Date: 12th August 2017 at 5:15pm
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A bumper crowd was expected at Sincil Bank today to witness Lincoln City`s first game in the Football League for over six years. The club celebrated this pivotal date in its own history by arranging for a fly-past by a Lancaster Bomber before the match; unaware in all probability of the close connection between the county town of Lancashire and today`s visitors. Whatever optimism may be found in the newly-promoted club, Lincoln`s unwanted place in history is that they will forever be the first club to be automatically relegated from the Football League when promotion of the best of England`s non-league clubs became a reality all of thirty years ago. Although they only spent one season in the old Conference then, their recent exile has lasted a lot longer. In recent times of course, brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley – Manager and Assistant respectively – have rightly won plaudits not only for their championship performance in the National League last season but also for their extended FA Cup run, which included a win at Premiership Burnley. In their first EFL game of their season, the Imps went ahead at Wycombe Wanderers last Saturday only to go behind but battle back to emerge with a 2-2 draw. In midweek, they were knocked out of the League Cup by newly-relegated League One Rotherham United by two goals to one. So today, City were looking for their first win of the new term.

In contrast, Morecambe`s form so far has been a matter of important injury times. Last Saturday, returning hero Garry Thompson scored a brace, the second in added-on time at the end of the match against Cheltenham, to secure all three points against a team which had taken the lead in the first half. On Tuesday, the Shrimps were unlucky to lose in the fourth minute of five added on at Barnsley, where Jim Bentley`s team had gamely battled back from two goals down on two occasions to draw 3-3 with the Championship outfit.

The game today started in a febrile atmosphere as the massed ranks of Lincoln supporters urged their side on and their players duly obliged. The Shrimps were under the cosh for the first part of the game and Barry Roche pulled off another world-class saved to add to his already vast portfolio high to his left to palm a ferocious strike from Jordan Maguire-Drew onto the bar after 16 minutes. With 31 minutes on the clock, he had to react quickly again, coming off his line to block an effort from Matt Green in a one-on-one situation. Just two minutes later, the huge Dubliner again denied the Imps when he managed to get a hand to Nathan Arnold`s effort and turn it round the post after good work by Green and the ever-combative Matt Rhead. Having said all that, though, City didn`t have things all their own way. Morecambe Captain Michael Rose produced one of his trade mark long throws after half an hour; Vadaine Oliver produced a fine bicycle kick and Thommo`s powerful volley was blocked on the line by Sean Raggett only for Aaron Wildig to head the loose ball narrowly over the bar. Just five minutes before the break, Aaron McGowan tried his luck from all of 40 yards and rattled the Imps` crossbar with Paul Farman powerless to do anything about it.

It carried on much the same way during the second half. From an attack by the home side, Thommo led the counter-charge up the field after 53 minutes and played Wildig in with a fine pass – the resulting shot was well stopped by Farman. Just a minute later though, Patrick Brough made an excellent run up the Morecambe right flank and found Wildig with an accurate cross which the Shrimps` number fifteen walloped past the City goalkeeper to put the visitors nil-one up: it was a phenomenal strike.

After this, the Imps threw the kitchen sink at the visitors and Roche again did well to keep them out when he denied the always troublesome Rhead with an hour played after the big forward had brought the ball down brilliantly, spun and unleashed a dangerous shot. Within a minute, a header from Raggett was cleared off the line as the visitors increasingly were fighting a rearguard action. Matt Green turned young Sam Lavelle having been played-in by Arnold on the edge of the box after 70 minutes and the home team finally scored their first home goal in the EFL for nearly seven years to the absolute delight of the eight-thousand plus crowd who were urging them on. With seventy-four minutes on the clock, Roche produced another miracle when he denied first Rhead and then Arnold on the rebound with sharp saves. As Steven Old made his debut for the Shrimps to shore-up their defence for the last quarter of an hour or so, Lincoln continued to batter against it. But the visitors still pushed forward whenever they could and Farman saved Thommo`s header well after 78 minutes and kept out Brough`s long range shot after 81 minutes as well.

Given what has happened in injury time in the previous two games of the season, Morecambe`s nerves must have been jangling throughout the five minutes which referee Gavin Ward added on at the end of the match. On this occasion, however, the Shrimps held firm and the game ended – probably fairly – one goal each. Morecambe thus didn`t rain on Lincoln`s parade but they certainly deserve tremendous praise for their continual attempts to take the game to City and their never-say-die attitude against a team which severely tested their defensive qualities. It has to be noted too, that despite the full-blooded action throughout the contest, the Referee kept his cards in his pockets for the entire 95 minutes. The draw means that the Imps slip to 19th place in League Two; Morecambe remain unbeaten in the play-off positions at fifth in the table.

Lincoln City: 1 Paul Farman; 2 Sean Long; 9 Matt Rhead (8 Ollie Palmer 83 mins); 10 Matt Green; 14 Jordan Maguire-Drew (26 Harry Anderson 83 mins); 15 Rob Dickie; 16 Michael Bostwick; 23 Neal Eardley; 25 Sean Raggett; 28 Nathan Arnold; 30 Alex Woodyard (C).

Subs not used: 21 Josh Vickers; 4 Elliot Whitehouse; 5 Luke Waterfall; 6 Callum Howe; 11 Billy Knott.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 2 Aaron McGowan; 3 Patrick Brough; 4 Alex Kenyon; 6 Dean Winnard; 7 Garry Thompson; 9 Vadaine Oliver (5 Steven Old 77 mins); 15 Aaron Wildig (8 Andy Fleming 84 mins); 16 Sam Lavelle; 24 Michael Rose (C); 11 Kevin Ellison (18 Rhys Turner 73 mins).

Subs not used: 12 Danijel Nizic; 10 Adam Campbell; 14 Luke Conlan.

Ref: Gavin Ward
Bomber flypast: