and crossed which for some reason was punched out by the Cambridge who punched it straight to Simon Weaver who shot to score his 2nd goal of the season. Luke Gutteridge was then sent off for a very reckless challenge of Paul Smith which almost sparked a mass brawl.
Scott Willis became the next player to go, 4 minutes after coming on as a substitute, he went for the ball by doing a karate kick in mid air that hit ex Imp Wanless in the face and no one in the whole ground other than Willis himself was shocked to see him get a red card. Wanless then went up to the Lincoln goal, shot at Marriott who parried it straight back to him who shot back into the goal to draw Cambridge level. No wins in 7.

York City 1 Lincoln City 1

On loan signing Steve Watts opened the scoring in the 8th minute when a low 20 yard drive into the bottom right hand corner. Richard Butcher than had a great chance to make it 2 when he worked his way past 3 York defenders only to shoot over the line from 7 yards. York then somehow drew level when a lot of goalmouth action resulted in the ball going to the edge of the area where it was met by the left foot of a York midfielder who somehow managed to steer it through almost 20 bodies and past Marriott to draw the cash strapped club level. No wins in 8.

Macclesfield Town 0 Lincoln City 1

350 fans stood in the open terracing on an extremely rainy boxing day. Lincoln fans were optimistic due to the fact we’d won the last 3 games against Macclesfield without conceding a goal in any of them. Though Macclesfield had the best opportunity when a cross was met by Danny Whitaker who could only slide to the ball very wide of the ball. The wet conditions made it difficult for both sides and the best chance Lincoln could muster was when on loan Darren Dykes had a shot cleared off the line. The second half didn’t really get any better but thankfully, in the 83rd minute Peter Gain shot from 25 yards into the left hand side of the goal to give city their first win in exactly 2 months since the away game at Wrexham.

Lincoln City 1 Swansea City 0

Despite dominating the game, City made hard work of the league's bottom club who hadn’t won an away game since the previous January when they defeated the previous season’s flops, Halifax. The first opportunity came when a goalmouth scramble involving Simon Yeo and Steve Watts but eventually a free kick to Swansea was given. It increasingly looked like it would become only 1 win in 10 until Paul Smith smashed a shot against the post which rebounded to Swansea`s Kristian Roberts who could only watched and the ball bounced off his shin straight back into the goal. He was incredibly unlucky to give Lincoln their 2nd win in a row.

Lincoln City 1 Boston United 1

A very passionate local derby started as soon as the 8th minute when Paul Ellender of Boston missed an City cross which fell to Simon Weaver who chipped it over the keeper to sent the 6000 Imps fans into delirium. Yeo then had a great opportunity to make it 2-0 when he ran through the defence but the 2nd placed Uncle Fester look a like (after Stuart Bimson), Paul Bastock made a great save. The 2nd half began and 6 minutes after the restart, Boston were level after their Richard Logan headed in a Matt Hocking corner. Boston didn’t have another chance all game where as City could have scored up to 5 more if it was for some poor finishing or great saved from Fester number 2.

Lincoln City 1 Shrewsbury Town 1

City were quite confident of getting a result against a team that had recently lost 5-0 twice and lost 6-0 against Boston, all away. City dominated the game but couldn’t convert their chances until the 33rd minute when Ben Sedgemore’s corner hit the far post and bounced to Richard Butcher who smashed the ball back into the goal to put the Imps 1-0 up when it could have easily been 3 or 4. City’s domination continued and Shrewsbury were incredibly fortunate to keep it down to 1-0. Shrewsbury’s ONLY attack of the game resulted in their goal, a pass from Matt Redmile was struck by Jagielka who saw his shot somehow sneak past Marriott and into the goal. Although City were still only midtable, hopes were beginning to be raised of a promotion push.

Rochdale 0 Lincoln City 1

250 Lincoln fans braved a very cold Tuesday night just outside of Manchester to see a very impressive City performance. The game was pretty even with both teams having good chances including City`s Simon Yeo, Richard Butcher and Mark Bailey aswell as Rochdale’s Lee Hodges and Lee McEvilly. However, after dominating the run of the play, City went ahead after another chance seemed to have gone begging when Stuart Bimson’s corner was headed very high by Futcher but quickly started to dip and sneaked in under the bar to make it 1-0 to the Imps and get them their 2nd away win in a row and their 4th of the season.

