Football: Gainsborough out of the picture

Gainsborough Trinity 2 Lincoln City 3
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The Independent Online
In the shadow of Lincoln cathedral, a century-old FA Cup rivalry was fought out with almost religious fervour in last night's first-round replay at Sincil Bank. Lincoln, the Third Division leaders, bludgeoned their way into a three-goal lead, yet finished the match clinging to the most slender of advantages after Gainsborough responded with spirit and no little style.

Gainsborough, 13th in the UniBond League, looked set for a humiliating defeat as John Beck's side ran in an unholy trinity of goals in four minutes early in the match.

Strangely enough, Gainsborough had started more positively. Kevin Riley forced a fine save from Barry Richardson, while Lincoln's man-mountain defender, Dean Walling, twice averted danger created by Jason Maxwell.

Typically for a team managed by the high priest of the long-ball game, all Lincoln's first-half haul came from headers. In the 15th minute, Walling powered in Jason Barnett's long throw. He repeated the feat within two minutes from a cross by Terry Fleming.

Gainsborough's Steve Sherwood, Watford's FA Cup final keeper of 13 years ago, had scarcely touched the ball. Sixty seconds later he was helpless again as Jon Whitney scored at the far post.

The part-timers cut the deficit after 29 minutes with yet another header, Paul Ellender converting Steve Price's pass. Five minutes before the interval they were back in the tie as a Price free-kick sneaked under Richardson's dive.

The keeper made partial amends when, in Gainsborough's next attack, he parried from Maxwell at point-blank range. Then, with the non-Leaguers continuing to play an attractive passing game that contrasted sharply with Lincoln's long-ball approach, Richardson beat aside another goalbound effort by Maxwell.

Sherwood spread himself bravely to deny Steve Holmes at spitting distance. Otherwise, even the incessant pounding of a drum by one of their supporters failed to drive Lincoln forward, and Richardson was nearly caught out by a mis-hit cross by Rob Hanby which landed on the roof of his net.

Phil Stant fired against a post with 11 minutes remaining, though a fourth goal would have been harsh on their enterprising neighbours. Gainsborough's noisy following left claiming a moral victory, chanting "Boring, boring Lincoln", while their club departed the Cup for another year pounds 40,000 better off for their two derbies with Lincoln.

Gainsborough Trinity (3-4-1-2): Sherwood; Ogley, Timons, Ellender; Hanby, Circuit, Price (Taylor, 80), Limber; P Brown; Riley, Maxwell. Substitutes not used: Morrow, Rhule, Jones, Lee.

Lincoln City (3-5-2): Richardson; Barnett, Walling, Austin; Thorpe, Hone, Holmes, Fleming, Whitney; Gordon, Stant. Substitutes not used: S Brown, Stones, Robertson, Bimson, Vaughan (gk).

Referee: M Reed (Birmingham).