Fri 12
The Tigers
Lincoln Red Imps


By Melvyn Utley
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After drawing 2-2 with Leyton Orient three days earlier, the Tigers grabbed their first win of pre-season with goals from Robbie McKenzie and a trialist cancelling out Kike Gomez’s opener for the reigning Gibraltar Premier Division champions.

First Half XI: Long, McKenzie, Fleming, Burke, de Wijs, Batty, Chadwick, Henriksen, Salam, Bowen, Lewis-Potter.

After an uneventful opening first five minutes, it was the Tigers who looked to carve out the first real opening of the game. Reece Burke and Jarrod Bowen combined to find Markus Henriksen down the right, but the skipper’s low centre was put behind for a corner, which came to nothing.

A free-kick on the left following a foul on Brandon Fleming gave Grant McCann’s side the opportunity to deliver a telling ball into the box. Dan Batty did just with a fine cross, which the Lincoln defence just managed to divert behind with both Jordy de Wijs and Reece Burke looking to pounce.

Despite being on the back foot, it was the Red Imps who opened the scoring against the run of play after just ten minutes. A quick counter-attack caught the Tigers out, allowing Kike Gomez to jinx his way past Robbie McKenzie inside the box and fire past George Long.

Gomez should have added his second of the evening eight minutes later when afforded a free header inside the box. However, the striker was wasteful in front of goal and glanced his effort well wide of the target.

And they were made to pay for the miss as the Tigers levelled the scores a minute later. Keane Lewis-Potter beat the offside trap to collect a precise ball over the top and found Henriksen, who played a perfectly-weighted pass to McKenzie bombing into the box and the full-back found the bottom corner with a composed finish.

Lincoln responded well to the disappointment though and almost created an opening for themselves to retake the lead on 27 minutes. Another swift attack caught the Tigers napping, but Burke – who found himself outnumbered at the back – showed good composure to make a vital block and bring an end to the danger.

Great play from Bowen at the other end of the pitch saw the marauding winger work his way into the Lincoln box before seeing his effort from a tight angle deflected behind. Although the resulting corner was initially dealt with, Bowen’s follow-up cross was met by the head of Burke, who forced a good save from Lolo Soler.

A defensive mix-up gifted Lincoln a great chance to retake the lead inside the final ten minutes of the first half but, with George Long out of position, Jamie Coombes could only send his curling effort from 20 yards wide of the target.

It was the Tigers who finished the half stronger, with Dan Batty coming close to finding the back of the net with a fine strike from distance, firing narrowly over, before Bowen again caused problems for the Lincoln backline after weaving his way into a shooting position inside the box, only to be denied by Soler who was quick off his line to save to wide-man’s effort in the final action of the opening 45 minutes.

Second Half XI: Ingram, Lichaj, Greaves, Trialist, Jacob, Stewart, Sheaf, Irvine, Hamilton, Milinkovic, Dicko.

The Tigers survived an early scare immediately after the restart as Gomez ran off celebrating after finding the back of the net via the inside of the post, only to see his celebrations cut short by the offside flag.

The frantic start continued at the other end of the pitch as the Tigers came within inches of grabbing the lead on 51 minutes, with Milinkovic missing a golden opportunity to make it 2-1 when hitting the post from close-range when left completely unmarked.

Jackson Irvine was the next to go close after great individual play from Max Sheaf allowed the midfielder to find Irvine, but the Australian was unable to convert on the volley as the ball came to him at an awkward height.

The Tigers’ pressure paid dividends on 55 minutes as they grabbed a deserved lead through the trialist in McCann’s ranks. Tyler Hamilton whipped in a superb delivery from a corner on the right, which was headed home in commanding fashion.

A third goal almost followed just past the hour mark when a challenge on Irvine saw the ball drop favourably for Nouha Dicko inside the box. The striker did well under pressure to get his shot away but was left frustrated as Alex Caro in the Red Imps goal made a vital stop.

Dicko did have the ball in the back of the net on 69 minutes, finding the bottom corner with a well-taken half-volley, but suffered more frustration after seeing the assistant’s flag raised – correctly – for offside.

The Tigers continued to threaten in the final third of the pitch with Sheaf letting fly from distance after being picked out by Irvine. It was a fine strike from the young midfielder, who was unlucky to see his effort drift agonisingly wide with Caro rooted to the spot.

McCann suffered a blow when Lichaj was forced off the pitch with a knock twelve minutes from time, with the experienced full-back replaced by Lewis Ritson.

Dicko kept persevering in his attempts to grab the goal his overall play deserved but was again unfortunate as Caro got down well to gather his fiercely-struck drive.

All the pressure came from the Tigers in the closing stages and although a third goal never came, it mattered not as the sound of the referee’s final whistle ensured the team’s time in Spain ended on a winning note.

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Match details

Match date

Fri 12, Jul 2019