FRED QUIBELL JUNIOR CUP FINAL 2023/2024 MATCH REPORT

FC Lincs 3-0 Plough Lincoln FC

Tonight saw the 4th and last of our League’s domestic Cup Finals for this Season with the Fred Quibell Junior Cup Final being the intriguing final on offer for the LNER spectators in attendance.

This final featured arguably “the team of the Season” in the form of FC Lincs who were meeting fellow League 2 rivals Plough Lincoln FC.

FC Lincs were making the second visit to the “Lincoln Theatre of Dreams” within 6 days after they secured the Jock Mitchell Memorial Trophy in the same surroundings just 6 days earlier. On that occasion they experienced the “Away” team dressing room, this time around they occupied “the Imps” dressing room whilst Plough Lincoln would experience the surroundings faced by Lincoln City’s opponents during the EFL campaign.

FC Lincs came into the match with 2 trophies to their name this time round, having added the Division 2 trophy to their trophy cabinet, along side their Jock Mitchell Memorial Trophy that they won last week.

Plough Lincoln were sure to provide stern opposition as they had had to settle for the runners up spot in Division 2, having finished in second spot, albeit 14 points below the Champions. Plough finished the Season averaging more than 2 points per game and with a plus 40 goal difference an intriguing contest appeared to be on the cards.

FC Lincs came out as victors in the 2 League games between these sides in the League this Season so would it be “3rd time lucky” for Plough Lincoln or would the old saying of “never a second without a third” hold good for the Champions. The answer to that would be known at 9.15pm or 9.45pm if extra-time was to be required.

The teams were led out onto the fabulous pitch on a warm evening. The constant rain throughout the day looked to have zipped the pitch up somewhat, thereby preventing the need for the sprinklers to be needed before kick-off.

Referee Mr Ryan Calvert, supported by Assistant Referees Mr Kieron Salmons, and Mr Karol Kaminski, with Mr J.Wright completing the Match Officials as the 4th Official.

FC Lincs’ Captain Scott Morrison wearing a claret and light blue strip, got the match underway attacking the Stacey West end of the ground.

Bradley Bray registered the first shot of the match inside the first minute when he tried his luck on his left foot but it lacked power and was straight at Plough Keeper Oliver Adams who gained an early feel of the match ball.

It was a cagey affair early doors from both teams as they both felt their way into the game.

Plough put a useful move together on 7 minutes when Elliot Shearwood and Elliot Turner combined well down the Plough attacking left and as the latter crossed into the middle it was dealt with by a trusty boot of a defender who cleared his lines positively, so much so that the ball went through to the opposition goalkeeper!

FC Lincs worked a useful opening down their attacking left on 9 minutes resulting in a free kick in their favour just outside the penalty box. From a very promising position Alex McCalla struck the ball cleanly but sent his shot cleared the bar by some distance.

Hesitancy in the Plough defence nearly cost them in the 13th minute when a group of defenders failed to clear their lines and Bradley Bray nipped in between two of them to volley the ball goalwards from the edge of the box. The ball cleared the joint of crossbar and post by a whisker and was the closest that we had come by far in the opening 15 minutes of the match.

Elliot Turner moved smartly down their attacking left side on 20 minutes before delivering the cross of the match to date, a sumptuous looking floated cross with his left foot but as the ball fell to Shearwood a defender was able to clear the danger for Lincs who immediately broke down their attacking left up the other end. Scott Morrison jinked his way past two challenges before firing wide of the far post with Adams looking grateful to see the ball flash wide of the goal.

With few efforts hitting the target in the opening quarter of the match, Alex Simpson, playing as a centre back for Lincs, ventured forward for a corner taken by Zac Markham but his header cleared the bar with ease and he returned to his day job in the heart of the Lincs defence.

FC Links fashioned a great chance on 33 minutes when Bray cleverly took the ball past 2 defenders before threading the ball through to Scott Morrison. He took aim from 12 yards, but his shot was charged down and the ball was cleared to safety.

Scott Morrison nearly opened the scoring on 37 minutes, this time raiding down his team’s attacking right before drilling the ball just over the bar as he advanced into the box.

FC Lincs had another free kick opportunity on 39 minutes following a handball in the centre of the pitch. Ross Morrison rolled the ball to his right to Bray who couldn’t keep the ball down and his shot joined the list of shots that cleared to Plough’s bar.

A minute later and Plough’s Captain Harry McCarthy ghosted in at the far post to reach a searching cross from the right but his well-placed downward header just evaded everyone before passing over the line at the far post the wrong side of the post as far as Plough were concerned.

Referee Calvert had some business to sort out in the 42nd minute when a clash of players saw a small number of uninvited players getting involved. Referee Calvert was immediately on the spot and yellow cards were shown to Tom Buchanon-Spence of Plough and Bailey Vernon-Higgs of FC Lincs for their involvement in the matter.

Half time arrived with no further alarms for either team so we would start the second half as we did the first with no goals credited to either side.

