Ten-man Lincoln Red Imps beats St Joseph to be one match away from the title
Lincoln Red Imps 2-1 St Joseph
After just three minutes Jamie Robba was nearly stunned when his clearance rebounded off a Lincoln forward luckily bouncing wide from goal. Lincoln Red Imps who were going to end with just ten men on the field showing their intent from the start.
The Lincoln Red Imps versus St Joseph clash was a crucial encounter for both. For Lincoln the three points would ensure that they would just need one more point to claim the league title,outright.
For St Joseph’s, following Bruno Magpies victory the previous night the three points would see them retake third place in the league, still needing to play against Bruno Magpies and Glacis United, their rivals for the third place spot.
Onlookers Europa would also be hoping for a result that gave them a peek towards the title, but also knowing that a victory for Lincoln would secure their automatic place in the Europa Conference League.
Playing under clear blue Spring skies to a somewhat quiet terrace with spectators still low it was Lincoln who created the early chances.
The first clear chance going over the crossbar from a tap to divert a corner to goal from inside the goalmouth after just seven minutes.
St Joseph lined up with a changed front line Valarino absent due to his loan contract not allowing him to play against his own club Lincoln Red Imps. Whilst, surprisingly, Peña Garcia and Gonzalez Moratato were on the subs bench. Both players understood to be targets for rival clubs including Lincoln Red Imps for this summer.
Returning into the first eleven for Lincoln Red Imps was Joseph Chipolina who had recently been starting from the bench following the completion of his one month UEFA suspension. Still absent, although already back to training was Roy Chipolina who is expected to return into the first eleven before the end of the season and in time for June’s Nations League matches. Both Wiseman and Rosa Blanco were also on the bench as McElwee rotated his players.
St Joseph came close to a goal on the twenty-second minute with a well driven shot from outside the penalty area forcing Arcos into a great save, pushing the ball over the crossbar for a corner.
Lincoln responded immediately earning a corner which was headed wide at the near post.
It was a tight first half contest where both sides protected their defences with the main battle coming through the centre third of the park and few real opportunities for goal. Both sides more than willing to build patiently from the back as they sought to retain possession.
The latter minutes of the first half saw Lincoln Red Imps up their momentum forward creating a couple of chances, although the first half had little to talk about with neither side really looking as if they were going to break the deadlock.
Lincoln Red imps started the second half producing two chances immediately from kick off. The first blocked as it headed goal bound with the second coming from the collection of the rebound and going across goal just inches wide from the post.
St Joseph immediately responded with a shot sent well wide off the target after a freekick clearance fell short outside the penalty area for a chance to shoot.
The tensions were to rise immediately after with Liam Walker receiving a red card on the 52nd minute after an off-the-ball incident ended with a push upon a St Joseph player who ended on the ground. The incident taking place immediately in front of the linesman who signalled the referee over the incident.
Although playing with ten men Lincoln Red Imps maintained their pressure on St Joseph penning them back into their half immediately after the incident.
With Lincoln Red imps defence intact St Joseph struggled to find a pathway and were being forced to seek long range shots which were easily dealt with by Arcos.
Lincoln Red Imps brought on Azarkhan for Lee Casciaro as they sought fresh legs up front to maintain their pressure. Just minutes later Rosa Blanco was to come on for Carralero with Lincoln maintaining their offensive posture as they still sought the three points.
St Joseph found it difficult to go on the offensive as Lincoln ramped up the pressure using Joseph Chipolina’s long throw ins to effectively pile the pressure in front of goal at every opportunity.
It was not until the 73rd minute that St Joseph came close with a shot diverted wide for a corner which was easily dealt with after.
As St Joseph looked at starting to get some control on possession Lincoln broke quickly and came close to scoring forcing a save from Robba with the rebound finishing at Azarkhan feet and blocked by a defender as the shot rung in. Within minutes St Joseph were defending another corner before they regained possession but struggling to get past Lincoln’s second line as the match closed in on its final ten minutes with both teams still deadlocked at 0-0.
A cross from Ronan ending with a header going just wide from Azarkhan as Lincoln again went forward threatening Robba’s goal.
Ramping up the pressure Lincoln Red Imps had yet another opportunity on the 82nd minute this time from a freekick at the far left of the goal. The ball going over the bar again.
St Joseph were dealt a blow as they lost possession from the goal kick and saw Rosa Blanco break free to goal with Lincoln Red Imps finally breaking the deadlock on the 83rd minute.
Azarkhan who received from Rosa Blanco runs leaving the ball for Yahaya to score.
St Joseph tried to plough forward but continued to find Lincoln’s defence difficult to get past.
Lincoln Red Imps were to score a second goal in injury time to secure the three points.
With five minutes of injury time gone St Joseph were awarded a late consolation after they were awarded a penalty. Juanma scoring what was to be the final goal of the match which had entered its 98th minute as the final whistle blew.
The three valuable points leaves them eight points clear at the top of the table. The result providing them with a chance to claim the league title this Easter weekend when they face bottom of the Championship group table Mons Calpe.
The defeat for St Joseph now means that they drop to fourth place with Bruno Magpies taking third place, one point ahead of them.
St Joseph face Glacis United next and will not come face to face with Bruno Magpies until their final league match of the season.
Lincoln Red Imps victory also now means that Europa FC have secured an automatic place in European club competition with only third place and the final fourth slot to be decided.