|Nationwide League Division 3|
|30th September 2000|
|Attendance: 3, 494|
|Rob Wheldon at Sincil Bank|
Stags boss Billy Dearden made two changes from the side which were defeated in the midweek Worthington Cup clash with Southampton, John Fortune and Bobby Hassell starting in place of Alistair Asher and John Andrews. In a 3-5-2 formation, Hicks, Fortune and Robinson played at the back and the central midfield area consisted of Hassell, Clarke and Blake. Michael Boulding continued in attack with Danny Bacon again on the bench. Ex-Stags striker Phil Stant and ex-Stags player and manager George Foster are now the management team at Lincoln, the Stags connections didn't end there as on the bench was former Stags midfielder John Schofield, though the other ex-Stag Scott Eustace was ruled out through injury.
After a nice bright day the weather soon took a turn for the worse and made conditions extremely difficult, which hardly suited the Stags passing game. It appeared to be a little more advantageous to the home side as they are notoriously dangerous from free kicks, corners and throw-ins, though to be fair to the Imps, their style is somewhat more sophisticated than under John Beck!! Greenacre was first to try his luck, firing well over with a half-volley from 25 yards - who can blame him for trying though!! Stags almost grabbed the lead when Clarke's long range effort took a wicked deflection but Imps keeper Marriott managed to change direction and grab the ball on the line. At the other end Mimms produced a fine one handed save from a dangerous free kick from the Lincoln left. Stags were caught out on the quarter hour by a long ball over the defence, Hicks had to make a challenge after Mimms had advanced but not got to the ball, however, he brought down Gordon on the left hand edge of the Stags box and was rightly booked. Hicks then, in typical fashion, headed clear the free kick. More pressure on the Stags goal was bravely averted by Hassell who first challenged Gordon, then the very impressive Finnigan as both looked destined to shoot towards goal. Blake then became the second Stags player in the book five minutes before the break after sliding on the wet surface, failing to make contact with the ball and collecting Barnett on his way. Thankfully the torrential downpour had eased as the half wore on, at one stage the game looked in danger of being abandoned.
An improvement in the weather lead to a dramatic improvement in the Stags form, and the opening few minutes of the half were played in the Lincoln half. Boulding tested Marriott from long range and then Clarke almost put the Stags ahead as his powerful drive flew narrowly wide. Again the only threat from the home side came via set pieces, and Holmes should have done better than heading against the side netting. The Stags were looking very dangerous coming forward and just after the hour they went ahead. Greenacre broke through the Lincoln defence and slid the ball to Williams on his right, Williams cut in and hit a powerful shot which could only be parried by Marriott, Boulding was on hand to neatly tap home the rebound. Stags were then twice indebted to Clarke for goal-line clearances from Lincoln corners. From the first he volleyed the ball clear after Gordon's header had beaten Mimms, then just a few minutes later the Stags midfielder was again on hand to head clear a Holmes header. As Lincoln pushed forward Mimms had to be sharp to push clear a long range effort then the post intervened as Mimms was beaten by Miller's close range chip. However, it was not all one way, the Stags looked equally likely to score on the counter and indeed made sure of the points just 7 minutes from time. Again Williams was heavily involved, this time picking out Clarke with an inch perfect ball on the edge of the box as the Stags poured forward. Clarke still had quite a bit to do, but skipped pas the one Lincoln defender before calmly slotting the ball past Marriott. From then on the result was not in doubt, indeed the visitors could have added to their impressive goals tally in the final moments, both Greenacre and sub Bacon having attempts at Marriott's goal.
A very impressive 90 minutes from the Stags. In awful conditions they defended well in the first half and shared possession in an even 45 minutes. A well taken goal by Boulding was followd by some pressure on the Stags goal from Lincoln but a combination of good defending and good keeping kept the Imps at bay. The last goal was so typical of many of the goals the Stags have scored this season, a swift counter, incisive passing followed by clinical finishing. Fortune and Hicks did well under the aerial bombardment, and Clarke did very well in the 2nd half at both ends of the pitch. Bobby Hassell added that touch of class to the defensive midfield role and really was excellent. Lee Williams had a poor first half, but was as good as he's been all season in the 2nd, lets hope he gets confidence from the 2nd half performance. Bobby Mimms again showed what a good keeper he still is at the age of 36 but Man of the Match for me was Les Robinson, who is improving game by game and was, today, excellent in the defensive trio, rarely wasting possession and always seemed on hand to avert any defensive crisis. As for Lincoln and our old favourites, they probably had the best player on the pitch in Finnigan and did cause problems from set pieces. However, sides who come to Sincil Bank are more than aware what to expect now and there was an air of predictability about their attacking play.
Man of the Match: Les Robinson
|Mimms||8||Outstanding when called upon despite the difficult conditions|
|Fortune||7||Mostly very sound, though beaten on the floor a couple of times|
|Robinson||9||Bang in form and superb in the defensive line|
|Hicks||8||Customary whole-hearted display|
|Williams||7||Poor first half, excellent 2nd, set both goals up with terrific passes|
|Corden||6||Still a little too much on the periphery|
|Hassell||8||Showed why he should be one of the 1st names on the team sheet - class act|
|Blake||7||Another powerful display|
|Clarke||8||Took his goal tremendously, like Willow had an excellent 2nd half|
|Boulding||7||Finished well when the ball rebounded to him at an awkward height|
|Greenacre||7||Constant threat, one fine shot, heavily involved in the 1st goal - fine display|
|Jervis||7||for Corden - 79 mins - Gave the Stags natural width on the left|
|Bacon||6||for Boulding - 84 mins - Neat touches towards the end of the game|
|Asher||6||for Williams - 90 mins - don't think he touched the ball|
|Unused: Pilkington, Andrews|