Date: 24th October 2012 at 9:37pm
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Lincoln City under 18’s secured their passage to the second round of the FA Youth Cup with a convincing 3-2 victory over Notts County tonight in front of around 200 fans at Sincil Bank. The goals for the Imps came from Conner Robinson and two for the impressive attacking midfielder Rob Taylor.

Lincoln city appeared to be taking this match seriously by bringing in Conner Robinson who has enjoyed a successful run in the first team. He will partner Jordan Thomas who has scored regularly for the Under 18’s this season and recently signed a two year professional deal with the club.

Notts County who have had a poor season so far in the league and sit bottom are relient on their centre forward Romello Nangle to score the goals, he made his d├ębut for the County first team last season. It was good to see that the away players were under the supervision of first team manager Keith Curle at the back of the Echo stand.

The Imps kicked off facing towards the south stand in a light drizzle. Just three minutes in to the match the Imps had the first effort on target when Thomas ran through on the right side and hit a powerful shot that was parried by Andrews agonisingly out of reach from Robinson on the follow up. The resulting corner was played to Everington on the edge of the box and he hit his shot just over the bar.

A free kick from the left hand side of the area was taken by Taylor and it resulted in two shots being desperately blocked by the County defence, the ball then found its way to Taylor on the left and his great tricky run resulted in a cut back that unfortunately only found a County defender who booted the ball down the pitch. The Imps have made all of the early running.

Counties first chance of the match came after ten minutes when a cross form the left side found its way too easily to Lavelle-Moore but luckily he was too rash in his effort and miscued his shot and the ball was cleared up the pitch. He was afforded far too much time and space in the Imps penalty area.

Against the run of play it was County who took the lead in this tie, it was a wonderful strike from their number nine Nangle, but he was given too much space on the edge of the box before he unleashed a powerful effort that gave Pannell little chance but pick the ball out of the net.

It did not take the Imps long to get back into the match though and just five minutes later Conner Robinson had tied the match level, he picked up the ball under pressure from the centre back but executed a brilliant turn deceiving his marker before cutting back on to his right foot and shooting low into the bottom corner of the goal giving Andrews no chance.

Just two minutes later the Imps took the lead, a long ball forward from the left aimed towards Thomas was fumbled by the keeper who only managed to parry it to Taylor on the right side of the area who took a touch before dispatching it low into the far corner. The Imps were fully deserving of their lead in this match.

Shortly after the second goal Andrews showed his nerves when a free kick form the left side from the impressive Rob Taylor was obtain fumbled but sadly this time the ball was intercepted by a county defender a cleared down the pitch. The movement by the Imps going forward was very impressive Thomas was dropping wide on the right and Taylor and Robinson were interchanging on the left side of the pitch making it hard for County to pick them up.

The next chance for the Imps came not form good movement like most o free play but a route one ball, Thomas knocked it down to Taylor who passed the ball back to the striker who hit it first time from the edge o free area towards goal, sadly it was just tipped over by the keeper and the striker was denied a brilliant goal. The resulting corner from the left hit the post and fell to Bowles but his goal bound shot was deflected wide. The Imps were well on top in this match and it seemed that Countys only real chance of getting back into this match was through Nangle but his service was limited to only long balls forward. The fourth official indicated just one minutes added time before the ref duly blew for half time and the Imps went in with a well deserved lead.

The second began with County looking to get back in the match. The Imps made no changes at half time and it was understandable why following a superb first half performance with the only blemish being the unlikely goal from Nangle. County brought on Campbell in place of Guy at left back. It didn’t take long for the Imps to grab their third goal of the match though and it was Taylor again capitalising on another spill from the County keeper, this time he had parried an Aaron Rice shot after the winger cut in from the right side of the pitch onto his stronger left foot.

This goal seemed to knock what little fight county had out of them they were struggling to get a hold of any possession and were resorting to long balls played forward to no one.the only moment of worry for the Imps was when a pack pass to Pannell was chased down but the keeper showed great composure to to pass the ball out instead of hoofing it out of play.

