The University of Lincoln regained the Cathedral Cup in emphatic fashion, hammering local rivals Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) 5-1 under the floodlights at a misty Sincil Bank.
After a first half hour with few chances, Oliver Lawrence nodded in Lewis Weaver’s corner at the back post to put Lincoln ahead, but that lead lasted just four minutes as BGU equalised through Luke Hornsey.
Midway through the second half, Weaver etched his name onto the scoresheet, curling home a low free kick, before he was fouled in the box and Baxter Smith converted the penalty to make it 3-1.
Man-of-the-match Weaver then netted a late double to complete his hat-trick. The first was a powerful low drive into the far bottom corner before he spun neatly on the edge of the box and delicately curled home his third and Lincoln’s fifth.
Sandwiched in-between those two late goals for Weaver was a late BGU red card, as frustrated striker Sean James lost his cool and flew into a challenge with excessive force before pushing several Lincoln players away in the aftermath.
It was the perfect Lincoln response as they bounced back in clinical fashion after last year’s defeat.
Both universities brought impressive followings and a crowd over 1,000 greeted both teams onto the pitch on a chilly night.
It was a fairly uneventful opening with both teams pacing themselves, trying to work their way into the game. Nerves were apparent too, epitomised when BGU goalkeeper Richard Greenway sliced a simple clearance out for a throw-in early on.
Tensions threatened to boil over 16 minutes in as Lincoln’s Matt Reynolds was sliced down after a mazy midfield run. Pushing and shoving ensued before referee Gary Sutton was forced to intervene, speaking to both captains in a bid to defuse the situation. An indication that this match is more than just a ‘friendly’ and representing just how eager both sides were to obtain bragging rights.
Ball retention, though, was proving both team’s downfall. Neither side could command a significant amount of possession to do serious harm to the other and the ball was surrendered on too frequent an occasion.
Given the untidy complexion of the outfield play, it was perhaps no surprise to see both sides attempt to utilise set-pieces instead, and a corner in the 32nd minute proved to be Lincoln’s key to unlock BGU’s back door.
Weaver swung the ball in from the right and Lawrence, completely unmarked at the back post, nodded the ball in off the upright to hand Lincoln the lead, though Greenway can be disappointed he didn’t get a strong enough hand out to rebuff the effort.
But what do they say about London buses? You wait all day for one and then two come along at once, and just four minutes later, Lincoln’s supporters in the Stacey West Stand were silenced as BGU hit back.
James crossed from the left flank and Hornsey, charging into the Lincoln box and dissecting both centre halves, applied the decisive touch to send the ball scuttling into the bottom right-hand corner, levelling proceedings to the delight of the BGU supporters.
Both sides had chances to take the lead as the game fizzled out towards half-time. BGU’s James spun well on the edge of penalty area and struck a decent effort on goal that Warren McCreeth held comfortably before, on the stroke of half-time, Lincoln’s Weaver attempted to catch Greenway out but his effort from deep was rebuffed by BGU’s stopper.
In a second half starved of action, a rare break in the 65th minute. Weaver accelerated down the left flank and hit the ball square across the face of goal but Baxter Smith, on the stretch, couldn’t get that pivotal touch that would have seen Lincoln re-take the lead.
Just minutes later, George Tuck went on a mazy run down the right flank before being up-ended. Weaver stood over it, chest puffed out and taking a few deep breaths. The architect of Lincoln’s first goal then took aim himself, delicately curling the ball low around the wall and into the far corner, deceiving everybody, including Greenway in the BGU goal.
There was an explosion of emotion from Weaver, Lincoln’s outstanding player in this contest, and he sprinted towards the corner flag alongside his teammates and celebrated in front of the Lincoln supporters who then proceeded to bellow out a rendition of “your defence is terrified; Weaver’s on fire.”
The BGU defenders were indeed terrified and when he wriggled into the box just minutes later, they were void of ideas about how to stop him and had to resort to bundling him over.
Smith stood over it and side-footed the ball with the perfect blend of accuracy and power to convert past Greenway.
Lincoln then started to ease off, allowing BGU back into the game as the clock ticked down to the final 10 minutes.
Hornsey shot over having cut inside from the left before a header from deep was rebuffed by Lincoln ‘keeper McCreeth and the ball trickled out to the six-yard box where Nat D’Rosario failed to convert a glorious chance.
Lincoln then responded, accelerating through the gears again. Weaver struck a speculative free-kick from range that Greenway was forced to tip over.
Weaver’s resulting corner was easily cleared but the ball fell back to Lincoln’s striker, who sprinted forward and took command of the situation meeting the ball on the right-hand corner of the box and struck an equally sweet effort that flew into the bottom corner. Greenway didn’t even move, such was the power of the strike.
BGU’s misery was complete in the 90th minute as James was shown a second yellow card for a late tackle and sparking a melee in which he pushed several Lincoln players away with excessive force.
A man down and confidence shattered, BGU were a sitting duck and just seconds later they were 5-1 down. Weaver collected the ball on the edge of the box and spun superbly, using his wand of a left-foot to curl the ball into that same bottom corner, completing his hat-trick and the scoring for the night.
And what a night it was for Weaver and for Lincoln, who took home the trophy and local bragging rights.Tweet