The Imps picked up another point after a battling and hardworking performance at Accrington Stanley this afternoon.
Neither sides could make their mark on the scoresheet but it was a game full of effort and endeavour from both of the teams, City were banging on the door right to the end of the highly competitive game but couldn’t quite squeeze home the winner.
City made six changes to the starting line up from the side which took on Manchester City Under 21’s in midweek. Notably, there was a return for Lewis Montsma in the heart of the defence with Liam Bridcutt in for his first league appearance since the win over Ipswich Town in late October and Max Melbourne came in for his first league start of the season.
The game started at a breakneck pace with action at both ends within the opening couple of minutes, Alex Palmer was twice called upon to make saves in a matter of seconds, Matt Butcher was the first to be denied before the City stopper also blocked Joe Pritchard’s effort. The Imps were then twice denied by the home defence as Jorge Grant pounced on a loose backpass and pulled back to Conor McGrandles who had his effort blocked on the line by Mark Hughes before McGrandles got onto the rebound but his second effort was also blocked on its way towards goal.
It was a very open encounter in the opening ten minutes or so and it didn’t show any signs of slowing down on a very slick pitch at the Wham Stadium. Grant was showing his full repertoire of skills, displaying a range of passing to go with his quick feet which were at times bamboozling the home defence. But it has to be said as much as City were looking very positive, the home defence were showing a real resolve at the back to fend off the visitors. Harry Anderson did very well to create space down the right after TJ Eyoma slid the ball down into the right channel, the cross from Anderson took a slight deflection and looped into the air and found the head of McGrandles but Toby Savin was in the right place to save.
Pritchard was the closest to opening the scoring for the home side after they won the ball back in midfield courtesy of a strong challenge from Jon Russell, the Stanley number 10 racing forward but his effort from the left whistled over the top. The Imps had their turn to show their rearguard strength as Stanley’s Dion Charles was showing a turn of pace down the Stanley right, but such was the work ethic of City the home side found Tom Hopper back in the way heading two balls into the box, the first from a corner, away from danger. Pritchard continued to be the dangerman for the home side and he highlighted that threat with a confident effort from distance which had Palmer diving full stretch to his right but thankfully the ball went wide of target. Colby Bishop forced Palmer into a save at his near post as John Coleman’s side had a purple patch of possession ahead of the half time whistle.
Accrington Stanley 0 The Imps 0
Stanley started the second half with a real intensity, closing the ball down quickly and looking to catch City unaware putting the ball into the box on numerous occasions but the more direct approach from the hosts wasn’t to faze The Imps.
Brennan Johnson showed his pace down the right, and knocked the ball ahead of himself getting into the box shadowed by Cameron Burgess who did well to match the run of the City substitute but Johnson went down under the challenge but the officials saw no foul on the Imps’ substitute. Lewis Montsma strode out of defence to start City’s next attack, playing the ball into the feet of Johnson on the right whose cross/shot was deflected over the top.
Around the hour mark the pace of the game picked back up to earlier levels with the ball going end to end quickly and City had Palmer to thank as he did well to deny a stinging near post effort from Charles. Moments later, McGrandles read the movement of the ball terrifically in midfield to snatch possession inside the City half, Bridcutt took over and fed Johnson who danced into the area and hit a near post cross but Hopper was beaten to the ball and it was cleared.
Stanley were to be reduced to ten men as sub Sean McConville was dismissed for a high footed challenge on Montsma. Within moments of that incident The Imps went close as Johnson was the curator of another half chance, Grant fed the ball round the back of Burgess for Johnson and he pulled the ball back towards Hopper but Michael Nottingham was in the right place to clear the cross.
Anthony Scully struck the post after cutting inside then Grant fired the rebound across the face of goal before Bridcutt smashed a dipping effort just over the top as Michael Appleton’s men were pushing to make the most of their numerical advantage with ten minutes remaining. The Imps were pressing hard for the winner, Robbie Gotts fired in a dangerous low centre which Adam Jackson looked to turn into the corner but it was deflected inches wide of goal then Bridcutt flashed a shot just wide from the resulting corner.
City went close again as James Jones’ flick header from Grant’s free kick on the left was kept out by a combination of the upright and the flailing arm of Savin in the Stanley goal and it proved to be the final goalmouth action as both sides left with a point apiece.
Accrington Stanley 0 The Imps 0
40 Toby SAVIN
2 Michael NOTTINGHAM
3 Mark HUGHES
4 Cameron BURGESS
6 Matt BUTCHER
8 Jon RUSSELL
10 Joe PRITCHARD
18 Harvey RODGERS
19 Colby BISHOP
28 Seamus CONNEELY
32 Dion CHARLES
1 Nathan BAXTER
9 Ryan CASSIDY
11 Sean McCONVILLE (65’ for Russell)
15 Mo SANGARE
16 Ben BARCLAY
24 Steven SAMA
26 Lewis MANSELL
Red Card: McConville 71’
1 Alex PALMER
3 Max MELBOURNE
4 Lewis MONTSMA
5 Adam JACKSON
8 James JONES
9 Tom HOPPER
10 Jorge GRANT
18 Conor McGRANDLES
22 TJ EYOMA
23 Liam BRIDCUTT
26 Harry ANDERSON
31 Sam LONG
7 Tayo EDUN (79’ for Melbourne)
11 Anthony SCULLY (70’ for McGrandles)
14 Theo ARCHIBALD
20 Brennan JOHNSON (46’ for Anderson)
24 Robbie GOTTS (79’ for Eyoma)
30 Sean ROUGHAN
Booked: Johnson 57', Eyoma 68’
Referee: Andy Haines
Assistants: Paul Graham & Joe Simpson
4th Official: Aaron Jackson