Rovers Foiled By Lucky Imps
January 30, 2006
The City of Lincoln succumbed to the ‘Gas’ the Friday before the match when my wife Diane and I plus our two youngest children Matt and Brad, made the journey up and stayed overnight in the Premier Travel Inn close to Sincil Park.
With three wins in three matches, the year had got off to a perfect start for Rovers and we fancied our chances today. Having delighted at seeing Rushden and Cheltenham succumb in the latter stages and a comfortable home win against Chester last week, we had every right to be feeling confident about our chances of adding to our points tally against the Red Imps.
After booking in to our hotel the night before, we made our way to Lincoln City Football club to purchase our tickets for the match amid much friendly banter between ourselves and the ticket office staff who were somewhat shocked to see the famous Bristol Rovers Blue and White quarters walk into their office so boldly and so early. We did however assure them that our victory over them the next day would be painless, as they wouldn’t see it coming. (In retrospect – not a smart move!) The threat of them charging us £45-00 per ticket left us undeterred as we said it would be a pleasure for the defeat that they would suffer before the mighty Bristol Rovers resurgent team, as they had clearly not heard that Paul Trollope and Lennie Lawrence had been elevated to godly status and nothing could stand before them or our beloved Bristol Rovers football team!
[image2] As we did a bit of shopping around the city centre just before the shops closed, sporting our Gas Shirts, we knew that it wasn’t just our good looks and fashion sense that were drawing the not so infrequent look of (friendly) disapproval and similarly our evening meal in a local restaurant attracted a few cautious looks with one of the bar staff hoping that we would win!!!!
A bit more shopping the morning of the game saw greater comment and some songs aimed at us about how we would lose to a chorus from our youngest son; Bradley of: “You wat, you wat, you wat, you wat you wat?”
Our resolve held firm as we made our way to Sincil Bank where I must say that the hospitality and friendliness of the Lincoln supporters was fabulous and they invited us into their bar for a quick drink (orange juice as I genuinely do not drink alcohol) and then I’m dammed if they didn’t get me for a few raffle tickets!
[image3] Well, the result as we all know didn’t go our way and for those Gasheads who went to the match, they will all have their own reasons and logic as to why we lost.
As Rovers warmed up, we took our seats nice and early and took the opportunity to take a few photographs. As usual, the players went through a rigorous routine, led by Paul Trollope. They looked confident and there were plenty of smiles, which in turn filled us with confidence for our chances.
Once the match got under way, Rovers soon settled into their game and started to put good possession together, looking threatening going forward. Sadly, everything seemed to be cut out in the final third, with Rovers limited to speculative shots from outside the penalty area in the main. Lewis Haldane went close with a header that just cleared the cross bar. Stuart Campbell soon tried another effort from outside the box, which fizzed over the bar, and then after a good run and pass inside from Haldane, Richard Walker saw his shot from inside the area blocked. Rovers had a few further efforts in the first half, but they were limited to long-range half chances.
[image4] The second half began with Rovers continuing to pressurise the home side and soon efforts from Agogo and Igoe both went close. As Lincoln edged their way into the game, Red Imps favourite Francis Green wasted a chance in front of goal when it seemed easier to score. This was a warning for Rovers.
Lincoln continued to play in a style predicted by many Gasheads prior to the match. That was to play a lot of long ball and pack their defence with height. It was a tactic that served them well, as despite Rovers winning corner after corner, almost every ball that went into the home side’s penalty box was won by their defence and cleared away.
With just 18 minutes of normal play remaining, Gary Birch came on as substitute and within a minute of entering the field of play had got himself onto the score sheet after Shearer had parried well from a difficult save. You could see everybody’s shoulders drop, as it was a game dominated by the Pirates and despite a concerted effort in the dying minutes, there was to be no last gasp escape this time and the long trip home along with the dissection of the afternoon’s events beckoned.
As for me, I will see you all there at the memorial stadium Tuesday night against Leyton Orient.