Date: 10th January 2013 at 10:54am
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Lincoln City under 18’s played out a tough 1-1 draw last night at home to their counterparts from Chesterfield in the Midlands youth Cup group stages. The match was delayed by an hour and a half due to the visitors getting stuck in heavy traffic following a crash on the A15. The Imps had taken the lead through Jordan Thomas but chesterfield drew level before half time through Cormac Noel. The second half never really got going and this draw meant that the visitors progressed to play Walsall in the second round.

Lincoln City under 18’s lined up for this match in a conventional 442 formation. The standout player in the Imps lineup for this match was striker Jordan Thomas who signed a pro deal earlier on in the season. His usual strike partner Conner Robinson started for the first team last night at Southport.

The kick off was delayed by over an hour and a half due to the Chesterfield bus getting stuck in traffic on the way to Lincoln. The Imps won the toss and elected to take the kick attacking the South stand. Chesterfield brought the first save of the match from the left but a low shot was easily saved by Myles in the first minute. This was followed up seconds later by Johnson bringing out a good save from the Imps keeper to keep the scores level. The Imps won the first free kick of the game but despite a good delivery form Rice the flag was up for offside.

Chesterfield brought another good save from Myles when Hewitt was allowed far too much freedom on the edge of the box before unleashing a powerful drive that was put behind for a corner. The corner was well cleared by the Imps back line in a very open start to the match. Chesterfield threatened again when Noel ran with ease past Legget down the right and his cross was well blocked and clear for a corner by Captain Weaver. The corner again was cleared by the Imps defence.

The Imps had their first effort on target in the 11th minute when a deep free kick was met by Weaver but his header was straight at Barrington in the Chesterfield goal and he claimed the ball easily. Matt Cotton had the next effort on goal from the edge of the box but his curling effort was beaten away by Barrington. The Imps were begging to get good control of the match and Chesterfield were guilty of a few late challenges n the middle of the park and Hewitt was given a stern word from ref Simon Swain.

Chesterfield had a good move down the right resulting Ian. Brilliant lofted cross by Fereday headed narrowly wide by Bowland, the keeper would have had little chance if the header was just a few inches to the right. With the Imps defence trying to hold a high line the through balls from Chesterfield were proving to fairly effective at getting in behind and wide of the Imps defence. Chesterfield again broke and with poor defending evident again down the Imps right the ball fell to Hewitt on the edge f the box but luckily he scuffed his shot wide and out of play harmlessly. Joel again had the beating of Leggett outside but his shot as he cut inside onto his right foot went wide of the near post.

The Imps took the lead on the half hour mark, but the move before it was sublime play in the centre of the pitch releasing Simmons in the box but his shot was saved at close range before the ball was thrown back into the box where Thomas was left unmarked to place the ball into the top far corner of the goal and give Barrington no chance, despite his superb initial save.

Chesterfield pushed to get an instant reply but the best they could must was a long throw by Scully that was half cleared before Fereday fired the ball wide from outside the box. The Imps had a good chance for a second goal when again Cotton and Thomas linked up brilliantly to release Thomas in the box but he was put under pressure just a she shot and missed the ball allowing the keeper to claim it.

Chesterfields hard work paid off in the 37th minute when the Imps high line again failed them a simple forward ball took out the backwards running Imps defenders and it fell to Cormac Noel to slot it into the back of the net calmly past Myles to make the scores 1-1 and at this stage it was a fair election of the match. Chesterfield looked the more likely to take the lead as they gained some good possession of the ball and put some threatening crosses into the box, but the Imps were resolute at the back and made sure they met them first. Just before the half time break a cross from the left by McNicholas was deflected and Bowland stretched for the ball but it flew just over the bar, agonisingly close to taking the lead.

The sides remained unchanged for the start of the second half and Chesterfield kicked off attacking the South Stand. The half started with both sides taking it in turns to hoof the ball out of play before the sides got back in to the rhythm of the match with the Imps getting the ball down on the ground and looking to build winning a free kick down the right near the area. A dangerous ball in by Rice was well cleared though and hacked away from danger. Hewitt had a tame effort from the edge of the box as the first shot of the half that was easily held by the Imps keeper.

The Imps won another free kick down the right when Hewitt was adjudged to have handled the ball attempting to clear. Rice struck the ball but it was too near the keeper and resulted in a save for Barrington. A good chance and a decent free kick from Rice. The Imps had started the second half the brighter and more threatening of the two sides. Alex Simmons got on the end of a great through ball but he completely miss cued his effort and struck air when a pull back to runners forward was a better option. Simmons showed much better technique shortly afterwards with a dangerous corner into the ball cleared at stretch by Barrington.

With half an hour of the match left to play Chesterfield had struggled to threaten enough to create a chance on the Imps goal. Frustration was beginning to show and Bowland was booked for a late challenge after he poorly gave the ball away n the edge of the imps box. Matt Cotton was the recipient of the bad challenge and required treatment from the Lincoln physio. This injury seemed to flatten the game with both sides struggling to do anything of note with the ball after the restart.

The Imps had a poor corner half cleared from Rice before Thomas picked the ball up on the edge of the box but his left foot shot was never any danger to Barrington. Cotton was then replaced with 20 minutes to play after his earlier incident; he was replaced by Rob Smith. Ben Partridge replaced Fabian Johnson for the visitors at the same time.

Smith was straight in the action winning a corner down the right after some hard work. The resulting corner taken by Rice was met by the head of Weaver but he failed to make a clean connection and the ball sailed high and wide of the goal. The Imps were again pressing and slightly edging the game when Chesterfield countered and but for a great sliding clearance by Bowles a cross from the right would have been met by Noel unmarked in the Imps box. A great piece of last ditch defending to keep the scores level.

Rob Taylor had the next shot of the match but again it was from range and never in any danger of hitting the target. With the game entering the final 10 minutes it looked like it would end in a stalemate with either side able to create that clear cut chance needed. Rice got on the end of some decent attacking play by the Imps but he wasted the opportunity by shooting for goal from well out when there were far better options available. Another half chance came to the Imps when a raking ball wide to Rice saw the winger cut inside releasing Taylor, but for some reason he decided to shoot from the angle instead of crossing the ball across the 6 yard box, another wasted opportunity for the Imps.

With 5 minutes of the match remaining the inks brought Kieran Helsdown on in place of Simmons in attack in the hope that he could help find a late winner for the Imps. Weaver had another header from a deep cross but it was a difficult ball to deal with and it went out for a gold kick. Chesterfield broke at pace and substitute Partridge was clipped accidentally from behind by Leggett, the defender lucky not to receive a booking as he was the last man in defence. The free kick hit the wall as 3 minutes of added time was indicated by the fourth official. Despite some late pressure the Imps couldn’t find a breakthrough and the ref blew the final whistle to end the game as a 1-1 draw.

Not the best game I have seen but due to the lengthy wait it was no surprise. The real surprise was that the Imps couldn’t take advantage of Chesterfields lack of warm up or preparation before the match. They pulled up in the car park only 15 minutes before the ref blew the whistle to start the match. The real problem for the young Imps for me was a lack of patience in the final third. Players were too keen to shoot from ridiculous angles or attempt highly risky balls when easier and better options were available to them.

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