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Youth Team
Aug 5, 2004
Lincoln City v Southend United

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday, 28 May
Kick-off: 1500 BST
BBC Radio Five Live


Lincoln are likely to be unchanged from the side which reached the play-off final by drawing with Macclesfield.

Striker Francis Green is likely to partner Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Simon Yeo in attack, which means Derek Asamoah will start on the bench.

Southend midfielder Mark Bentley will be available despite suffering a fractured thumb against Northampton.

Tes Bramble has recovered from a hamstring injury, while Mark Gower (groin) is likely to be on the bench.



LINCOLN CITY and Southend kick off the 2004/05 Coca Cola League Play-Off finals, to determine who'll be joining Yeovil, Scunthorpe and Swansea in League One next season. These are the last Play-Offs scheduled to be played at the Millennium Stadium before the return to a rebuilt Wembley. Keith Alexander's Red Imps are determined to banish two years of end-of-season Play-Off heartbreak with victory over a Shrimpers side experiencing the showpiece sudden death decider for the first time, but making their second trip to Cardiff in seven weeks.

Two years ago Lincoln defeated Scunthorpe in the semi-finals of the Third Division Play Offs to reach the final, but their players froze on the big occasion and they were thrashed 5-2 by Bournemouth. City finished seventh last season - one place lower than the previous campaign - and failed to successfully negotiate the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Huddersfield.

The Red Imps ended the regular season with one point from the last three games, and failed to score in all three. They finished sixth in the table, equal on 72 points with seventh placed Northampton, and with Darlington in eighth - who were edged out of the Play Offs. Towering headers from set pieces by Gareth McAuley in each of the semi-finals proved enough to see off fifth placed Macclesfield. No club managed more away wins than Lincoln's nine in League Two this season, nor did any side concede fewer away goals in the division than City's 25. But they go to Cardiff with just one victory in eight matches on the road. A 1-4 triumph at Rushden on 25 March was their last win away from Sincil Bank, since when they've drawn one and lost three of the four subsequent trips. Keith Alexander's side scored first in more League Two games than any other club (28) and conceded the opener on fewer occasions (14). Only Rochdale kept more clean sheets in the fourth tier than Lincoln's 19.

Keith Alexander is enjoying his second managerial spell with Lincoln. Born in Nottingham on 14 November 1958, Alexander ended his professional playing career with Lincoln, following spells as either a winger or forward with Grimsby and Stockport. The 46 year old began his current spell in charge at Sincil Bank on 5 May 2002, and took the side to the Play Off final in that first season. Six months later, after collapsing at home Alexander was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery to have some fluid drained from his brain. Happily, he made a complete recovery, returned to his managerial duties and continued to keep the side in contention for promotion in both subsequent seasons.

Simon Yeo is Lincoln's leading scorer with 23 goals - six behind the League Two front runner Phil Jevons of Yeovil. However, Yeo has not found the net since a first minute effort against Scunthorpe at Sincil Bank on 28 March. Ritchie Hanlon made his debut for Southend.

The Red Imps have not beaten Southend in four meetings in all competitions. The three most recent of those were all in League Two, and all drawn. Both this season's League clashes ended 1-1. Lincoln's last victory over the Shrimpers was 0-2 at Roots Hall on 16 September 2003.

Lincoln last gained promotion to the third League level in 1997/98, but only managed a one season stay in the Nationwide Second Division. They are aiming to return after an absence of six seasons.

SOUTHEND UNITED are making their third journey to the Millennium Stadium in two seasons, and go in search of a first victory. They've lost two successive LDV Vans Trophy finals there. Last season, they went down 0-2 to Blackpool, and then last April they took Wrexham to extra time after a goalless 90 minutes, but eventually lost once again by a 0-2 margin.

That defeat signalled a loss of form by the Shrimpers at just the wrong time. They did win 1-2 at Macclesfield on 19 April to go top of the League Two table, but that victory was surrounded by three defeats and a 1-1 draw on the last day of the regular season at Grimsby, which saw Southend edged out of the automatic promotion places by Swansea.

United ended the campaign in fourth place, two points outside the top three and five points below champions Yeovil. The Play Off winners in 10 of the last 13 years at this level ended the League campaign in fourth spot. Also the club promoted to the third tier via the Play Offs ended the regular season on the top rung of the Play Off zone in all but two of the last 13 seasons. Southend have bucked the trend in this season's Play Offs. In all the other divisions, the two lowest ranked clubs have qualified for the final. They are also the only club to have qualified from the semi-finals, who were at home in the second leg.

The Play Off semi-finals with Northampton were tight. A goalless first leg at Sixfields, was followed by a 1-0 win at Roots Hall, decided by a 49th minute penalty from Freddy Eastwood. That brought Eastwood's tally to 23 for the season. Southend's leading scorer and a former West Ham trainee, has made 41 appearances for the Essex club, since joining them from non League Grays on 4 October. Defender Adam Barrett has netted 10 goals.

Spencer Prior is Southend's most experienced player. The 34 year old defender is now back at Roots Hall, having started his playing career there. In between, Prior has played Premier$hite football for Norwich, Leicester, Derby and Manchester City.

Eight years ago, Southend were playing in the second League level. They last played in the third tier in 1997/98, spending a single season there on their way down from Division One to Division Three in successive relegations. But under Steve Tilson, their fortunes are being revived. The 38 year old began and ended his playing days with the Shrimpers, making 272 appearances, and scoring 30 goals for them between 1989 and 2002, in which time he enjoyed promotion twice. He succeeded Steve Wignall in 2004, taking over initially as caretaker manager in November 2003 from another temporary appointment in David Webb. Tilson is the League Two Manager of the Year, named by the League Managers' Association.

Like Lincoln, Southend won nine away matches in League Two this season. They scored more goals on the road than any other club in the division (34), and built the season's longest unbeaten League Two run home and away of 14 matches. The Roots Hall club opened the scoring in 22 of their 46 League games, and went on to win 20 of them. They failed to win just three matches in which they led - the best performance in both those statistics of any club in the division.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)


2004/05 League Two Play Offs
Date Rnd Res
14 May 2005 SF 1L Lincoln C 1-0 Macclesfield more
15 May 2005 SF 1L N'thampton 0-0 Southend U more
21 May 2005 SF 2L Macclesfield 1-1 Lincoln C more
21 May 2005 SF 2L Southend U 1-0 N'thampton more



Lincoln City 1-1 Southend United
10 August 2004 - Ref: Gary Lewis
Lincoln scorer: Taylor-Fletcher 9
Southend scorer: Gray 34 pen

Southend United 1-1 Lincoln City
12 March 2005 - Ref: Clive Penton
Southend scorer: Eastwood 90 pen
Lincoln scorer: Futcher 87



All: Lincoln 11 wins, Southend 17, Draws 14
League: Lincoln 11 wins, Southend 15, Draws 14
Lincoln away to Southend - all: Won 3, Drawn 7, Lost 11
Lincoln away to Southend - Lge: Won 3, Drawn 7, Lost 10
Southend away to Lincoln - all: Won 6, Drawn 7, Lost 8
Southend away to Lincoln - Lge: Won 5, Drawn 7, Lost 8