Question of the WeekWhat do you think of the new timekeeping rules?
The Pride of Lincolnshire
By: Andrew Doherty
TONIGHT'S pre-season campaign continues with a home game against Lincoln City. Unlike previous matches, we're back to the conventional format of 2 x 45 minutes, so the affable commentator on Mariners TV won't get confused.
Town have done well to arrange the matches we have, and everything points us to being ready when the season starts for real. 2,933 spectators turned out tonight.
Tonight's starting XI was: Eastwood - Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Glennon - Eisa, Conteh, Hunt, Clifton, Vernam - Rose. After a languid start by both sides, Town started to get into gear with good passing and movement, but at the death were guilty of falling over their feet as they found themselves unable to penetrate Lincoln's defence. Glennon managed a weak shot on target after 19 minutes. It was good to see both sides playing with intensity, with Town winning in this department. Hunt broke through on 24 minutes but there was no-one to meet his low cross. Town took a deserved lead on 30 minutes when the impressive Hunt broke through again and fired home from a tight angle on the right. Eastwood, who had had nothing to do in Town's goal, was forced to make a good low save on 32 minutes and then a palmed clearance from a ferocious shot four minutes later as Lincoln finally woke up. Town's persistence paid off again when following an interception Rose received a perfectly weighted pass and slid his shot home from the right edge of the six yard line. 38 minutes gone, and it was 2 - 0 to Town, who were now playing with confidence in all areas. The work rate was good. The skill level and interplay showed signs of where we want to be. Conteh and Hunt looked to be orchestrating things in midfield, with good support from Clifton and Eisa. This was very encouraging.
Town started the second half as they left off. Vernam should have scored on 50 minutes, rounding the keeper after making an excellent interception, but faced with an empty net managed to spoon his shot over the bar and into the Pontoon stand. Vernam was briefly looking dangerous. Town were still well on top at this stage against a lacklustre Lincoln side. The game was getting physical as Lincoln looked to muscle their way back in. Eastwood made an excellent save, tipping the ball away after rare skill and a shot from Lincoln. 60 minutes signalled a mass change of personnel for Lincoln. Efete replaced Mullarkey for Town. The weather meanwhile had deteriorated with torrential rain and sleet coming down. Lincoln controlled the play for a sustained period and provided a useful test for Town's defence. Town did win a corner on 73 minutes to earn brief respite from the visitors' pressure. That led to nothing, Lincoln continued to push forward. Eastwood showed his worth again, racing out to foul a Lincoln attack and save bravely. Town needed to keep possession at this stage and battled well to win a corner on 79 minutes and ease the pressure. But it wasn't happening. Lincoln continued to press. A misunderstanding led to a late Lincoln corner, following which a header bounced off the post but Town stood firm and ended as 2 - 0 victors.
It was clear that Town had been told to play this game as if it were a league game and points were at stake. The players responded and played with determination and intent. After a fluent first period, Town found themselves under pressure. If any criticism were to be made, it's that at 2 - 0 up, Town needed to manage the game better. But the defence handled the pressure well and that's a good sign. The holy grail of a clean sheet was achieved too. It was a productive workout, and as we have no scheduled action against our main county rivals this season, let's declare ourselves by virtue of this victory to be the Pride of Lincolnshire.
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