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Lincoln 2-1 Crewe

30 April 2022

Two late goals from The Imps ruin Crewe final game in League One after Chris Long had fired us into the lead with his 10th of the campaign.

Crewe Alexandra were good value for a point in the final game of the season, but somehow ended up being beaten in the final minute by a low shot from Lincoln City substitute Hakeeb Adelakun.

The finale saw Chris Long fire the Alex into a 21st minute lead from Callum Ainley’s through pass and in truth Alex Morris’ side  had enough chances to have been out of sight before Tom Hopper’s headed equaliser from a corner with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Oli Finney had two fine opportunities to score in the second half and substitute Dan Agyei was denied by Lincoln City’s goalkeeper Jordan Wright just a couple of minutes after replacing Finney. We would rue those missed chances.

And although Lincoln finished the final 15 minutes strongly, Crewe had defended resolutely throughout and when they did get through, they found Dave Richards in inspired form again. He made some fine saves to keep Crewe ahead in those closing stages and he more than anyone on the day, didn’t deserve to see Adelakun’s shot end in his net with a minute left of the campaign.

For his first game in permanent charge of the football club, Alex Morris, made two changes to the starting XI that drew 1-1 last time out with Ipswich Town. Defender Zac Williams was ruled out due to the injury he sustained a week ago and Luke Murphy dropped to the substitutes’ bench once again. Rekeem Harper, who was not permitted to face his parent club returned for the final game of his loan agreement.

Attacking midfielder, Oliver Finney, returned to start at Sincil Bank and Dan Agyei was fit enough to take his place in a strong looking Crewe squad. Scott Kashket missed out.

Michael Appleton’s growing injury list for the home side meant that he was only able to name four substitutes for the final game of the 2021/22 season.

The sun was beaming, the pitch was immaculate and the atmosphere was vibrant at the LNER Stadium for this 12.30pm kick off.

Lincoln were presented with the first half chance of the game after a loose pass out of defence by Crewe captain Luke Offord. The turnaround allowed Morgan Whittaker to slip in the movement of John Marquis but he couldn’t make a firm enough connection and it ran through to Dave Richards.

The Alex soon created their first opening a couple of minutes later, or Chris Long did. The Alex number 7 did superbly to trick his way across the Lincoln by-line and his low shot was saved by the feet of Jordan Wright. Crewe had a corner - but it could possibly have been more if Long had elected to pick out a team-mate in close proximity than go for goal himself.

Lincoln were soon gifted two free-kicks in decent positions. Lewis Fiorini forced Richards into a smart save with one and his other cleared his right hand post by at least a yard.

It was a fairly open affair and after a probing run from the centre of the pitch from Ainley, he fed full-back Ryan Alebiosu. The on-loan Arsenal youngster cut inside before confidently taking the shot on. Wright made it appear more uncomfortable than it should have been. Then a well worked short corner involving Lowery and Harper allowed Lowery to clip a cross to the far post, but Regan Poole did fantastically well to clear with his head before it reached Billy Sass-Davies.  

Mandron’s first real sight at goal came after a quick transition in midfield performed by Harper. The Frenchman received the ball some 25 yards from the Lincoln goal but after dropping his shoulder to create some space, he dragged his shot wide.

Crewe were retaining possession well but Lincoln were a threat when slipping in behind our four. Crewe had Richards to thank and not for the first time in recent games, for bravely saving from both Fiorini and then Marquis in a short space of time.

When Long was given a similar opportunity at the other end of the pitch, he took full advantage on 21 minutes. Crewe were patient in the build up again and after Ainley had moved into enough space to create, he clipped an inch perfect ball through to the moving Long and he dispatched it into the opposite corner of the net for his  10th goal of the season. It was another clinical finish from the club’s Player-of-the Year.

The pair nearly combined again moments later. On this occasion, the hard working Long made a nuisance of himself to recapture possession for his team and after drifting off the touchline, his low pass so nearly found Ainley on the run in the Lincoln penalty area. He just quite couldn’t stretch enough to reach it to divert it goalwards.

It was really good stuff from a rejuvenated Alex. Our passing and movement was impressively stretching Lincoln all over the pitch and you could sense the frustration on the terraces from the home support.

Lincoln were forced into the first change of the afternoon with Anthony Scullen forced off with an injury, to be replaced by Max Sanders, who soon dragged as shot wide.

Crewe deservedly went into the break in the lead thanks to Chris Long’s finish just after the 20th minute mark.

Crewe lost the impressive Ryan Alebiosu through injury early on in the second half. The on-loan youngster had to be replaced by Josh Lundstram, who slipped back into the right-back role.

Chasing an equaliser, Lincoln began to have more of the ball but much of it was in their own half of the pitch and Crewe were compact and often got up the pitch too.

Another excellent corner routine saw it lined up for Lowery to strike and his effort was 25 yards was pushed onto the post by Wright and we just couldn’t find a decisive touch in front of goal on the rebound. Moments later, Wright made a better fist of it to save low down from Mandron, who had turned sharply to get his shot off.

Appleton had seen enough and Lasse Sorensen soon came off for Tom Hopper. That change promptly saw a chance for the Imps but again Richards stood up well to save again from Marquis.

A swift counter attack from the Railwaymen should have resulted in a second goal. After Ainley had forced a transition in our third, Harper hit a terrific cross field ball into space for Long to race into. The forward kept it in and raced into the Lincoln box at pace. He was soon joined by Mandron and Finney with Long electing for the midfield but from a good position, he fired wastefully over.

Finney also couldn’t direct his far post shot on target after great build up play again from Long and Mandron. After missing two good chances, he was soon replaced by Agyei. He nearly scored with his very first touch after being played in by Mandron but also credit Wright, who rushed out to half smother it and Mandron couldn’t quite dig out a cross to keep the move alive.

At the other end, Whittaker drifted in again, but we couldn’t convert after Richards had raced out once again to oppose him. His shot went right across the box and Sass-Davies was able to clear.

It was certainly Crewe who looked the team most likely to score again but we had to keep that backdoor firmly closed as we entered the final 15 minutes of the game and season and we fell short.

With Long down needing treatment, Lincoln’s Marquis got across the far post but again he would be denied by Richards. It was arguably his best save of the game. The save resulted in a corner and in most bizarre circumstances, Lincoln would equalise.

After receiving treatment after colliding with the advertising hoarding, Long was off the field of play for the corner and he was soon joined by Tariq Uwakwe, who had also collected a knock. With those two looking on from the sidelines, Lincoln delivered the corner and substitute Hopper rose highest to head home with just over 10 minutes of the game left. It was so frustrating for the Alex becaue with 11 men we had defended so well.

With the game entering the final minutes, Harper was replaced by Murphy and Hakeeb Adelakun came on for TJ Eyoma.

A chance for Lincoln saw Whittaker cross into the six yard box but the recovering Uwakwe did superbly to whack it away. It was no wonder he got a pat on the back from his appreciative goalkeeper.

The Imps had defended their box well in the closing stages and looked to have finished with a point until substitute Adelakun drilled a well struck shot from the edge of the box and into the Crewe net for 2-1. It was immensely harsh on Crewe.

There was little time for Crewe to come again but a late, late chance in stoppage time saw Agyei fire over after another powerful run off the wing.

A good performance from the Alex somehow ended in defeat and if lessons are to be learnt going forward, it has to be becoming more clinical when on top in matches because those missed opportunities certainly came back to haunt us this afternoon.


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