13 April 1999
Lincoln 2 Reading 2
Maybury, Gray, Parkinson, Barras, Casper, McLaren, Caskey, McIntyre, Sarr (Scott),
Hardly a fantastic result, but a satisfactory result all the same. This game was there to be won, but after Reading nearly threw all the points away a draw, which brings our four match losing run to the end, isn't such a bad thing. Reading welcomed back Darren Caskey to the side, missing on Saturday through suspension, and his two goals from his midfield role turned out to be vital. Recalled into the centre of defence was the partnership of Barras and Casper, with Sarr making another first team start.
The first half was a scrappy affair. But a scrappy affair in which Reading were well on top despite failing to put enough pressure on the Lincoln City goal. Lincoln looked like a side who'd lost five games in a row, and Reading looked their one-less-consecutive-defeat better. Hardly suprising that passes were missing targets and both goalkeepers were having quite quiet games.
The first chance of the game fell to Caskey inside the box after quarter of an hour. He controlled the ball but then failed to connect properly with it and blasted it harmlessly into the home keeper's arms. Lincoln's only real attempt at goal of the half came on the half hour when a header from a free kick outside the box was headed wide of the target.
It looked to be heading towards a predictable 0-0 half-time scoreline when Caskey fired home a beautiful free-kick with about five minutes of the half remaining. The ball flew left and over the defensive wall and dipped into the corner - giving the keeper little chance and putting Reading one goal up. For a moment it looked like Reading might press home their advantage and make it two with McIntyre going close, but we failed to take advantage and so 1-0 at half time. The just over 2,000 fans giving their side a suitable half-time booing.
The second half continued in much the same way until about ten minutes in it when Lincoln scored a shock equaliser. The ball was blasted across the face of the goal, managed to avoid the Reading defence entirely, and was slid in at the far post with two Lincoln players waiting. 1-1. And all of a sudden Lincoln remembered that they needed the three points to stand a chance of staying in Division Two come the end of the season. A few minutes later the home side threatened to take the lead - Howie blocking a close range shot on the line. Reading weathered the mini-storm and the game slipped back down a gear.
On seventy minutes Sarr did well to get in a great cross to McLaren on the right - his shot was deflected wide for a corner. A corner, that was wasted as once again Reading were entirely outjumped by the Lincoln defence and the ball was cleared.
Shit defending almost put Lincoln ahead a few minutes later. A free kick was played straight down the middle and not picked up at all leaving a free shot on target by a Lincoln forward more awake than our defence. Thankfully the shot was wide and Howie wasn't needed to make the save. A few minutes after that shit defending did cost us a goal. Barras played a back header towards Howie. Howie left it too late before strolling to collect the ball and in nipped the Lincoln forward to bundle the ball over the line. And all of a sudden Reading were 1-2 down with the game slipping away - when it never looked possible to lose against a weak Lincoln side lacking in any confidence.
On came Scott to replace Sarr, and once again he made a difference. Reading weren't behind for long. Scott played a great ball to McLaren on the left who crossed to Caskey in the middle, and Caskey made no mistake - volleying past the keeper. YES. 2-2. Caskey's second of the game and ninth of the season.
There was still time for the usual panic with Casper lucky to stay on the pitch after bringing down a player when he was the last man back. Casper escaped a card though - much to the displeasure of the Lincoln team and bench. With moments left Reading almost grabbed the win. Scott once again the provider, playing the ball to McIntyre, McIntyre's shot was just wide though, and so the game ended 2-2.
From a tight defence earlier this season we're also looking dodgy at the back. We know Casper is a great player - but not in a four man defence. It seems it was a definate end of season game and result. Lincoln look to be heading towards Division Three without much of a fight - but they still almost managed to overcome Reading during a second half when Reading may have sat back far too much. Caskey's equaliser proves we were capable of something, and there was the occasional good move. Problem is it seems far too occasional. It's understandable, perhaps, to lack the motivation and determination at this stage of the season, but things have to change before next season kicks off.