He followed this up with a shaky moment when a corner was hit to him and when he had no one around him challenging he missed the ball and it went out for another corner off the inside of his gloves. The next corner he punched the ball poorly when a catch should have been the better option for him but luckily the defence was able to clear and the clearance was into the path of Thomas who broke with pace and some quick footwork saw him take it round his marker. At this point a pass was the best option but he decided to shoot and it went narrowly over the bar.

The Imps looked like the only side who would get on the score sheet again and with half an hour left another piece of good play found Rice on the edge of the 6 yard box but his left footed strike was saved comfortably by Andrews but you did sense that the Imps would be by far the most likely to get the next goal. Despite this pressure County did show a glimmer of hope when a cross from the right was met by Randall but his effort flew over the bar and nearly out of the ground.

Aaron Rince was on the receiving end of a heavy headed challenge from Liam Guest from a goal kick and this caused the physio to enter the play for the first time in the match with around 25 minutes of play still to go, it seemed a fair challenge and as such the ref started again with a drop ball that was duly kicked back to the County keeper. rice came back on almost straight away with no Ill effects.

Sixty five minutes into the match County made their second change with Goldie Bange replacing Ryan Freshwater. A name that I will struggle to forget. This change gave County an instant boost when a ball in from the left side found its way to Dixon, but his effort was hit wide of the post. Pannell was put under pressure form another corner and again he got very lucky when he fumbled the ball again at the back post when it was hacked away by an Imps defender.

County now showed more purpose and aggression this was shown when Elliot Hodge went in heavy on Nick Green , he was given a stern talking to but no more. County then hit an effort narrowly wide through Lavelle-Moore this was the highest level of sustained pressure the Imps had had to cope with. The Imps made their first change of the match with 15 minutes to go when Alex Simmonds came on for the impressive and lively Thomas in a straight swap in attack.

Nangle again caused problems for Leggett at the ack this time it was his pace as he raced on to a hoofed ball forward from McGowan but Pannell read the ball superbly and rushed out to clear the ball away. Nangle would have definitely had a great chance to get his second had the keeper not been so alert. Shortly after this chance the physio was called on to the pitch as Matt Bowles was laid down on the pitch and whilst he walked off the pitch he was unable to carry on and was replaced by Josh Gibson for the final ten minutes of the match.

This change meant Robinson dropped back to midfield allowing Hibson to go alongside Simmonds in attack. The Imps pressed forward again and with only five minutes to go another effort went goal wards but sadly it struck the post leaving Simmonds disappointed. Rice then tried to replicate his earlier effort that set up ataylors second goal but sadly this time his shot went straight instead of curling in towards the goal.

Straight form this effort County managed to play in a ball to Randall in the area and he had enough space to head towards goal but Pannell was well positioned and caught the ball comfortably out of the air. Sadly it was Pannell who gifted County their second goal when a harmless bouncing long ball was allowed to find Nangle in the box before the keeper came out. If Pannell had rushed out with the purpose he showed earlier on in the match he would have caught the ball easily. As it was he was left in a crumpled heap as County rushed the ball back to the centre circle with the hope of an equalising goal.

Four minutes of added time was shown and what should have been a comfortable end for the Imps was anything but following that second goal form Nangle. County were certainly huffing and puffing but they were struggling to get behind the Imps back line and were reduced to playing the congested middle third of the pitch. With the game all but over a coming together between Simmons and Lavelle-Moore resulted in the physio coming on. This was the last action of the match and the Imps secured their place in the second round of the FA Youth cup.

An impressive performance by the young Imps who displayed some passing and moving in attack that sadly Is rarely seen by the senior side of late. They could have put the game to bed but for some narrow misses and those misses nearly came back to haunt them in the final moment of the match when poor judgement from Pannell allowed County the chance to get back in the match. Defensively the Imps were OK but like the senior side they had their moments and forced unneeded and unforced pressure in themselves.

Overall a great result and a brilliant display of attacking passing and movement between Thomas, Robinson, Taylor and Rice in particular. This quality in possession was the main difference between the sides and County just didn’t posses the guile and ability that Lincoln did in attack.

The next round will see the Imps at home against Hartlepool United.

Match Stats: The Imps 3-2 Notts County (FA Youth Cup)

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