Date: 12 September 2009
No doubt Eddie will chant his usual mantra about “could’ve done better”, but this was a day on which most fans couldn’t care less about that! At the end of this match, after waiting in the stands for confirmation of the Rotherham result, everyone left in a very happy frame of mind, singing “We are top of the league, say, we are top of the league.” We’ll accept ‘below par’ games all season if we can win 3-1 and go home celebrating the fact that we’re league leaders.
The omens were good from the start of the afternoon. The weather was dry - as predicted - but also a lot sunnier and warmer than forecast. Dean Court (will someone please inform the BBC that we’re not the FFS anymore?) looked bright and reasonably full (crowd: 5385); it was good to see the disabled section of the East Stand open and the scoreboard working. The team lined up as for the second half against Torquay, except that Pearce had returned for Guyett. Or, to put it another way, we lined up as for the home game against Rotherham except that Igoe and Feeney had swapped wings. Either way, those were matches we’d won, so this was a winning combination. And pre-match injury fears concerning Bradbury, Igoe and Fletcher all proved to be false alarms.
Proceedings started a bit slowly, because Cummings was floored - apparently with an eye injury - within a minute of two. But he recovered, and the game got going, and in the seventh minute a Bradbury free kick from the right (under the Main Stand) found Fletcher’s head and Fletch nodded it down to Pitman who managed to fire home on the turn. 1-0. The game came alive and there was very nearly an immediate second Cherries’ goal: Pitman only just failed to reach a near-perfect Feeney cross from the left, and gave Feeney the thumbs-up to acknowledge what an excellent ball it had been. On fourteen minutes, Pitman passed to Molesley, who appeared to have an open goal to shoot at, but in the end only succeeded winning us a corner.
So we had to wait till the twentieth minute for another goal. A Feeney throw, right in front of the Lincoln supporters, seemed to be aimed at Pearce’s head. Whether or not Pearce got a touch to it, the ball maintained direction and Igoe - standing in almost exactly the same position as Pitman for the first goal, slammed the ball into the identical corner of the net. 2-0. Continuing the similarity to Pitman’s goal there was, once again, almost an immediate follow-up when a quite brilliant run by Cummings up the centre of the park resulted in a pass back to Pitman, who unnecessarily rushed his shot and fired the ball over the top of the net. So it could have been 4-0 by now, and we continued to dominate the game for the next five minutes so that, when Lincoln scored, it was quite literally against the run of play. A ball thrown in from Lincoln’s right found a player’s head, and he directed it to the feet of Fagan, who quite brilliantly spun round and rammed the ball home. Our first goal conceded at Dean Court this season occurred so fast that a totally static Cherries’ defence would have to wait for the video to see what exactly had hit them. But our heads didn’t drop. On the thirty-sixth minute Fletcher headed another ball to Pitman who would have been in a perfect position to ease it into the net if he hadn’t got, by now, two defenders marking him! Four minutes later there was a nervous moment reminiscent of the Torquay game when Jalal appeared to be injured and Thomas warmed up just-in-case. But all was well, and Jalal carried on. This injury, along with Cummings’ earlier on, meant that the referee needed to add three minutes to the half. This was all too much for the scoreboard, which had just provided its first full 45 minutes of ‘action’ of the season. It promptly gave up the ghost and blanked out; so we had to leave it to the referee to count down the added time for us. Half-time: 2-1.
The second half began with Igoe and Feeney having swapped wings again. As always, the central midfielders also swapped accordingly, so that Molesley continued to play alongside Feeney and Robinson alongside Igoe. But to be honest both central midfielders had had a very quiet game up to this point and it wasn’t surprising when - after ten minutes of Lincoln domination including two Lincoln corners in quick succession - Molesley was substituted. The crowd expected this to be the cue for Captain Hollands’ return to action but we were wrong; it was Bartley who was sent on and once again Howe’s decision proved to be inspired. With the (once again restored) scoreboard showing exactly sixty minutes (if it could be believed!) Bartley began a very impressive run down Bournemouth’s left wing. Feeney overtook him and delivered a perfect cross into the penalty area. But was there anyone there? The ball sailed past everyone and found an unmarked Igoe, who clinically shot into the top corner of the net, just for a change! 3-1. Chances to extend the lead continued to come, with Pitman misfiring one shot and Fletch missing a golden opportunity a minute later when he let the ball go straight past him. Cummings was also continuing to perform well all over the park, and getting in some good challenges.
It wasn’t until ten minutes or so from the end that Bournemouth showed any sign of ‘sitting on’ their lead, and the game turned into a bit of a knockabout. At one point Jalal pulled off a courageous save from the foot of a Lincoln player. Howe had seen enough of this, and responded by bringing off Feeney - who got one of the lengthiest standing ovations ever seen - and replacing him with Hollands, who continued in the same position on the left wing. Another inspired substitution! On his very first contact with the ball, Hollands shot straight into the keeper’s hands; and on his second touch he won us a corner! The Lincoln keeper was soon in action again, catching a swinging corner kick from Pitman that seemed goal-bound without any assistance from anyone else. Two minutes from time at the other end, the ‘open’ end, of the stadium a Lincoln free kick was excellently taken and the ball hit the crossbar but bounced back out. Immediately after this, on the break, Pitman steamed forward with the ball and showed he still wasn’t tiring at all. But he had no-one to support him now. A minute later Fletcher won us a corner on Bournemouth’s right and Pitman tried some very clever tactic presumably straight off the training ground, involving two other players, but whatever was meant to happen didn’t and the opportunity fizzled out.
Once again, three minutes were added to the half. Igoe, by now named as sponsors’ man-of-the-match, was substituted - and also received a standing ovation, though not quite as long as Feeney’s! McQuoid came on to replace him but in no time we were celebrating a 3-1 win, and - rapture - the honour of being officially the league leaders.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):