City picked up all three points after a terrific performance against Rotherham United at the AESSEAL New York Stadium. Two goals either side of the half time break gave The Imps their first win against the Millers in South Yorkshire since the 1950's.
City had to withstand a barrage of pressure from Paul Warnes side in the opening 30 minutes or so of the game before showing fantastic grit and determination to get the right result, the unfortunate Shaun MacDonald put through his own net after sterling work from Tyler Walker created the danger just before the break then Harry Anderson headed home powerfully from a Jorge Grant corner three minutes into the second half.
The Imps started the game unchanged from the side that defeated Accrington Stanley in the opening game of the season, but there was a place on the bench for the latest recruit into the City line up, Aaron Lewis.
Rotherham United: Iversen, Mattock, MacDonald, Vassell, Ladapo, Barlaser, Robertson, Crooks, Ihiekwe, Olosunde, Smith
Subs: Price, Wood, Wiles, Proctor, Morris, Lindsay, Cooper
Both sets of supporters were giving it their all in support of their respective sides at the kick off in the almost packed out stadium in South Yorkshire. It was The Millers who were pushing offensively from the kick off, Matt Crooks nodded an early opportunity wide with the home fans behind Josh Vickers’ hoping it was sailing into the corner. Matt Olosunde chanced his arm from distance shortly after but again the ball was off target.
Conditions was arguably helping the home side’s quick attacking style as the wind swirled around inside the stadium meaning City had more than an atmospheric storm to deal with, but The Imps were as resolute as ever.
The game was combative, play was slowly being more prevalent in the middle third of the field and both sides were to see players going into the referee’s notebook with the atmosphere more akin to a local derby, with the 2,000+ Imps’ supporters making quite the noise.
Neither side had forced a ‘keeper into a save but Freddie Ladapo got the home supporters off their seats with a long-range effort which flew narrowly over the frame of the City goal, and Harry Toffolo was close to getting free down the left flank to cross giving the away fans more than a glimpse of positivity.
A right wing cross from Shaun MacDonald almost fed Kyle Vassell but it was well defended by Cian Bolger, then Tyler Walker was back doing some sterling defensive work nodding away a dangerous near post set piece. Harry Anderson was too back in his defensive third as the hosts put their foot on the pedal looking to force the ball home, with Ladapo in the mix this time but Vickers remained untested with half an hour gone in the gripping encounter.
Walker was close to profiting from a determined central burst from Anderson, but his route to goal was snuffed out by Clark Robertson before the first effort on target came from the hosts, Crooks running across the face of the box before shooting back across goal where Vickers was placed perfectly to save. Tyler Walker’s presence in the game was increasing and he almost made his way past Michael Ihiekwe following a looping ball forward from Michael Bostwick, before the hosts broke free with Michael Smith in a position to shoot but City’s defending was again on the spot, this time Toffolo was in the way taking all the sting off the effort leaving Vickers to pounce on the ball.
That missed opportunity was to be rued by the hosts as Danny Cowley’s men took the lead with a couple of minutes to the break, a quick free kick from the visitors as Neal Eardley set Walker free down the right, his low drilled cross cannoned off MacDonald and into his own goal.
Rotherham quickly looked to respond, Smith taking possession in the Imps box around eight yards out, his eyes widened as the goal was seemingly free but just as he let loose with his effort in slid Eardley with a perfectly timed block. The game opened right up with The Imps back on the attack as four minutes of injury time were called at the end of the first half, Jack Payne finding seemingly an inch of space to cross under considerable pressure, Jorge Grant timed his run perfectly to connect with the ball, it headed for the corner only to see Daniel Iversen make a timely stop ahead of the break.
Rotherham United 0 The Imps 1
Within a minute of the restart The Millers forced Vickers into a terrifc save right on his goalline, MacDonald looking to atone for his own goal, powered a downward header which needed all of the City ‘keepers talent to get down quickly to save and hold onto the ball.
