With me currently being away in Norfolk, I’ve handed match report duties over to able-assistant Kyle Kennealey for this morning. Enjoy.
It was in bizarre circumstances (with no fans), but Lincoln progress to the second round of the Carabao Cup following a hard-fought win over Crewe in the opening game of the 2020/21 campaign.
Firstly, thanks to Gary for allowing me to write this piece, it has been some time since I have written a match report so it was nice to finally have that matchday feel as well.
The Imps travelled to Cheshire having beaten Alexandra in three of the four meetings between the sides in this competition over the years. It was a new look Imps side with Michael Appleton making the most of his first summer transfer window to make wholesale changes to his Imps squad. Notable arrivals into the first team included Alex Palmer who arrives on-loan from WBA after a spell with Plymouth, Dutch centre-half Lewis Montsma, Connor McGrandles and James Jones form a midfield three along with Tayo Edun. Sean Roughan, having come through The Imps academy, also comes in at centre-half for a young-looking City side to begin their season.
It was Crewe who began the better with Pickering having the first effort of sorts when he hit one from distance. The host’s right-hand side was to provide much of the play during the game as the ball was pulled back to Kirk but he skewed his effort wide of the target. Dale began causing problems and began looking to exploit some gaps that were appearing down The Imps right. Kirk too looked a real livewire in the host’s midfield and he was put through by Finney down the left but Timothy Eyoma, back on another loan from Tottenham, made a superb recovery as Kirk was preparing to pull the trigger. The Railwaymen came forward again with a cross-field ball by Murphy to Dale, who found the latter in plenty of space. He had a lot to do if he was going to create an opening and instead he opted to fire a cross-cum-shot over the bar.
Crewe had very much been on top during the opening exchanges but The Imps finally forayed forward with purpose. Hopper was released down The Imps left to fire the ball across goal and towards Scully, but Lancashire made a vital interception to deny City’s number 11 a chance to get his shot off. Crewe continued to have the upper hand and were playing some really nice stuff when an opportunity arrived from one of those intricate plays as Perry Ng found time and space to fire goalwards, but it never really looked like troubling Palmer. As I mentioned previously, Crewe were enjoying their play down the right and it was from that side where they created their best opening of the game so far. Dale was involved once again playing a neat one-two before crossing towards the near post, where Mandron arrived unmarked but fired his header wide when he really should’ve found the target at the very least.
City began to get a foothold in the game after the half-hour, forcing a few corners which came to little. Then Scully hit one from outside the area only for the deflection on the shot to take the ball into the path of Grant. But with little time to turn his body he improvised to flick the ball goalwards and it took a quick reaction from Richards to avoid conceding the opening goal. Pickering then found space down the right and made the most of it to pull the ball back towards Finney but the latter could only agonizingly watch as his shot went past the wrong side of the post.
James Jones had been enjoying a good return to The Alexandra Stadium against his former club and almost had an assist if Lancashire had not put the ball behind with Hopper lurking. It was City who ended the half the strongest as Tayo Edun set Scully free down the right, but his attempt at a cross had little power and that rounded off the opening 45 minutes in which both sides had played fairly well, especially as it was the first competitive game for the clubs in six months.