Swansea City 2 Lincoln City 0

The 2nd game against the league’s bottom club in less than a month but a considerably more open game than the first. Ben Futcher got the ball into the net but it was disallowed because an off the ball incident resulted in the keeper going to the floor even though he wouldn’t have been able to save it anyway considering it was far away from him. Swansea went ahead just before half time when a cross resulted in a header that looped over Marriott. Cropper soon had a great opportunity to equalize just after the break when hard work from Bailey resulted in a pass but Cropper could only hit his shot straight at the keeper from less than 2 yards with the whole goal beckoning. Swansea then secured the win when slack defending from Lincoln resulted in a Swansea corner falling out to the edge of the area where it was blasted back into the top of the net. A very poor away performance from City and we didn’t deserve a point but it left us wondering how different it would have been if Futcher’s goal was allowed.

Carlisle 1 Lincoln City 4

The forth away game in a row resulted in 4 goals for the Imps away from home for the first time since the 4-2 win at Doncaster in the promotion season. The first goal came in the 6th minute when a Paul Smith cross was met by new signing Chris Ward’s head to score his first goal for the Imps. Then on the 30th minute, Scott Willis broke down the wing, if you have seen Figo’s goal against Manchester Utd in the champions league then it was very similar to that but happened before Figo’s so officially, this was the better. It was a shot from wide out of the left then curled a lot and nestled in the top right hand corner.
At half time, Carlisle manager Roddy Collins brought his team back out after 2 minutes but it didn’t change the mood of the game with City absolutely dominating the game. Mark Bailey was unlucky not to put the Imps 3-0 up when his right footed shot went just to the right hand side of the goal. However, Peter Gain was 25 yards out and was dancing in between 3 defenders immediately around him and then unleashed an unstoppable shot. 4 minutes later, Richard Butcher hit the ball randomly upfield but for some reason, Matt Glennon decided to try and kick it rather then pick it up but totally missed his kick and Paul Smith snook round the back and slotted the ball into the net in his best performance of the season by far.
City could have easily made it 5 or 6 but the players seemed happy enough with the 4 goals. 2 minutes into injury time, it looked as though City had secured a 4-0 win until Richie Foran’s left footed shot went into the bottom right hand corner. City
had suddenly gone from only no wins in 9 to only 1 defeat in 9.

Hull City 0 Lincoln City 1

A first trip to the new KC stadium for the Imps resulted in a fine display. The first real chance was for Chris Cornelly who intercepted a pass and ran through the middle of the pitch with no defence to take on but could only sent his shot into space. Hull had a good chance just before the half time whistle when a shot from Jamie Forester was parried by Marriott to Stuart Elliott who hit the post. In the second half, the game remained pretty even with Richard Butcher having the best chance when his right footed drive from just outside the area went just 2 yards wide.
In the 69th minute, Simon Yeo released Mark Bailey down the right who ran into the area then got ready to shoot before being shoved over by Hull’s Damien Delaney. Stuart Bimson surprisingly stepped up for the penalty and blasted it into the right hand side of the goal. Ben Futcher then had a goal disallowed for offside. City held on quite easily to become the first away team to win at Hull’s new ground in any sport at any competitive competition. City found themselves 8th, just outside the playoffs.

Lincoln City 1 Darlington 1

Thankfully this game was considerably more interesting than the reverse game at Feethams. City’s first chance was a Stuart Bimson free kick that was tapped onto the bar by the Darlington keeper. However it was Darlington who took the lead. The ball was thread through the City defence and a late decision to run out resulted in Barry Conlon chipping over Marriott to give the visitors a shock lead. However, pretty soon, Chris Ward tapped in after a big goalmouth scramble for his 2nd goal in a City shirt, however, a 2nd half injury would see him out for the season and was later released by the
Imps even though his good scoring record of 2 goals in 3 games. The Darlington keeper then kept his side in the game by making numerous saves of goal bound headers. One defeat in 11.