The Imps as always weren’t resting on their lead, and were to force two quick successive corners, and the second one brought the second goal of the game. Grant taking a perfect set piece right onto the head of ANDERSON who raced in unmarked to thump his header home.
City were buoyant and the supporters doubly so and Danny Cowley’s men were quickly in search of a third goal, with set pieces a key piece of the armoury which was chinking the armour of the home defence but this time Miller’s keeper, Iversen came to claim the ball to deny The Imps from another pair of quick corner kicks.
Rotherham looked to change their angle of attack as they made a double substitution just ahead of the hour mark with City having to adjust and steady the ship but the game was being played at such a pace it was difficult for either side to get any sort of continuity to their play.
The Millers were having to put more balls into the City box and Paul Warne threw on Jamie Proctor into the attack, but it was another sub Carlton Morris who thought he was going to get his name on the scoresheet when the ball fell into his path around 12 yards out. Morris lashed at the ball but didn’t account for former Miller, Toffolo, throwing himself into the face of danger to block which resulted in a rousing roar of applause from the travelling Imps’ fans.
Freddie Ladapo found space down the Imps’ left as he profited following a Toffolo burst upfield, but his low cross was collected by Vickers at his near post as the City full back somehow got back to hurry the Millers number 10 into the misplaced centre.
With the clock ticking towards full time the hosts threw more men forward and went close when Morris curled a free kick just over the bar, then they won their sixth corner of the game when Bostwick blocked off an opportunity, City’s number 16 was then in the way of a goalbound header from Robertson as the travelling army of Imps started to think of taking the three points back to Sincil Bank.
Of course the hosts weren’t going to lie down and pushed harder than ever to get on the scoresheet, Crooks was denied at the back post by Eardley, then Vickers saved the best almost to last as Joe Mattock pinged in the perfect ball for Proctor who thought he’s scored but from nowhere the City stopper seemed to throw out a right arm to save, leaving some comparing the save to that famous one from Gordon Banks against Pele in World Cup 1970.
The Imps almost snatched a third with moments to go when Bruno Andrade nicked the ball off Ben Wiles on half way and sped towards goal on the left with Olosunde in hot pursuit, but Iversen stood big and denied the City substitute. It was to be the final chance of a terrific game and a wonderful away performance by The Imps.
Rotherham United 0 The Imps 2
1 Daniel IVERSEN
3 Joe MATTOCK
4 Shaun MacDONALD
7 Kyle VASSELL
10 Freddie LADAPO
11 Dan BARLASER
15 Clark ROBERTSON
17 Matt CROOKS
20 Michael IHIEKWE
22 Matt OLOSUNDE
24 Michael SMITH
12 Lewis PRICE
6 Richard WOOD
8 Ben WILES (57’ for Barlaser)
9 Jamie PROCTOR (65’ for Vassell)
14 Carlton MORRIS (57’ for Smith)
16 Jamie LINDSAY
33 Jake COOPER
Booking: Ladapo 16’, Crooks 51’, Vassell 59’, MacDonald 76’
1 Josh VICKERS
3 Harry TOFFOLO
4 Michael O’CONNOR
6 Cian BOLGER
10 Jack PAYNE
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Tyler WALKER
18 Jorge GRANT
19 Joe MORRELL
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
21 Grant SMITH
11 Bruno ANDRADE (71’ for Grant)
12 Ellis CHAPMAN (90’ for O’Connor)
14 Jordan ADEBAYO-SMITH
15 Alex BRADLEY
22 Aaron LEWIS
29 John AKINDE (77’ for Walker)
Booking: Morrell 21’, Toffolo 73’
Goal: MacDonald 42’ (O.G), Anderson 48’
Referee: Lee Swabey
Assistants: Helen Byrne & Wayne Grunnill
4th Official: David Plowright
Attendance: 10,706 (2,320 Imps’ supporters)