Saturday, September 27 FA Cup, 2nd qualifying round LINCOLN UNITED 0 EASTWOOD TOWN 1
CHRIS Shaw's late strike took Eastwood into the third qualifying round after a tough encounter in Lincoln on Saturday.
Substitute Shaw struck eight minutes from time to secure a win which sets up a clash with Harrogate Town on October 11.
In the perennial musical chairs merry-go-round which is currently Eastwood's selection process, out went skipper Richard Dunning and striker Marc Smith, back in was Alistair Asher, Lindon Meikle got a start and Shaw appeared on the bench.
Lincoln, complete underdogs, almost caused an instant sensation when the huge physical presence of Sam Wilkinson allied to snarling naked aggression upset the Eastwood defence and allowed Nigel Wallace to run clear on the left.
His fierce low cross was far enough out to strand Shane Redmond but, luckily for the visitors, the ball flew safely wide.
Ian Holmes controlled a long clearance and fed back to Paul Robinson whose promising solo run ended with an almost shot-cum-cross wide of goal.
Danny Sleath's incisive run down the left brought a corner which the ex-Mansfield Town youngster wildly over-clubbed yards beyond a packed goalmouth.
Almost immediately Sleath, from a corner on the right, by stark contrast failed to reach the near post.
'Bully boy' Wilkinson badly dazed Simon Sturdy with a dangerously swung elbow which caused the defender a lengthy absence but the Coventry-based referee, who saw nothing untoward in that incident, smartly penalised Mark Hume for a bone-shuddering retaliatory tackle.
Holmes head-flicked Peter Knox clear but the striker's powerful shot from left of goal flew centimetres wide of Mario Ziccardi's left-hand post.
Dave Frecklington, back for a second - or is it a third? - time looked dangerous and Asher showed his experience by tracking him for yards and nailing him with a clean-cut tackle 20 yards out.
Meikle, enjoying only his second start of the season, was upended by Ryan Porter but a free-kick in a dangerous position was criminally wasted by a wild shot high over the home goal.
Holmes and Knox twice in rapid succession combined well but both are currently failing to get on target and the best return was a corner which led to a mad scramble. Sleath eventually shot high over.
A badly delivered Eastwood corner gave Lincoln a quick break and Asher got back to concede a corner.
A short, well-rehearsed set-piece saw Frecklington pick out Wallace who, with the goal gaping, shot over.
Not content with that narrow escape, Eastwood's defence literally fell asleep allowing Wilkinson to set up Scott Lowman and forcing Redmond to an outstanding save. Half-time, 0-0.
Wilkinson, who had been yellow carded in 44 minutes for persistent fouling, had another off the ball niggle at Hume and triggered a caution for the Eastwood defender.
Holmes had another half chance following a speedy run and good pass from Meikle but Brendan McDaid got back to block behind for a corner.
The advent of Marc Smith was an obvious move and just after the hour mark, the tall lad replaced Knox.
Another quick substitution saw Tristram Whitman come on for Holmes and the newcomer quickly got behind the home defence and allowed Anton Foster to shoot but straight at the keeper.
The change the fans had been vociferiously demanding came in 73 minutes when cult hero Shaw replaced Sleath.
Wouldn't you just know it! Within minutes of his arrival, Shaw was standing ambitiously over a 'dead ball' situation fully 40 yards out.
The set-piece was the result of Smith being tripped by Danny George.
Shaw opted for the spectacular and his wickedly swerving long-distance shot swirled high into Lincoln's goalmouth and dropped unerringly from height between Ziccardi and his own crossbar for what was either a wonderful winner or an incredible fluke.
With all three subs on and their main strikers off, the home side were not ideally placed for a fightback, but a free-kick and corner signified they were, at least, fighting.
In the last act of a not too convincing performance by the Badgers, Foster was pulled back for a very questionable offside decision when clean through on the left.
For me, Lindon Meikle just about qualifies as 'Best Badger'.
1 - Shane Redmond
2 - Alistair Asher
3 - Danny Sleath (Chris Shaw 73)
4 - Paul Robinson
5 - Mark Hume
6 - Simon Sturdy
7 - Lindon Meikle
8 - Anton Foster (c)
9 - Ian Holmes (Tris Whitman 70)
10 - Peter Knox (Marc Smith 62)
11 - Russell Cooke
Subs not used: Richard Dunning, Craig Swinscoe
Referee: M Bingham (Coventry)
Best Badger - Lindon Meikle