Scunthorpe United 0 Lincoln City 0

A game where City were in the Scunthorpe half for the vast majority of the match but without having a lot of luck. The best Lincoln chances including Ben Futcher hitting the bar, Allan Pearce heading just wide and have a volley from 7 yards excellently saved by the Scunthorpe keeper. Scunthorpe`s best chance was in the 2nd half when Martin Carruthers rounded Marriott but Ben Futcher won the ball before he had a chance to shoot. It didn’t have the same passion as either of the Boston games but was still a good match from a defence point of view.

Lincoln City 1 Leyton Orient 1

An under par City side did to Orient what Orient had done to City at the reverse fixture. City had good opportunities throughout the match but couldn’t convert the majority. Leyton Orient scored with a good volley from Matthew Brazier hit the underside of the bar and bounced off the back of Mark Bailey’s head. City then had to wait until in injury time when a Stuart Bimson free kick was met by Ben Futcher’s head to secure a 4th 1-1 home draw in a row. Next were the league leaders, Hartlepool.

Lincoln City 3 Hartlepool 0

A battle of the inform teams, City had only one defeat in the last 13 matches and Hartlepool unbeaten in 12 matches. The action was end to end stuff with Hartlepool showing why they were top of the league. The first City goal came when a free kick bounced over everyone and was overhead kicked by Allan Pearce into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Hartlepool had
numerous chances to get back into the match including 1 on 1s which were all saved well by Marriott.
City had to wait until the 83rd minute to make it 2 when Peter Gain picked the ball up just inside the Hartlepool half and ran around 5 of their players and into their box and shot low past Hartlepool’s keeper. It was quickly 3 as another recent signing, Matthew Bloomer did a suicide dive towards the ball to score his first goal for the Imps which also saw all but about 10 of the 800 traveling fans leave. No one was expecting this result in the slightest which saw City extend their impressive form and Hartlepool’s incredibly poor run away from home to start, they didn’t win away again and although having a 16 point lead at one point, they lost the title to Rushden on the last day.

Southend United 0 Lincoln City 1

A trip down to Southend resulted in quite a dull match where the only decent chance to score was when City actually scored. Stuart Bimson took a corner that was met by Ben Futcher and sailed past the keeper. Southend didn’t manage a shot on target and City continued the excellent defence form that had given them the best defence in division 3.

Lincoln City 1 Wrexham 1

City came against an inform team but thought they had took the lead when Simon Weaver’s shot in the 30th minute was ruled out for offside. In the second half, the same player was involved in City’s opening goal. Scott Willis took a shot that deflected off Weaver and into the goal. No one was sure who to award the goal to as Weaver did put it in the net even though Willis’s shot was going in anyway. Then the leading goal scorer in the league scored an almost impossible shot where he chipped over Marriott from 4 yards when his foot was under Paul Morgan’s leg. City’s 5th 1-1 home draw out of the last 6 matches.

Exeter City 2 Lincoln City 0

City went to the team at the bottom of the league extremely confident after going from 14th to 6th due to the impressive run of 1 loss in 17 that was by far the best run in the division this season. However, it was to be the basement boys night as they ran out easy 2-0 winners. The first goal came from a corner when the cross was met with a shot that hit Marriott but fell straight back to the player who hit it sweetly into the net. The 2nd was when a long ball put James Coppinger through who slotted neatly past Marriott. Lincoln’s best chance was from a Ben Futcher free kick that hit the post.

Bury 2 Lincoln City 0

A disastrous 4 days saw the Imps slip from 6th to 10th. Allan Pearce produced the first effort when he tried lobbing the keeper who was off his line after a long ball and Garner only just managed to get back before saving the shot. Then Bury went ahead when a low shot went between Marriott’s arm and ribs and snook over the line to give Bury a 1-0 lead. The second came after a Bury player elbowed Butcher in the head but the ref didn’t notice and he ran with the ball and did a 1-2 with another player before passing it back for the player to tap it in. City for the 2nd time in a week, were 2-0 down before half time. Simon Yeo then looked to have broken his 6 month barren spell when a left foot shot rebounded off the keeper to go straight back to Yeo who hit it first time, a foot wide of the post. Bimson, Yeo and Futcher all could have scored within 3 seconds after a corner but Garner was in good form and won his side the 3 points.

