– Scott Tysoe contributed to this report.
Lincoln City fell to a disappointing defeat by two goals to one at home to Alfreton Town on Tuesday, September 4th.
Both teams came into the match disappointed with their weekend results. Lincoln threw away a lead in their 1-1 draw with Ebbsfleet, and Alfreton were smashed 5-1 in their visit to Dartford.
The opening few minutes of this game were, understandably, a cagey affair, with neither team really settling or imposing themselves upon the game.
The first real threat on goal came in the tenth minute when an Alfreton man got to the loose ball, after a long throw was cleared to the edge of the area, but his shot was fired straight into the arms of Imps keeper, Paul Farman. Moments later, the visitors had another effort on goal from distance but this one went well over the bar.
Lincoln’s first attack came in the 11th minute, when the ball was played into the feet of Jamie Taylor and he turned on the half-way line and headed towards goal. He beat three men and slid the ball to Peter Bore, who turned inside before releasing a shot that sailed over the bar. It was a poor finish to a promising move.
The deadlock was broken on 25 minutes – albeit in a lucky manner. Lincoln’s Colin Larkin drew a foul from Alfreton’s Theo Streete, and a free-kick was awarded about 30 yards from goal, wide on the right hand side.
Nicky Nicolau struck it, aiming his cross towards Boyce, but his delivery evaded everyone and there was nothing Jon Stewart could do in goal, other than watch, as it sailed past. The crowd celebrated Nicolau’s second goal in as many matches as the Imps took a 1-0 lead.
Alan Power was withdrawn from the fray through injury on the half-hour mark, with Gary Mills taking his place as Power was stretchered to the changing rooms.
Alfreton’s main threat was coming from crosses and long throws but Lincoln, and in particular Andrew Boyce, defended stoutly and repelled all that Alfreton threw at them.
The last major action of the first half came in the 37th minute, as the visitors’ right-back Josh Law picked up the ball in Lincoln’s half and jinked past three men. There was a suspicion of the ball going over the touchline but the linesman’s flag stayed down and Law played the ball to Nathan Arnold.
Arnold took a touch before firing an effort at goal. His curling strike seemed destined for the top corner but a wonderful one-handed save from Paul Farman kept the strike at bay and Lincoln headed into the break a goal to the good.
The first action of the second half saw Alfreton’s Theo Streete booked for a challenge on Jamie Taylor. From the free-kick, Nutter’s delivery was helped on by Taylor but it didn’t quite drop to a red and white shirt and the ball was eventually cleared by Alfreton.
Shortly after, Lincoln lost their second player through injury as Andrew Boyce was helped off and he was replaced by Jake Sheridan.
Just before the hour mark, Lincoln fashioned an excellent chance to take the lead. Great pressure from Larkin saw the ball break to Taylor and Lincoln were 3-on-1 in attack. Taylor opted to shoot, dragging his shot wide, despite having options to the left and right of him. Five minutes later, Lincoln paid for their profligacy as Alfreton got an equaliser.
Jake Sheridan was seemingly fouled deep in the Alfreton half but the referee waved play on, much to the chagrin of the crowd. A long ball was played over the top and Arnold brought it down brilliantly. His shot was blocked but Anthony Wilson got the loose ball under control and slammed it home on the turn, giving Farman no chance.
Things began to look worse for Lincoln shortly after the goal. First, Farman did well to claw out a mis-hit cross from underneath his own bar. However, there was nothing he could do a minute later as Arnold was allowed a free header at goal inside the area that, luckily for the Imps, hit the upright.
In the 71st minute, Alfreton defender, Darran Kempson headed just wide from a corner. The Imps were looking extremely shaky.
Lincoln finally managed to get hold of the ball and create a chance of their own in the 75th minute. A poor clearance fell to Larkin who played in Jamie Taylor. His shot was well saved and Larkin pounced on the loose ball, but he couldn’t quite turn it goal wards. Alfreton responded to this by bringing on this season’s top goal scorer, Paul Clayton for the goal scorer in this game, Anthony Wilson.
It wasn’t long before the change made a difference, although it wasn’t from Clayton directly. His presence caused chaos at the back as Lincoln struggled to cope with the loss of Boyce. Poor defending from a looped ball into the box meant that Imps keeper, Farman had to come and challenge Kempson but the Alfreton man got to the ball first and headed into an empty net, making it 2-1 to Alfreton after 79 minutes.
Lincoln responded to the goal by bringing on Vadaine Oliver for Paul Robson in order to try and force and equaliser.
Oliver almost had an instant impact as, in the 83rd minute, he saw a header blocked from a corner and then the follow-up was saved by Alfreton keeper, Stewart, although that may have been more luck than judgement as he didn’t appear to know much about it.
Six minutes of injury time were added at the end of the game, though it wasn’t enough for Lincoln City, who failed to level the scores. Final score: Lincoln City 1 – 2 Alfreton Town.
The Imps will travel to the New Bucks Head Stadium to face AFC Telford on Saturday and they must be looking to get some points on the board. They remain 17th in the table after today’s defeat but need to start climbing it soon if they are to meet their ambitions of a mid-table finish.
Paul Farman – 7
Made one great save in the first half and couldn’t do anything about the first goal. Could have stayed on his line for the second but didn’t really have much choice.
Paul Robson – 6
Average in defence, poor as an attacking option.
Andrew Boyce – 7
Very brave. Good in the air and his presence was missed throughout the game. His injury needs to be minimal or the Imps will struggle.
Graham Hutchinson – 6
Solid enough, but could be better.
John Nutter – 6
Average in defence, poor as an attacking option.
Dan Gray – 6
Anonymous in midfield, although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Looked out of place during an aerial bombardment when he moved to centre-back.
Alan Power – N/A
Went off through injury, but looked better than his performance on Saturday.
Peter Bore – 6
Showed ambition but lacking a final threat at the end of his attacking work.
Nicky Nicolau – 6
Got another goal but didn’t really do much else.
Colin Larkin – 6
Worked hard but could and perhaps should have scored. Same old story it seems.
Jamie Taylor – 7
The Linc Sport Man of the Match. Held the ball up well and was always a threat due to his running. Needs the ball in to feet to be properly effective but it isn’t his fault he doesn’t get it.