A youthful-looking Imps side has been in action this afternoon in a behind closed doors friendly with Championship side Nottingham Forest.
Jez George spoke earlier this week of his pride at seeing so many of our young players in the squad for the Reading game, and the same can be said of this afternoon’s fixture. This is early pre-season, as much about the fitness as anything, so little can be gleaned from the game, but there is a clear need for a handful of senior professionals within this young Lincoln City side.
Four of the starting XI were academy players; Sam Long in goal, Hayden Cann in defence, Billy Brooks in midfield and Jovon Makama up top. The rest of the side had a senior feel to it, with Adam Jackson, Max Melbourne, Tayo Edun, Liam Briductt, James Jones, Chris Maguire and Tom Hopper completing the XI.
City had a decent chance early in the first half, with Makama seeing an effort saved on 12 minutes. Six minutes later, Irish international Harry Arter saw a free-kick tipped over the bar by Sam Long, making his second pre-season start for the Imps. Long was in action again on the half-hour mark, saving from Will Swan before Adam Jackson hacked the follow-up effort clear.
City made changes in the second half, with Montsma, Bramall, Sanders, McGrandles, Boffah, Longdon and Freddie Draper all coming on. Jackson, Edun, Bridcutt, Jones, Makama, Maguire and Hopper made way.
Shortly after Boffah came off for Mekhi Angol, City took the lead. it will delight Imps fans to hear it was Freddie Draper with the goal, a striker many hope to see in and around the first-team picture this season. He seized on a mistake at the back to fire into the top corner of the net.
Forest did end up securing the win, Josh Barnes levelling three minutes after Draper’s goal before a last-gasp Dale Taylor strike gave them the win. Those goals came either side of another chance for Draper, created by scholar Billy Brooks.
Across the ninety minutes, City fielded four academy graduates and five scholars all hunting professional contracts. That is great news for youth development, but also underlines the need for new bodies ahead of the opening game of the season in four weeks time.