Lincoln City 1 Kidderminster Harriers 0

With no ref to save them this time, Kidderminster became the first in 3 home games in a row. The opening shot of the game as also the opening goal when a Chris Cornelly shot was parried by Kidderminster’s Fraser Digby and it fell straight to on loan signing Shayne Bradley who scored his first goal for the Imps in what would turn out to be his last game for the Imps. The only other decent chance during the game was when a 20 yard shot from Paul Mayo hit the underside of the bar, bounced on the line and out when it looked like he’d scored his first goal for the Imps.

Lincoln City 2 Bristol Rovers 1

Shayne Bradley injured himself during the warm up and an extremely angry Keith Alexander sent him straight back to Chesterfield and put another on loan striker, Hull’s Daniel Webb into the starting line up. Webb himself scored the first goal after Peter Gain rain round the Bristol defence then passed it to Webb to slightly chipped up over the onrushing keeper. Bristol quickly equalized however when the Latvian international Astefjves shot past Marriott. City quickly regained advantage though when a Peter Gain free kick was headed home by Ben Futcher. There were a lot of chances for the teams and the game could have easily finished 5-5. Bristol had the final chance when Andy Rammell`s shot seemed destined to go in until Mark Bailey cleared it off the line with a header.

Lincoln City 0 Oxford City 1

City conceded their first double loss this season and this time, the ref wasn’t to blame as City’s finishing was the poorest all season long. Oxford took the lead in the 3rd minute when Andy Scott shot into the top left hand corner for what was a good goal. City had by far the better chances whilst having 2 goals disallowed for offside. Although City had a totally 17 shots, only 3 were on target and those were easily dealt with. This was the first time City had failed to score at home since the Carlisle home game and the first home defeat since November, almost 6 months before.

Rushden and Diamonds 1 Lincoln City 0

Lincoln visited the champions elect with hopes of getting a firmer grip on a playoff place. The game also saw the return of Dene Cropper which had seen the striker injured from just after the Hull game. Rushden dominated the game with Onandi Lowe’s 10th minute free kick going just over the bar. The same player scored the goal when a cross from the left was met by an unmarked Lowe who headed low to Marriott’s left. Rushden continued to have the best chances with Lincoln only have a small amount of chances on target. A second defeat in a week would mean a hard end to the season to get the playoff places with games against fellow playoff hopefuls, York, Cambridge, Bournemouth and Torquay.

Lincoln City 1 York City 0

A very even game was settled with a goal just before half time when Ben Futcher scored yet another header to increase his season tally to 10, the first player to do so. Mark Bailey had done extremely well to keep the ball from going out of play. Allan Pearce had a great chance in the 2nd half to make it 2-0 when he ran 1-1 with the keeper but blasted his shot over. Despite late York pressure, City held on to get to 7th place in the table.

Cambridge United 0 Lincoln City 0

This game was played a day after all other matches over the bank holiday weekend so City knew that a win would take them up to 5th in the table with 2 games to go. It was quite an uninteresting match where the first decent chance came in the 80th minute when Stuart Bimson just hit the ball randomly and it went towards the keeper but the Cambridge keeper who had been play dodgily since, caught the ball but then fell backwards and the ball crossed the line but neither the linesman or the referee were looking before the keeper managed to shuffle the keeper back across the line. Yeo then had a great opportunity to secure a win when he ran 1on 1 with the keeper 2 minutes into added on time but saw his shot go straight to the keeper’s legs and the rebound header went over. A good away draw but a bit disappoint considering it would have made the next game not as important.

