22nd April 2019
Tranmere as good as secured a play off berth but missed their chance to put themselves in real contention for the automatic spots following a battling draw in the summer sunshine, which crowned Lincoln L2 champions in front of a capacity crowd.
With Mansfield losing and MK drawing the boys in white had a great chance to take advantage, but spurned several decent second half chances in a tense game, while Jake Caprice made a vital intervention at the back to prevent a Matt Rhead goal for the home side.
Davies was quick off his line early on to make a terrific save from Rowe, before Banks’ ball over the top put Nors through only for his fierce left-footed effort to be well saved at the near post. With the midfield getting overwhelmed Micky switched out of his 4-4-2 with Mullin and Nors up top into a 4-2-3-1, with Jennings in the hole and Mullin wide left. A short free-kick routine from Lincoln set Andrade in, but he fired straight at Davies’ near post.
Going into the half Micky made 2 changes, taking off the struggling Nelson for young Evan Gumbs and bringing Gilmour into the midfield in place of Mullin. Evan stuck out a leg and made an excellent clearance from a dangerous cross, and later missed a header only to recover superbly to tackle Akinde who might have been in on goal. Sadly Evan succumbed to injury late on and had to be replaced by Bucko, much to his understandable dismay having waited so long to prove himself against the best of L2 strike-forces only to fail to make it through the half.
Harris dragged a shot wide and a tidy dink from Morris put Norwood in only for him to sky it. Matt Rhead thought he had scored only for Jake Caprice to produce the stand out moment of quality from the game with an excellent goalline clearance.
Connor Jennings rounded Gilks in the Lincoln net and tapped home but was flagged well offside, while Rhead got down to his usual histrionics, falling over and calling for handballs during the course of some Lincoln pressure from corners only to be told to get on with it by ref Backhouse.
Norwood was played in twice in quick succession only to miss wide and hit one straight at the keeper, before going on a mazy and again failing to connect well on the shot as Lincoln were caught out on the break repeatedly heading into the final minutes with the SWA roaring the boys on.
The final minutes ended up something of a damp squib as the tension and end to end chances were dissipated by breaks in play, for Evan’s medical attention and some Impish time wasting as Lincoln counted down the seconds until they were confirmed champions of a football league division for the first time.
It was a game between two good sides and two excellent managers that was accurately reflected in a stalemate, with Lincoln having the best of the possession and Tranmere carving out the better chances. Hopefully we will be joining the Cowleys and the men from Sincil Bank back in League One next year, though it now seems almost certain that we will have to get promoted at Wembley once more. It’s the Tranmere way after all.
Tranmere: Davies, Caprice, Monthe, Nelson (Gumbs 45, Buxton 90+2), Bakayogo, Harris, Banks, Morris, Jennings, Mullin (Gilmour 45), Norwood.
Subs not used: Pilling, Smith, Pringle, Dagnall
Lincoln: Gilks, O’Connor (Pett 78), O’’Hara, Rhead (McCartan 82), Andrade (Anderson 67), Toffolo, Bostwick, Rowe, Eardley, Bolger, Akinde
Subs not used: Vickers, Wilson, Roberts
9,658 (920 SWA)
Man of the Match
The Man Mountain showed yet again he can partner anyone and still keep the best forwards at this level in his back pocket.