Shaw Lane Aquaforce defeat Lincoln United in playoff thriller

Shaw Lane Aquaforce beat Lincoln United 3-2 in the second of the Evo-Stik First Division South playoff semi-finals last night.

After being 3-0 down with only five minutes remaining, the Whites almost staged an unlikely come back but the home side held on to clinch their place in Saturday’s playoff final against Coalville.

United manager, Dave Frecklington, brought Sean Wright back in to the team after a short suspension, which pushed Jake Gibson in to the left back position and Kallum Smith dropped to the bench. While Andrew Toyne came in to the midfield for the unavailable Danny Brooks.

The snow made playing conditions very difficult. (Photo: James Williams)

The snow made playing conditions very difficult. (Photo: James Williams)

Shaw Lane had the first opportunity of the game just three minutes in when defender Rhys Meynell hit the post with a looping effort that had beaten Mario Ziccardi in the Lincoln goal.

After 15 minutes the snow began to fall at The Shaw Lane Stadium making the conditions increasingly harder for both teams.

Five minutes later, the Whites had their first sniff of an opportunity but Mitch Griffiths couldn’t control the ball after Andrew Toyne’s cheeky chip over the defence.

The next chance of the game fell for the home side. Wright was booked for a foul 25 yards from goal, but James Walshaw hit the free-kick straight at Ziccardi.

A minute before half time Aqua Force won a corner. A good save from Ziccardi forced back to back corners and this time Meynell’s header flashed across the face of goal and went wide.

Thankfully the snow stopped for the start of the second half, however the damage had been done and the wet pitch made it difficult to play the ball along the floor.

Shaw Lane started the second period brightly with a fantastic block from Whites’ skipper Michael Jacklin and a great save from Ziccardi keeping the game level.

However, there was nothing Ziccardi could do to prevent Shaw Lane taking the lead after 54 minutes. A long ball from deep pierced the United defence and Walshaw broke clear to slot the ball into the back of the net and put the home team in to the lead.

Another brilliant save from Ziccardi after 66 minutes led to a corner for Shaw Lane. The ball was swung in to the near post and Walshaw headed in for his second of the game.

With 20 minutes remaining, Dave Frecklington made changes to try and get his side back into the match, bringing on Jack McGovern and Kallum Smith for Gary King and Jake Gibson.

After 75 minutes, Matt Cotton should have scored from close range but saw his first effort blocked by the goalkeeper and his follow flew way wide.

The game looked over after Shaw Lane went 3-0 up with just eight minutes left to play when substitute Adam Priestly found space in the box to shoot past Ziccardi.

However, the Whites fans did not give up and continued to cheer on their team and with three minutes to go McGovern gave them hope when he scored a header to make it 3-1.

Two minutes later the comeback was well and truly on as Rob Norris lobbed the keeper to put the Whites just a goal behind at 3-2.

But that proved to be the final action of an exciting encounter and the final action of what’s been an exciting season for Lincoln United.