"Andreas picks up his ball and goes home"
What a night! 700 lucky Geordies had thawed out enough from Monday to see whether we could put right against Lincoln City what we had got wrong against the Blades. Steph and Softie got the Metro down to Kingston Park where we rendezvoused with Jonno and Gibbo. There was something unaccountably different about the place since our visit a mere two days before, and it took a few minutes to work out what it was; the unfamiliar prickling of sweat brought on by heat!
Yes, Kingston Park has warmed up! There was no gale blowing. There was no sleet and driving rain. There was no sh*thouse door banging in the wind. It was merely cold (positively balmy by KP standards) and the effect of these improved conditions was immediately apparent on the park.
Still no Stuart Pearce in warm up, so some things will continue regardless, but it was the seriousness with which Lincoln City entered into their preparations that sticks in the mind. They had their coach and trainers on the pitch (no, not the team bus and running shoes, the other ones) and set about it as though it were a Big Occasion, which it was of course. They were dressed up as Celtic and various Geordie urchins took great offence at their keepers long hair.
There was only one notable change in the lineup, and that was that the useless Perez had been replaced by Keen and other than that there were some changes to the substitutes with the disappearance of Robinson and arrival of Muir and Broadbent:
1. Peter Keen
2. Paul Arnison
3. Paul Talbot
4. Paddy Kelly
5. Stuart Pearce
7. David Burt
8. Jamie McClen
6. Ralf Keidel
9. Andreas Andersson (clearly Monday wasnt the ONLY time we would see him wearing the Newcastle No. 9 shirt)
10. Louis Saha
11. Gary Brady
Subs: Tait, Woodcock, Muir, Broadbent
The referee was a Mr Tiffin, who probably gets very tired of Geordie wags shouting out, Howay ref, its not a frigging tea party, man!
There was still plenty of sunshine as the Lads kicked off and the Toon showed the seriousness of their preparations by going behind in the first few minutes. Glances were exchanged and watches glanced at, since Freddie Shepherd and Steve Clarke had barely taken their seats when this calamity struck. However, this was to prove to be almost the last serious involvement Lincoln City would have in the game.
Andersson and Saha were as effective on Wednesday in the still conditions, as they had been poor on Monday in the gale. City also played their part by choosing to make a game of it (the fools!) instead of practicing being Arsenal, which everyone else has done. Talbot and Brady were combining with almost Bartonesque skills down the left with deft flick-ons and step-overs which completely bamboozled Lincoln, and also the Refs Assistant (linesMAN) who appeared to have stolen Stuart Pearces Tiger Balm, judging by the smell.
Pearce himself was a giant at the back, challenging for everything though being found wanting for pace, and gave Paddy Kelly some gentle encouragement when he strayed out of position, Get in line, Knobhead! came the rallying cry, but Knobhead duly did, didnt he? Keen managed to pull off the most amazing save a few minutes after this incident, when a wayward Psycho header had let City through 1 on 1.
Youll notice that nobody dared call him Knobhead?, noted Jonno, dryly.
The superior Toon passing skills and aerial prowess of Andersson (no, not a misprint, no light between head and ball yesterday!) soon began to tell, and Andersson headed home a cross from McClen or Burt (difficult to tell apart from a distance, both short and swarthy). This was followed up by a cracking drive and a near miss to leave us faintly surprised but cheerful at half time.
We went round the side of the stand to visit the bar and found it locked, which was a tad depressing, but as soon as we tramped back round again, the eagle-eyed announcer announced (for it is his job) that the bar was closed, but we could use the Members Bar upstairs. What a dilemma, I wasnt wearing my Armani suit and sovereign rings, but went up anyway, where we got to see a bit of some curtain-raiser from the midlands where two teams were stoically trying to bore each other into submission to avoid facing the Mighty Magpies at Wembley in May.
Back outside, after we had kicked the gold dust off our shoes, coffees and plates of chips were ordered, since they had no slush-puppies and ice-cream to combat the heatwave, and I lightheartedly suggested we stand behind the City goal to watch the avalanche. Well, many a true word is spoken in jest, but within seconds we faced the unenviable task of trying not to spill coffee and chips while Psycho is clearly using your testicles as his aiming marker for a free kick. We were treated to the mesmerizing sight of Andreas getting his tally up to 4 and Saha chipping in with 2 more before being substituted.
It could have been even more emphatic, but we managed to hit the woodwork four times [In the interests of strict accuracy, and to keep Dan off my back, I feel that I should point out that the goal posts are in fact metal, not wooden, as my use of that tired, old cliché may have suggested. However, in the interests of readability, I felt it prudent to say we rattled the woodwork, rather than the more literal case of, we managed to produce a hollow ringing sound by striking the ball against the hollow, tubular, metal construction at the end of the field.] and were guilty of being overly elaborate in our buildup when the more direct approach of wellying the leather at their shaken goalie would have been instantly successful. [Dan, you are quite right, Toon were not playing in damp-retardant, rubber, knee-length footwear, I was speaking figuratively once again].
The sighs of relief from the City players were heartfelt when the ref put paid to the slaughter and the Resorves were declared Champions of Pontins Division 2. Saha had stayed until the end, and risked being goosed by Steph, who had already got him to sign a photo she took of him on Monday, despite his substitution for good play, and I dare say he will be risked against Everton ahead of Big Dunc. All that remained was a trip to the Brunton Arms, where we told those patrons safely sitting down how many goals Andersson had scored, and to start chanting Stam, Stam, Stam, Stam to the tune of Monty Pythons Spam song after he helped Bergkamp score a goal. What remains with me today, however, is the downcast head of young Andersson despite scoring four; methinks he may already be on his way, and this was just his swansong, too little too late.
For more info on the reserves, Visit the Young Magpies Zone