It may have may have only been a friendly, but it was hard not to be impressed with the men in red and white as they outclassed League One Doncaster Rovers, with Jordan Burrow and Alan Power scoring in a 2-0 win
For hard-working Burrow, it was his first goal in a City shirt as he met trialist Jake Caprice’s excellent cross with a bullet header after 55 minutes. Skipper Power then scored the second nine minutes from time, a goal that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the World Cup as he flipped the ball over a defender’s head before smashing a peach of a volley into the roof of the net.
Imps boss Gary Simpson had been bemoaning his lack of options before the match, which doubled up as the John Reames Memorial Trophy, with Karl Ledsham, Sahr Kabba and Jon Nolan all on the sidelines, with three trialists and Hamza Bencherif making up four of the just six substitutes, but he must have been delighted with what he saw this afternoon as his troops completely not one, but two Rovers sides as their manager Paul Dickov fielded two different line-ups each half.
Bencherif was an interesting name on the team sheet as he had been training with Blackpool for most of the week, but found himself with a Saturday off and told Simpson he was available, with the City boss hardly likely to turn down his offer and gave him a second-half run out.
Another trialist, Jake Caprice, would not have created much of a ripple of interest, but that will all have changed as the former Blackpool youngster, released by the Tangerines earlier this summer, turned in an accomplished display when coming on for the injured Tom Miller after half an hour, showing some silky silks, producing marauding runs and delivering an inch-perfect cross for the first goal, while he could have also have had a goal himself late on. With Simpson looking for additional options down the right-hand side, Caprice will have given the ‘gaffer’ plenty to think about with a solid performance.
In front of a crowd of 1,144 (with 358 Rovers fans in good voice and armed with red smoke bombs), City started well and could have been a goal to the good inside five minutes when Sean Newton’s corner was nodded goalwards by Ben Tomlinson only to be headed off the line by James Coppinger. Another vicious Newton corner seven minutes saw MIller head tamely wide.
City needed to be alert at the back after good work by Paul Keegan and Harry Forrester put in Lewis Ferguson, but he was bundled off the ball by quick-thinking Nat Brown.
There was then a blow for City as Miller had to come off with what looked a pulled hamstring and he was replaced by Caprice, who had recently been training with Stevenage, before being released. Simpson admitted afterwards that he didn’t think Miller was going to be fit for the match and obviously he was never 100 per cent right.
With Rovers changing their entire XI at half-time, Dickov handed Nathan Tyson his first opportunity in a Doncaster shirt, but it was City who made early inroads and could have been ahead inside the first 20 seconds, when City broke forward with Conner Robinson playing a delightful ball to the back post for Mendy, who had timed his tun to perfection, but the Frenchman fired a shot into the side netting from six yards out.
But after 55 minutes, Lincoln finally drove home the advantage, with a goal from a well-worked move. Another terrific run down the left saw Tomlinson lay the ball off to Burrow, who squared to Robinson, who in turn played in the over-lapping Caprice, whose sublime cross picked out the head of Burrow, who powerfully headed past trialist keeper Jamie Ashdown.
Something of a midfield stalemate ensued for the next 2 minutes, with Rovers struggling to create anything of note against a City side, who now had Bencherif alongside Tony Diagne, who had come on for Brown at half-time
Caprice was continuing to impress at right-back and he nearly made it a dream debut 10 minutes from time. Receiving the ball from on-trial keeper Luke Chambers, on for Paul Farman, he hit a pass to sub Alex Simmons and raced up the line to receive it back from the promising youngster. Caprice, who started his career at Crystal Palace then, rather then laying the ball wide to Robinson, darted towards the area, skipped past one challenge and cracked a shot goalwards which was excellently tipped behind by Ashdown.
From the corner, City increased their lead with a top-drawer finish by man-of-the-match Power. Newton’s set-piece was cleared to Power who, under pressure, casually flicked the ball over a Rovers defender, and as the ball dropped, he hit a stunning volley past Ashdown into the roof of the net, for a goal worthy of a much bigger stage than this friendly at Sincil Bank.
With the game done and dusted, Rovers did actually finally manage a shot on target as Alex Peterson’s tame effort from 20 yards was comfortably saved by Chambers, who once again, looked assured between the sticks for Lincoln.
So, a 2-0 win for City against a League One side, not only was a terrific result, but it was an excellent all-round performance with not one bad performance on the day and for those doubters spouting doom and gloom, even they must have had to sit up and take notice that actually this Imps side is not that bad. And if they could just bring in two or three more quality player, then who knows this season.