Youth Academy Pro4Ninety Match A Big Success

Last Saturday saw Sincil Bank host the Youth Academy Pro4Ninety match.

The latest initiative under the Youth Academy's Future Imps Fund umbrella saw 26 supporters playing in two Lincoln City squads and tasting life as professional footballers. 

Former Imp Mark Hone and City skipper Alan Power were in charge of the Home team with two heroes of Graham Taylor's 1975/76 record breaking side - John Ward and Dennis Booth - managing the Away side.

Both teams featured former City players alongside the fans who had purchased their places. In the Home squad were Simon Yeo and Dean Walling and in the Away were Darren Huckerby, Lee Beevers and Warren Ward.

After PA legend Alan Long had read out the line-ups out former Premier League referee Uriah Rennie got the game underway in blustery conditions and it was the Home side which opened the scoring in the 7th minute when a left wing cross-shot from Yeo sailed over the head of away keeper Tom Robinson and in at the far post.

The Away team were not disheartened and with Huckerby raiding with his renowned pace two goals in 40 seconds from forward Callum Clay put them ahead. Only minutes later Clay completed his hat-trick slamming home a Beevers cross.

Ward extended the Away's lead before Yeo rolled-back the years with a trademark long-range shot. At half-time the game was still there for the taking with the Away side 4-2 ahead.

Both management teams had plenty of work to do at half-time with Home manager Mark Hone advising his players how to nullify the dangerous Huckerby and asking his Head Coach Power whether he had brought his boots.

In the Away dressing room it was a case of more of-the-same with Booth telling his players that their impressive first half display could earn some of them Lincoln City contracts!

Early in the second half Yeo went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Away keeper Robinson and referee Rennie pointed to the spot. A dead-leg for the Home striker ended his participation and the news got worse for the Home side as Nigel Rider's penalty was well saved by Robinson. What a turning-point it turned out to be!

Plans to keep Huckerby quiet didn't last long with the ex-Imp netting from Ward's lay-off before Clay's fourth extended the Away side's lead.

With Player Coach Power now on the field the Home side sought a way back into the match. Rider failed to finish Stevie Hazleden's loft into the box and Beevers cleared an Ashley Goddard header off the line. However, the Away side were soon out of sight as Clay bagged his fifth of the game and second half substitute James Hemsley scored a quick-fire hat-trick.

The commentary team of John Vickers, Chris Ashton and Long were loving every minute of it and their banter became increasingly animated as the score line mounted.

Luke Newsham, lining up in opposition to his uncle Simon Yeo, showed goals run in the family with a couple of goals from Beevers and Huckerby assists, taking the score to an remarkable 12-2 as the 90 minute mark approached.

In an entertaining moment home keeper David Franks decided he could show his teammates how to do it and dribbled out of his area and around several of the Away team before Huckerby robbed him and sent the ball towards goal. Home centre back Ryan Calvert raced back to clear the ball away.

Robinson then saved well from Home forward Matt Henson before, in the dying second of the match, Rider made amends for his penalty miss when he robbed Gerald Lawlor and rounded keeper Robinson to score a consolation goal for the Home side. This incident was to cause a furious Dennis Booth to lambast his players in the dressing room post-match, claiming the defensive switch-off could cost him his job!

The Away team had the last word with Huckerby scoring his second of the game in injury time to complete a comprehensive 13-3 win for the Away side.

The two dressing rooms were contrasting places after the final whistle with the Away's in jubilant mood and hat-trick heroes Clay and Hemsley getting match balls signed. In the Home camp assistant manager Steve O'Dare lambasted his players for their second half showing; amazingly saving the worst of his wrath for City skipper Power!

As the players, management and their families enjoyed post-match food and a well-earned drink in the VIP Lounge Youth Academy director Roger Bates reflected on the day. “For a first attempt at our most ambitious fundraiser so far I am delighted that it went so well and that everyone involved has clearly had a great day tasting life as a professional footballer. I am very grateful to all the Lincoln City legends that supported the event and helped make it so enjoyable and also to the host of volunteers who gave up their time to ensure the day was a success.”

The players confirmed what a great day it had been. Mick Reames said, “It’s been a great day. My family travelled from all over the country and enjoyed it totally. I can't wait until next year” and Tom Robinson added, “I’ve had a great time and an amazing day: so have my friends and family. I hope the event is on again next year.”

Lincoln City Home: David Franks, Nigel Rider, Matt Henson, Ryan Calvert, Dean Walling, Wayne Roome, Peter Ellison, Mick Reames, Simon Yeo, Ashley Goddard, Wayne Holmes, Stevie Hazelden, Andy Thompson and Callum Smith.

Lincoln City Away: Tom Robinson, Jacob Ladley, Tom Thacker, James O'Callaghan, Lee Beevers, James Hemsley, Rob Allsopp, Warren Ward, Luke Newsham, Callum Clay, Darren Huckerby, Gerald Lawlor, Neill Shelly and Derek Priestley.

Attendance: 250