Northwich Victoria 3 Lincoln United 3

Sunday 28th October 2012
Northwich Victoria 3 Lincoln United 3
Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division One South
At: Marston Road, Stafford
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £7; Programme: £2 (28 pages)
Weather: cold and dry after pre-match rain
Attendance: 87
Duration: first-half: 46:00; second-half: 51:03

Though told I saw some action at both Doncaster’s Belle Vue and Barnsley’s Oakwell grounds at a very young age, I’ve always considered Marston Road in Stafford as ‘ground number one’. Not long after moving from Yorkshire to Staffordshire, I watched Stafford Rangers defeat Sutton Town in an FA Cup Third Qualifying Round on Saturday 23rd October 1971 (2-0 with both goals scored by Ray Williams before a crowd of 2,816). Some 41 years and 600+ visits later, groundsharers Northwich Victoria hosted Lincoln United salvaged a point in a 3-3 draw from the penalty spot with virtually the last kick of an entertaining contest.

Being back at Marston Road for the first time since July last year, I paused at the side of the stand to look at the engraved bricks - and particularly remember those people I knew.

Following yesterday’s games, Northwich (18 points from 11 games) dropped out of the play-off zone from fifth to sixth position in the Division One South table. They’d won their last two games at Marston Road defeating Rainworth Miners Welfare and Romulus.

Visitors Lincoln United (11 points from 13 games) remained in 20th position with just Kidsgrove Athletic and bottom side Hucknall Town below them. In their last match on Tuesday, Lincoln hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with a fine 2-1 home victory over leaders Coalville Town.

Line-ups were announced over the tannoy and, with the rain all but stopped, Northwich (in green and white hoops) got the game underway attacking the Shed/Town End in the first half.

For the first seven minutes, the ball was rarely in either penalty area but that all changed when Jordan Hempenstall sent a 20-yard left-foot shot flashing past the Northwich goal. In the next attack, Ben Garrick broke down the right and crossed to the far post where unmarked Hempenstall headed Lincoln into the lead.

I watched the game from the stand in the company of Peter Baker and Lincoln could have scored again on the quarter hour. Garrick beat Travis Gray on a run down the right and crossed into the area where Northwich goalkeeper Ryan Robinson did well to keep out a close-range shot from George Zuerner.

After the early midfield battle, chances were now being created more frequently and John Hardiker saw a header cleared off the line from a left-wing corner delivered by Conor Roberts.

With floodlights now on and interval approaching, Northwich’s Joe Guest forced a diving save out of Phil McGann. But the Lincoln goalkeeper failed to make contact with the resulting right-wing corner delivered by Roberts and Hardiker headed home the equaliser.

Just before the break, Joe Guest headed against the Lincoln bar when unmarked from just a few yards out.

McGann produced a couple of saves early in the second half to keep out shots from Chris McDonagh and the lively Chris Luby. It was no surprise when Vics went ahead in the 57th minute. Paul Mooney fed Roberts who confidently fired low into the bottom right corner of the net.

However, Lincoln were back on level terms five minutes later. Gray brought down Hempenstall inside the area and Scott Coupland sent Robinson the wrong way with the resulting penalty.

The visitors stunned Northwich by regaining the lead in the 71st minute. Hempenstall intercepted a weak backpass, draw Robinson off his line and slotted into an empty net. Robinson kept Vics in contention with a save to keep out a close-range shot from David Coyde.

Northwich threw on player-coach Adriano Rigoglioso, the much-travelled former Morecambe and Forest Green Rovers striker, and he sent a fierce drive inches over the bar.

I think the Northwich bench were surprised that only three minutes of added time was indicated, though this was extended by treatment for the injured David Hone. Once the midfielder had headed for the touchline, Gray delivered a long throw into the packed Lincoln area where Liam Bull clearly pushed McDonagh and Mr Strain pointed to the spot. Guest stepped up to hammered up the penalty to make the score 3-3.

Play continued for no more than four seconds before the referee blew the full-time whistle. Northwich had extended their current unbeaten home record to eight games while Lincoln can count themselves unlucky not to record back-to-back wins against teams much higher up the table. The point took them out of the bottom three, swapping places with Leek Town.

Northwich Victoria (green and white hoops / white / white): 1. Ryan Robinson, 2. Travis Gray, 3. Joe Guest, 4. Callum Henry, 5. John Hardiker (capt), 6. Christian Peach, 7. Chris McDonagh, 8. Paul Mooney, 9. Chris Luby, 10. Conor Roberts, 11. Michael Connor. Subs: 12. Adriano Rigoglioso (for Mooney 78), 14. David Nolan (not used), 15. Alan Wright (not used), 17gk. Gary Spotswood (not used).

Lincoln United (red/red/red): 1. Phil McGann, 2. Terry Fleming, 3. David Coyde, 4. George Zuerner, 5. Stuart Reddington (capt), 6. Sean Wright, 7. David Hone, 8. Liam Bull, 9. Ben Garrick, 10. Jordan Hempenstall, 11. Scott Coupland. Subs: 12. Ben Clucas (not used), 14. Tom Cowan (for Zuerner, 83), 15. Brendan McDaid (for Garrick, 70), 16. Liam Sharpe (not used).

Referee: D. Strain.
Assistants: C. Behn and D. Rogers.

0-1 Jordan Hempenstall (8)
1-1 John Hardiker (40)
2-1 Conor Roberts (57)
2-2 Scott Coupland (62 pen)
2-3 Jordan Hempenstall (71)
3-3 Joe Guest (90+6 pen)

Northwich: none
Lincoln: Terry Fleming (YC, 51), Scott Coupland (YC, 53), George Zuerner (YC, 78), Liam Bull (YC, 90+6)