A blistering hot summer afternoon, five months since a ball was last kicked, a new look stadium, new look club, new executive board, new management team, many new players, unfortunately no fans but, football was back and 'The Whites' were hosting 'step 6' Lincolnshire side, Brigg Town FC.
As ever with pre-season 'The Whites' were missing a few, most notably captain, Charlie Ward, as well as Kyle Watkins and Jake Park. However, despite missing important players, Wilkinson still fielded a strong side including vice-captain, Matt Cotton, Kallum Smith, Callum Foster, Callum Chapman and more new signings, plus some trialists.
The game got off to a fast and frantic start with United working the first chance of the game within the opening four minutes. Callum Chapman picked the ball up centrally and threaded a nice through ball to Mcmenemy, the striker was marshalled well by the Brigg centre-back whilst bearing down on goal, Mcmenemy couldn't get his effort on target as the ball flew past the near post, high and wide. The next 12 minutes or so were battled in and around the centre of the pitch; Brigg threatened from deep free kicks but Foster marshalled United's back line well and although one tame header went goalwards, that was the last time the North Lincolnshire sided threatened 'The Whites' goal in the first half.
Prior to the drinks break, Nick Bates and Brigg's, Wayne Graves, had a nasty clash of heads which saw Graves leave the field bloodied and with a serious gash on his head, all at Lincoln United wish him a speedy recovery. As the first half drew on, United were getting more joy with the ball through Chapman, Cotton, Smith and Mcmenemy. The next notable chances came from a couple of Cotton set-pieces when Biggs and Costa both could perhaps have done better with headed chances; Chapman was causing issues with his movement, energy and quality on the ball; a good combination between him and his left-back partner, Kallum Smith, saw the pair work an opening with 'The Whites' stalwart turning down the opportunity to shoot from a good angle, before a blocked shot was turned behind for a corner. It wasn't long after that, Cotton did open the scoring; Robbie Smith, Chapman and Costa all involved in the build-up, the latter's cross caused problems in the opponent's box before Cotton's blocked shot fell nicely back to the vice-captain, who then rounded the keeper to score the first goal of 'The Whites' new-era.
#TheWhites 1 - 0 Brigg Town FC
After the goal, 'The Whites' still threatened, regularly and looked like they were going to score from set-pieces due to the quality of Cotton's delivery, Foster and Robbie Smith unable to convert chances that fell their way. United's back four and keeper, along with Millard and Bates marshalled and thwarted any chance of Brigg trying to equalise; Mcmenemy occupied Brigg's back line superbly; good forward play and defensive clearances regularly got a Lincoln United attacker in behind but, due to the starting position of Brigg Town's goalkeeper, United couldn't benefit.
Lincoln United 1 - 0 Brigg Town (HT)
The start of the second half saw both teams play most of the opening 15 minutes in the middle third of the pitch with no real chances created. Brigg seemed more accomplished defensively and Pembleton was starting to have more of an effect on the game in an offensive sense for the travelling side.
Both sides rung the changes with Wilkinson introducing Ross Woolley, Joe Smith Charlie Hart, Jackson Buckthorp, Jack Wilkinson, Elliott Shearwood, Corey Newman and Clayton Wilkinson throughout the second period. It would be goalkeeper Woolley who would be the busier of the two keepers in the second period. Prior to any saves Woolley had to make however, United were pursuing the second goal, tentatively - Robbie Smith, Callum Chapman, Matt Cotton and Jack Mcmenemy all having half chances in and around the Brigg box, a second goal would have ultimately killed the game off and nullified any chance of Brigg getting back into the game.
It was on 75 minutes that Woolley made his first save, a dinked cross from Brigg's #14 found an on-running midfielder at the edge of the box and his goalbound header was plucked out of the air by the ex-Lincoln City YT stopper. As United made more and more changes, Woolley became more active, the second save coming from a stinging shot, 20 yards out, Woolley tipping the ball over the bar. The final 10 minutes saw United's stopper make three important saves, the first of which thwarted Brigg's #20 who tried to lift the ball over 'The Whites' keeper, a 'Peter Schmeichel'esc' star save kept the ball out the net. The second and third came in the final minutes, the first a low down volley well held after the second phase of a poorly cleared corner and, the final save coming in the last minute of the game, comfortably clawing Pembleton's free-kick from the top-corner.
Lincoln United 1 - 0 Brigg Town (FT)
The first of eight pre-season friendlies starts with a win, a clean sheet and a very good first half performance. 'TheWhites' travel to Brigg's North Lincolnshire counterparts on Tuesday night, Bottesford Town FC for the men's first team, 2nd pre-season friendly. Ensure you follow our Twitter account for updates, 19:30 KO.