My Favourite Five Pre-Season Friendlies

Lincoln City 3-1 Aston Villa 2008


Credit Graham Burrell

The 2008/09 season was one of great hope for the Imps. It was the summer of the Magnificent Seven, players brought in by Peter Jackson that were thought to be capable of changing the course of our history. It sounded like bluster and hot air, until Premier League Aston Villa rolled into town. They had John Carew, Gabby Agbonlahor and Steve Sidwell in their side, plus a host of others, and it was expected City would lose. When Carew gave them the lead, there was a degree of resignation about the result. Sidwell robbed Frank Sinclair, one of those magnificent seven that flopped, found Carew and he bagged. Five minutes gone, City trailed 1-0.

It wasn’t until the second half things got tasty. Within eight minutes of the restart, Stefan Oakes showed what he was capable of, landing a free kick on the powerful head of Janos Kovacs, who levelled. Then we blew Villa away; Lenny John-Lewis headed home our second on 75 minutes, and straight from kick-off Ben Wright got free and made it 3-1. By the time the whistle went, I was convinced we’d win the league.

We didn’t, we finished 13th and went out of both cups in the first round. Villa finished 6th in the Premier League, made the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup and could have done better had they not won just two matches after Valentine’s Day. Still, we won 3-1.