Bournemouth 0 Lincoln City 1

City traveled to Bournemouth hoping to become only the 2nd team to win there all season long in the league. The game was pretty even though City were having the best of the play and that came into play when City got a free kick in the 1st half. Gain put the ball in and it was headed out to Richard Butcher who took it under control and slotted it coolly from 20 yards into the bottom right hand corner. Bournemouth had a great opportunity in the 2nd half to equalize after Wade Elliott ran through City’s defence but saw his goal bound effort slide past Marriott but hit the inside of the post and straight back to Marriott. Peter Gain then had a great chance to make it 2-0 when his 30 yard shot went just wide. City held on to become the 2nd team that season to win at Bournemouth in the league and the 1st to stop them from scoring. This result left City needing just a point to guarantee a spot in the playoffs.

Lincoln City 1 Torquay United 1

A day of drama, tears and the first goal for a certain striker for over 7 months. The game started out with City desperate to get an early goal to settle the nerves and they almost managed it when Futcher headed just wide of the post but it was the visitors who took the lead when a long ball bounced past Marriott and Morgan before a Torquay player simply tapped it in. That silenced
the full Sincil Bank which had seen the ground completely filled. City had numerous opportunities including when Peter Gain missed the ball and Simon Yeo blasting over from 3 yards. It looked as if it wasn’t to be City’s day.........until Richard Butcher volleyed a long ball forward which was met with the left foot of Simon Yeo and flew into the net, his first goal league goal since September which sent Sincil Bank into delirium. A massive pitch invasion at the end indicated that City had successfully made the playoffs for the first time ever against local rivals, Scunthorpe.

Lincoln City 5 Scunthorpe United 3 - Playoff Semi Final First Leg

The first game with a 5-3 score line for the first time in 5 years and the first in over 50 years won by City. Neither side had any clear cut chances at first but then Dene Cropper was humbled over near the corner flag. Bimson took the free kick and aimed it towards the far post where a completely unmarked Simon Weaver headed into the net to sent the full Sincil Bank into cheers, well all except the Scunthorpe fans. Scunthorpe’s marking was incredibly poor with Weaver not having a defender within 5 yards of it and not a defender on the line or anything.
City fans were again cheering when 3 minutes later, after another free kick had been cleared out, Richard Butcher just lobbed it back into the crowded box and Paul Mayo ran through the Scunthorpe defenders and volleyed the shot over the outstretched arms of the keeper for probably the best goal by a Lincoln defender, ever. Lincoln fans were in full cheer as the near 2000 traveling supporters lay stunned. City were totally dominating the game but on the 26th minute, Scunthorpe drew level when a Andy Dawson corner was flicked by Alex Calvo Garcia and the ball crossed the line but it was highly debated whether it was the full ball before Mark Bailey had cleared it.
Even though City’s lead had been halved, they still dominated which showed against when Peter Gain past the ball in the air to Paul Mayo who headed it to Dene Cropper who ran through the statues otherwise known as the Scunthorpe defence, he then passed it past the keeper to Paul Smith who simply tapped it in for a very well worked goal. A corner then got Scunthorpe back into the game on the 69th minute when it hit a bit of mud on the pitch and stopped directly in front of Calvo Garcia who just hit it as fast as he possibly could into the right hand side of the goal. Scunthorpe then equalized less than a minute later when a goal mouth scramble resulted in Nathan Stanton taking a shot that went past Marriott and gave Scunthorpe an equalizer which to be quite honest, wasn’t deserved in the slightest.
It remained the way until 5 minutes from time when Stuart Bimson
just booted the ball as far forward as possible and Simon Yeo was the first to reach it as he volleyed it from the edge of the area to make it 4-3 and Yeo was at it again in added on time when Richard Butcher chipped the ball to him and a very good volley from 8 yards flew past the Scunthorpe keeper for the 5th City goal and the 8th goal of the game. Undoubtedly the game of the season.

