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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

IMPudent Guinan bags Hatrick as Bulls Stun Lincoln

Lincoln defender Paul Mayo's pre-match claim that an attack minded Hereford United would play into their hands certainly backfired in a big way on Tuesday evening as United produced a scintillating display of free flowing one touch football that at times left the Imps and their supporters gasping for breath. In fact one home supporter was overheard to say after the game that he had never seen football like it in League 2.

It was as usual a game of two halves but on this occasion they both belonged to the rampaging Bulls. Hereford, all too often slow out of the blocks, opened their account as early as the second minute when a cross from the left found Alan Connell lurking 12 yards from goal. His neat turn provided an opportunity and he coolly fired into the right corner of the net beyond the reach of home keeper Alan Marriott. It was clear from early on that the game was going to provide splendid entertainment for the crowd and, indeed, Lincoln's on-loan striker Spencer Weir-Daley tested Wayne Brown with a shot from 15 yards in the eighth minute but Brown was well placed to collect. Around the quarter hour mark, both Connell and Andy Williams saw good efforts narrowly miss the target and as the half entered the final 15 minutes Weir-Daley found himself clear on goal but the excellent Brown was quickly out to smother the shot. The Bulls found the net again in the 35th minute when a Danny Thomas cross was met by a thumping header from Ben Smith. Unfortunately, the "goal" was disallowed for a holding infringement. However, just a minute later United got their just reward. The advancing Trent McClenahan drilled an inch perfect cross to the feet of Guinan who hammered in from 6 yards to give the Bulls a well-deserved two-goal half time lead.

The second half produced another early goal for the visitors. This time, the half was just sixteen seconds old and the mid-match coffee not even drunk when the ball fell to Guinan 12 yards from the target and in a style reminiscent of a few years ago Stevie G planted the ball firmly passed a well-beaten Marriott. Just eight minutes later the hatrick was completed. Andy Williams scorched down the right flank, dropped a shoulder and then cut in to the box to fire in a shot, which Marriott was only able to deflect upwards. As the defence pushed up, Guinan coolly headed the ball high over everyone and into the top left corner of the net. Mass celebrations erupted in the visiting fans section as Guinan raced to the touchline to take a theatrical bow. The fans were, as you would expect, in full voice; immediately enquiring - Turner, Turner, what's the score? The Imps did get a goal back shortly afterwards when Weir-Daley forced home a Nat Brown flick-on but there was no doubt that Hereford were full value for their 4-1 lead.

In general, it was an excellent spectacle for the fans with good quality, fast, passing football from both teams spoilt only by a shocking late tackle on Dean Beckwith by Lincoln substitute Leon Metton whose eight-minute contribution was terminated by a straight red from referee Mr Salisbury. The team performance from the Bulls squad was superb from back to front. Wayne Brown was on top form and the defence was well marshalled by the outstanding Beckwith with Rose rarely putting a foot wrong. Rob Purdie and McClenahan (best game so far) completed a first class defensive 90 minutes while the graft and no small amount of skill from Jennings and Smith gave little scope to the Lincoln midfield. Wide players Thomas and Williams continually tormented the home back division and Connell's non-stop chasing was rewarded with a well earned rest for the final fifteen minutes when he left to be replaced by Tim Sills. Steve Guinan is truly looking back to his best with three goals and a display of his full repertoire of flicks and defence opening passes.

FT Lincoln City 1 Hereford United 4
MOM Dean Beckwith
Attendance 4695 (Away 151 but sounded like at least 300!)