Cleethorpes Town 1 Lincoln United 3
DERBY DEFEAT FOR SHATTERED OWLS
Another day, another match! The Owls took to the field less than 24 hours after earning a 1-1 draw at Carlton Town. Due to the wet weather and some unusual fixture planning, this was the second week in a row that Clee were asked to play on successive nights.
Once again there had to be many team changes. There were eight in total and the side lined up in a 4-4-2 formation:
Goalkeeper – Miles Fenty
Defence – Tim Lowe, Kieran Wressell, Matt Bloomer (c), Josh Lacey
Midfield – Liam David, Peter Winn, Loz McKay, Jon Oglesby
Attack – Brody Robertson, Danny North
Poor conditions at Bradley with persistent rain and a swirling breeze as the match started in scrappy fashion.
A long ball through from Davis found North, only for the front man to be flagged offside. Lincoln, who needed to win to keep their remote play-off hopes alive, forced a couple of corners but they were mopped up by Bloomer and Wressell. After 20 minutes, Lacey was on hand to break up a visiting attack.
Clee broke in a promising manner through Winn but his cross was deflected away. Then, Robertson and Oglesby created confusion in the away defence, which caused Michael Emery to fumble. The keeper regained his composure to gratefully dive on the loose ball.
It had all been fairly low-key and even thus far but it was the Whites who opened the scoring in the 37th minute. Fenty, who was playing for the first team for the second occasion of the season, made a spectacular save. However, in the same phase of play, Scott Matthews hit a fierce low drive beyond the unlucky stopper.
No more action in the first period, with the Owls’ weary players pleased to head for the dressing rooms for a 15-minute rest!
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Lincoln United 1 (Matthews 37)
After the break, it became increasingly clear that Lincoln’s much more relaxed recent schedule was likely to prove decisive. No question of the Owls’ commitment but both body and mind had little left to give. This was, after all, Clee’s sixth outing in ten days!
Alex Flett and Curtis Bateson came on in the 55th minute for Winn and Oglesby respectively. However, Paul Grimes doubled the visitors’ lead on the hour following a mistake by Fenty.
The dangerous striker was on hand to guide the ball into the net. The home keeper made amends somewhat with a really good one-footed save moments afterwards, as Lincoln nearly made the points safe.
Following a final Clee sub of Jack Richardson for McKay, Lincoln’s Kevin Hemagou dragged wide in the 76th minute when clean through and then Bateson gave the Owls hope.
The midfielder was played in on the left and showed excellent composure to easily beat Emery. Unfortunately, it proved to be a false dawn, as Grimes scored again in the 81st minute to give the Whites a cushion.
There was still time for Robertson to be denied by an outstanding save and Lincoln’s Steve Ridley to be dismissed after a poor challenge in centre field.
A torrential downpour was in progress when the referee brought proceedings to a close. Results elsewhere meant Lincoln, despite their merited win, left disappointed as their hopes of promotion ended. The Owls, on the other hand, would just be pleased of a solitary day off before welcoming champions Basford United on Thursday.
FT Cleethorpes Town 1 (Bateson 78) Lincoln United 3 (Matthews 37, Grimes 60, 81) Attendance: 113
Not much to add, as the match had a distinct end-of-season feel. I will keep my thoughts about the fixture scheduling to myself, otherwise we may get in trouble! At least we can look forward to two derby games against Lincoln next year.
Two to go! Tomorrow (Thursday – 7.45pm), it is Basford United for our final outing at Bradley. Then, on Saturday (3pm), it is the season finale away at Stamford (postcode: PE9 1US). A big match for the Daniels, who probably require at least a draw to secure sixth place.
Whatever happens, let’s give the lads a big send-off for the Summer at both games!
UP THE OWLS!