A tribute match in memory of the late Keith Alexander took place on Bank Holiday Monday, May 3rd, with an Alexander XI and an All Star XI playing out an entertaining 4-4 draw.

The stars spent time signing autographs for fans beforehand, with Dion Dublin and Paul Merson among those satisfying the souvenir hunters. In all, 3541 supporters crammed into the ground to pay their respects to the yellow-sock wearing manager.

Mark Halsey, who had to take time out of the game recently after suffering from cancer, got the game underway after fans and players took part in a minute’s applause for the former St Lucia international. Simon Yeo directed a header over Barry Richardson’s goal and then fired wide from the edge of the area early on as both sets of players settled into the game at a blustery Sincil Bank. A vicious Paul Davis volley went wide for the All-Stars soon after.

Just over ten minutes into the game, Francis Green’s cross from the right hand flank found Yeo unmarked at the back stick, who drilled the ball into the roof of the net and gave the Alexander XI the lead. They nearly added to that lead when an alert Richard Butcher tried to lob Richardson from 25 yards, but the goalkeeper was equal to the effort.

The All-Stars were denied an equaliser when a Paul Merson volley was directed into the back of the net by Davis. However, the effort was ruled out by the assistant referee — a decision greeted by a chorus of boos from the crowd.

The game was proving an open affair, and Green had the best chance to extend the Alexander XI’s lead — but he managed to balloon the ball over the bar from six yards. Leon Mettam did double the lead for his side after 37 minutes though when Richardson could only help his header into the corner of the net.

The teams emerged for the second half with Ben Sedgemore taking an unlikely role between the sticks for the Alexander XI. Despite the change, his side stretched their lead to three goals when Martin Carruthers nodded the ball in from inches out after 55 minutes.

The All Star XI reduced the deficit to two goals halfway into the second half, when a fine through ball found Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who rolled back the years to fire the ball past Sedgemore. And then the All Stars grabbed another —  Steve Hodge’s blistering 20-yard strike made the back of the net bulge and meant the Alexander XI were left harbouring a slender lead.

Hodge grabbed a second when he struck the ball into the bottom right hand corner with the outside of his left boot. That levelled the scores, but Brian Deane’s 82nd minute goal completed the comeback to make it 4-3.

A controversial penalty was awarded by Halsey in the 90th minute which gave the Alexander XI the chance to equalise in the last moments of the game. The penalty was missed, but Jamie Forrester pounced on the rebound to send the game to a penalty shootout.

The shootout was largely academic because the match had already proved a massive success and a fitting tribute to ‘Big Keith’.

– The Linc will be releasing exclusive interviews with the likes of Dion Dublin and Paul Ince over the coming days.