The Imps rewind game this afternoon comes from the 2004/05 season, when a rearranged fixture against Boston United saw us run out 2-0 winners.
We had originally been due to play the Pilgrims on Boxing Day, as we often did, but the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. By the time the fixture was rearranged, things were looking tight. Keith’s Imps were seventh in the table with 48 points from 31 games; a win would take us to the dizzy heights of fifth. However, Steve Evans’ side were still in the hunt, sitting ninth with 45 points from 31 games; a win for them could put them in a play-off place at our expense if they won by a two-goal margin.
Form was one our side; The Pilgrims had just one win in six going into the game, that coming courtesy of an Andy Kirk double at Wycombe. They did carry plenty of threat though, boasting Lee Beevers, Jason Lee, David Noble and Dean West amongst their ranks. Keith had got us firing with just two defeats in eight games since the turn of the year, although a 3-1 defeat against ten-man Rochdale the weekend before had dented our promotion push.
You can watch the match here this afternoon, as well as buy 50/50 tickets, but I thought I’d touch on a couple of names you may see if you watch that are not all that familiar. One is Guy Ipoua, but don’t click off before the game ends as he only made a brief cameo at the end. The other scores a wonder-goal for which I will always remember him. More on him in a second.
Firstly, joining Ipoua on the bench were two young players who didn’t have bad careers; Jack Hobbs and Lee Frecklington. Hobbs had made his debut a few weeks earlier against Bristol Rovers and wouldn’t play for the club again, whilst Freck had got seven minutes of the Rochdale defeat marking his first Football League action. Neither came on for us, but Ipoua did.
Ipoua had an impressive list of former clubs, Nancy, Torino, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. He came to England in 1998, and after a failed trial at Crystal Palace, he signed for Bristol Rovers. However, it was at Scunthorpe where he made his name for scoring goals, including one against Lincoln at Sincil Bank on Boxing Day 2000. By 2004/05 he was something of a fallen star, but he came to the Bank to replace another who had fallen from grace; Marcus Richardson. I’ve spoken plenty about the Richardson / Toner incident which I believe cost us promotion but Ipoua is one of the benefactors of that, of sorts. Because of Richardson’s hasty departure, Ipoua was borrowed from Doncaster Rovers,
He made his Imps debut in the Rochdale defeat, got a single minute of the Boston game and went on to come from the bench four more times, before never being seen again in Imps’ colours. Interestingly, the following season he moved to Hereford where he bagged an extra-time winner in their Conference play-off semi-final second leg against Morecambe to send them to the final, before levelling against Halifax with ten minutes to go as they ended up securing their Football League status.
If Ipoua was the striker you forgot that benefited from the saga, then Hanlon is the midfielder you might just recall. He came in on loan from Stevenage before the incident but seized his chance for regular football in the wake of Toner’s departure. Indeed, prior to Toner leaving, Hanlon had been seen just three times from the bench, but the Boston game would be his second of six starts for the club.
Hanlon was a neat, passing midfielder who had made his name at Peterborough. He made his Imps debut just before Christmas of 2004 after joining on loan, with his deal being made permanent just days later. It was a tough Lincoln squad to come into at the time, with Richard Butcher, Peter Gain and Ciaran Toner all battling for a spot in a midfield which was often bypassed.
You’ll see this afternoon what he did for us against Boston, but he struggled to keep the form up and last featured for the Imps in the 3-0 final-day defeat by Yeovil. He was benched for all three play-off games including the 2-0 defeat by his former team Southend. He wasn’t retained in the summer and moved to Cambridge United in the Conference.
Two players who shared a bench with a future Imps legend, who enjoyed playing time in a legendary Imps line-up but are often forgotten by the passing of time. Still, you can certainly see how impressive Hanlon could have been if you tune in this afternoon, but be sure to stay to the end to see Ipoua!