Half-Time: FC Lincs 0-0 Plough Lincoln.

Plough were the first to attack in the opening exchanges of the second half with Skipper Harry McCarthy firing in a smart shot within a minute of the re-start. This forced an equally smart save from Casey Horgan who was back peddling to touch the shot over and out for a corner.

Plough Lincoln certainly looked to have wrestled the ascendancy of the possession in the match during the first 10 minutes of the second period. Despite their possession neither side was able to register a meaningful strike on their opponent’s goal.

Plough put together a promising run in the 56th minute when Elliot Turner put Elliot Shearwood clean through, but his clean finish was correctly ruled out by the flag of Assistant Referee Mr Salmons, and we would have to wait a little longer to witness the first goal.

The 63rd minute saw Plough Lincoln presented with a very good chance to open the scoring from a free kick. Harry McCarthy neatly exchanged passes with Elliot Turner who was unceremoniously halted in his tracks by the attentions of a Lincs defender. Plough’s Turner placed the ball, just outside the penalty area and straight down the middle, and then, as many had done before him in the game, put the ball high, wide, and handsome without troubling Horgan in the Lincs goal.

Lewis Morrison, on as a substitute for FC Lincs, registered a fierce effort goalwards but he fired across the goal and the ball went the wrong side of the post for FC Lincs.

The game could certainly not be accused of lacking effort and endeavour from either side but with three quarters of the match played it did look as though the lack of creativity in the final third of the pitch could lead to the regulation time needing to be extended beyond the 90-minute allocation.

Perhaps the best chance of the match arrived in the 81st minute when a long raking ball from the right found its way through to FC Lincs forward Scott Morrison at the far post but as he received the ball he was met by the bravery if Oliver Adams in the Plough goal who was out quickly to challenge, just nicking the ball from Morrison as he looked to poke the ball past him/ The keeper came off the worst of the challenge but his team would be grateful to him as his awareness certainly saved a certain goal, despite the pain that he experienced for his efforts.

With the scores still locked at 0-0 on 90 minutes Referee Calvert would add further 90 minutes of added time and this would arguably see some of the best chances of the match, all created by FC Lincs as they turned up the heat in search of a winner.

Firstly a volley of shots were blocked in succession in the same passage of play resulting in a desperate goal line clearance by the Plough defence.

There was drama after 3 minutes of the additional period of added time when Plough’s Johnny Walsh, already on a yellow card, recklessly dived into a challenge that took the player and not the ball and he saw the referee’s red card for what has thankfully been a rarity in recent finals on our League. As Mr Walsh trudged off down to the dressing rooms his team had Max Thomunson to thank for a last gasp clearance header from underneath his own crossbar when Lincs had managed to beat keeper Adams with a goal bound effort.

After 6 minutes of additional time played Mr Calvert sounded te whistle that signalled a further period of 30 minutes extra time would be played to try to separate these two teams without the need for the dreaded penalties. Would either team be able to crack it, we all wited with interest!

Plough Lincoln got the extra time period under way ttacking the South Park end of the ground.

The 100th minute Scott Morrison had a good chance at the far post but his volley at full stretch lacked power and the chance was gone.

Two minutes later and Plough had keeper Adams to thank when he was swiftly off his line to bravely dive at the feet of the on rushing Scott Morrison.

Bailey Vernon-Higgs capitalised in the 103rd minute when he received the ball following good work from Lewis Morrison down the right. Morrison’s cross was not properly dealt with by the Plough defence and when the ball fell at the feet of Vernon-Higgs he had no problem in drilling the ball past a helpless Adams to register the first goal of the game for FC Lincs.

FC Lincs 1-0 Plough Lincoln FC.

A brilliant turn and finish from FC Lincs’ talisman Scott Morrison in the 117th minute put the game to bed as a contest when he challenged and won the ball down the attacking left, He managed to get the better of his defender to put himself clean through on goal. As Adams advanced from his goal towards him, Morrison coolly slotted the ball past Adams to wrap the game up and bag the treble for FC Lincs as they added this trophy to their impressive haul for the Season so far.

 FC Lincs 2-0 Plough Lincoln FC.

With only a couple of minutes remaining in the tie Ben Morley had the last word for FC Lincs with a simple tap in in the last minute of the match after a shot was parried by Adams and the ball fell to him a yard or so out. He couldn’t miss, and didn’t miss as he completed the scoring to record a comprehensive looking scoreline which in truth was much closer than the scoreline suggests.

Final Score: FC Lincs 3-0 Plough Lincoln FC.

The Trophy and mementos were presented by Imps Legends Mr John Kennedy and Mr Gavin Gordon and its always great to see these Gentlemen come down to help and support our Local League Finals. Many thanks to both.

Referee Mr Calvert must be congratulated for a faultless performance with the whistle, applying the laws correctly and dealing sensibly with the challenges presented. Well done to him and his team for their collective performances on the night.

Ian R. Stephenson

Lincoln & District Sunday Football league / League Secretary.

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