– Dan Brown contributed to this report.
Lincoln City suffered late heart-break in the first round of the FA Cup as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to League One side, Walsall.
Jamie Taylor had given the home side the half time lead at The 12th Imp Sincil Bank Stadium, only for George Bowerman to equalise with five minutes left.
The home side came out the stronger, unnerved by the 53 places separating them from their opponents, but were unable to turn their possession into clear chances.
Walsall found their feet after a scrappy opening ten minutes, and almost broke the deadlock when Nicky Featherstone dummied Ashley Hemmings’ corner, but Dean Holden could only fire harmlessly over the crossbar.
The Imps responded, and came close to scoring on three occasions in quick succession. First, Gary Mills hit a speculative 30-yard effort which dipped narrowly over after 19 minutes, before Power caught his 18-yard volley beautifully, only to see it smash against the Walsall crossbar. From Mills’ rebound, the Walsall keeper, David Grof was forced to save low to his left.
Referee, Scott Duncan didn’t make any friends with the home supporters on 35 minutes when he waved play on, despite Jamie Taylor being bundled over by Andy Butler as he tried to break free.
Taylor, however, would have the last laugh of the half, when he gave the Imps the lead in spectacular style in the one minute of first half stoppage time. There didn’t appear to be much danger when he collected the ball just inside the Walsall box, but the Conference Player of the Month for October executed a delightful chip, leaving Grof rooted to his spot.
The goal clearly galvanised the home side, and they came out much the stronger team after the break. After 48 minutes, Alan Power’s free kick deflected off the wall for a corner, from which Peter Gilbert was inches away from making contact.
The Imps continued to search for the second goal that would kill the tie, and the tireless Jamie Taylor saw his powerful strike kept out by Grof.
With 23 minutes left to play, Power whipped in a corner that looked certain to result in a goal, but after a scramble in the six-yard box, Walsall somehow cleared their lines.
The home support could sense an upset, and the atmosphere inside the stadium was electric. However, as they game wore on, there was a feeling that Lincoln’s inability to put the game beyond doubt may come back to haunt them.
Walsall began to apply the pressure and, manager, David Holdsworth brought on Nicky Nicalau and Colin Larkin in an attempt to regain control. However, the visitors continued to press, and a succession of corners culminated in James Chambers heading harmlessly over.
With 7 minutes left, goal-scorer, Jamie Taylor received a standing ovation as he was replaced by Vadaine Oliver. Three minutes later, those cheers were replaced by groans, when George Bowerman levelled proceedings. Lincoln failed to deal with a Richard Taundry long-throw and Bowerman’s header rolled agonisingly past Paul Farman.
Jake Sheridan had a chance deep into injury time, but his 12-yard strike rolled harmlessly past the post and the game finished 1-1. Lincoln will travel to the Banks’ Stadium on Tuesday, November 13tth for the replay.
Paul Farman – 6
Didn’t have much to do and could do little about the goal.
Dan Gray – 7
A composed display at right-back, with his enormous throw-ins causing all sorts of confusion.
Andrew Boyce – 7
Kept the Walsall front line quiet for most of the game. Could perhaps of done more to prevent the goal.
Tom Miller – 7
A good performance alongside Boyce. Again, question marks over Lincoln’s defending for the goal.
Peter Gilbert – 7
Got through plenty of work at left-back and was rarely beaten down the wing.
Gary Mills – 8
Mills was excellent in the middle of the park and provided plenty of creativity.
Mamadou Fofana – 8
A very solid performance, using his strength while showing some good footwork.
Adam Smith – 6
In and out of the game. Worked hard to produce chances but lacked a bit of creativity.
Jake Sheridan – 7
A constant threat and always a willing runner.
Alan Power – 6
Had one or two good moments but was largely anonymous.
Jamie Taylor – 9
The Linc Sport Man of the Match. Played the lone-striker role wonderfully. Taylor never stopped running and scored a delightful goal worthy of winning the game. Received a well-deserved standing ovation.