Scunthorpe United 0 Lincoln City 1 - Playoff Semi Final 2nd Leg - City win 6-3
on aggregate

A packed Glanford Park saw City reach the national stadium for the first time in it’s history. The best chances of the opening stages went to Scunthorpe, the best was when an attempted clearance went straight to Paul Hayes who volleyed well but only to see it excellently saved my Marriott. Despite all the pressure, City thought they had gone 1-0 up on the night when a cross from Paul Smith was headed backwards by Chris Cornelly to Richard Butcher who struck sweetly into the net but by then the offside flag had gone on Chris Cornelly. A Mark Bailey free kick then went narrowly wide of the post. Stuart Bimson almost scored an own goal with a misplaced header.
A scramble just outside the area then resulted in Peter Gain toe poking it forward where Simon Yeo sprinted half the pitch to score his first ever goal away from Sincil Bank for City and making it 6-3 on aggregate to the Imps with only 1 minute of normal time to go. Yeo was at it again when he almost scored a second when a Gain cross was hit by Yeo who missed the open goal and went wide of the post but luckily City had secured a final place by then.

AFC Bournemouth 5 Lincoln City 2 - Playoff Final

The end of season showpiece, the playoff final, for the winners, pure nirvana, for the losers, nothing. What a way to end a season where City had been predicted to finish bottom. The team continued to show determination and team spirit that was 2nd to none in this division and even when Mark Bailey scored a consolation to make it 4-2 (at that point) with 15 minutes to go, he celebrated like he’d scored the winning goal, this was what we had come to expect from the team this season, even when losing, the team never gave up and tried desperately to get back in the game.
All the action started as soon as the 6th minute when Paul Smith shot just wide of the goal but it was Bournemouth who struck first when a cross from Karl Fletcher was met by Steve Fletcher who stuck and unstoppable volley past Marriott. City were quickly level though when a Mark Bailey free kick was met by the head of Ben Futcher who was determined to end the season as the club’s top scorer after this late run from Yeo had seen them tied on 10 goals each for the season going into the game. City surged forward and a 2nd goal seemed inevitable from City as they quickly hit the post and had 4 close efforts within the space of 3 minutes after the goal.
However, Bournemouth went into the break with the advance when a Steven Purches shot curled and was headed low by Steve Fletcher wide of Marriott to make it 2-1. Marriott had no chance as he couldn’t have predicted where the ball was going to go. Lincoln came out and showed the usual determination but Bournemouth made it 3-1 when Steven Purches half volleyed past Marriott. Dene Cropper then had a great opportunity to close the gap to 3-2 when the keeper fell over and sliced a clearance straight to Cropper who could only shot over the open goal. Straight after came the 4th Bournemouth goal Steve Fletcher ran with the ball and struck low from the edge of the area past Marriott. City searched for a lifeline with Dene Cropper again missing an open goal.
Mark Bailey then scored his first goal for the Imps in the 75th minute when he headed in a Chris Cornelly cross. Even though City were still 2 goals down, this gave real hope to City. Then Paul Morgan was unfairly adjudged to have fouled Steve Fletcher. The free kick was swung into the box where Karl Fletcher headed past Marriott less than 2 minutes after Bailey’s goal had given City’s fans hopes. The City fans who know knew that they would be returning to grounds like Glanford Park and Plainmoor decided to show their loyalty by continuing to outsing the Bournemouth fans like they had done all match long.
The players also knew it was over but still played with the determination that had got them into the final in the first place. Mayo then had a header hitting the bar and Simon Yeo hit the post before the final whistle blew and City’s Cinderella season had come to a heart breaking end but the 15,000 travelling Imps all stayed behind and applauded the both teams for their effort and continued to sing. As a fan who had seen all 52 previous games this season, I personally found this to be the most gutting experience of my entire life and a tremendous anti climax to the season. I was however extremely proud of the team in every single way.
I had been openly critical of the team at times this season such as the 8 game winless run, the 2-0 losses at Bristol Rovers, Boston, Swansea, Bury and Exeter but even though I had just seen us lose 5-2, I will admit that no matter how well City played, they were simply outplayed by the better team, Bournemouth deserved to win this match, no question about it. But here’s a good thought, Rushden lost the playoff final in 2001/2 and look what happened to them in 2002/3. So there’s only one thing left to me say.


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