FT: Imps 2 Dartford 1

Late Colin Larkin penalty secures points in action-packed Sincil Bank encounter...

City went into this home game against Dartford looking to chalk up their first Blue Square Bet Premier 'double' of the season and manager David Holdsworth went for the strike pairing of Vadaine Oliver and Colin Larkin who impressed in Kent back in December with the latter's hat-trick paving the way for a 4-2 success; the Imps' last win prior to this fixture.

City kicked off attacking the Bridge McFarland Stand and were the first to press with Adam Smith cutting in from the left only to crash a goal-bound effort into the back of team mate Larkin.

Oliver then stabbed an effort wide after Scott Garner nodded down a Peter Gilbert free-kick but it wasn't long before the striker was in the action again as, when Tom Miller looped in a deep cross, up rose Oliver to beat 'keeper Marcus Bettinelli to the ball before heading home from six yards out.

Dartford responded by winning a couple of corners which City easily dealt with whilst at the other end another Miller cross was this time helped on by Oliver before Larkin hit the woodwork via Bettinelli's gloves and again from his follow-up effort, although the assistant referee's flag was raised.

A mistimed challenge from Garner on Danny Harris earned the City man a 14th minute yellow card before the game entered a five-minute quiet spell, although the Imps were dominant in terms of possession.

Sheridan had a shot charged down as he looked to double the advantage as the half approached its midway point whilst a couple of minutes later Andrew Boyce headed over an Alan Power free-kick at full stretch.

City kept pressing forward with a long Miller throw ending up with the ball falling to Oliver only for the striker to be denied a second with a Dartford defender hacking off the line. The visitors' response saw Ryan Hayes fire in a low cross which was sliced into the side netting by Gilbert with skipper Elliot Bradbrook heading the resultant corner well over.

In the 32nd minute Miller joined Garner in the book for kicking the ball away after being penalised for a foul close to the touchline but three minutes later there was drama after Sheridan went in hard on Lee Noble. The challenge didn't look to severe at the time but referee Ross Joyce was quickly amongst the crowd of players who had gathered to produce a straight red card. Scuffles broke out elsewhere, most notably befween Smith and Erskine, and once things calmed down Joyce booked both offenders.

Temperatures remained close to boiling point with Bonner fouling Oliver before Gilbert felled Hayes on the Darts' right. This free-kick was superbly punched clear by Preece with the resultant counter-attack ending with Miller winning a corner which was hurriedly cleared.

The half ended after an additional three minutes with City boss David Holdsworth quick to voice his opinions to referee Joyce as he left the pitch following the official's decision to dismiss Sheridan.

HT: Imps 1 Dartford 0

Neither side made any changes during the break and once things got underway again the visitors were the first to attack with Gilbert forced to clear a dangerous cross behind for a corner which was cleared with ease.

City's response saw Larkin flick the ball past his marker before winning a throw-in in an attacking position which was taken by Miller and punched away under pressure by Bettinelli.

The visitors were the first to make a switch with Nathan Collier coming on for Erskine 14 minutes after the restart whilst a couple of minutes later Adam Smith and Vadaine Oliver were replaced by Jake Jones and debutant Craig Hobson for the Imps.

Both City substitutes were quickly in the action with Hobson having a great chance to open his account but the Stockport loanee delayed his effort at goal and gave Bonner the chance to nip in and clear.

Dominic Green for Elliot Bradbrook was Dartford's second change as the game approached its final quarter before Hobson was dragged to the deck by Mark Arber only for referee Joyce to wave play on.

Arber was in the action shortly afterwards, connecting with a corner only to see his header tipped behind by Preece at full stretch; this second flag-kick ended up with Richard Rose heading across the face of goal before Bonner prodded wide.

Jones and Power then combined before Hobson was denied after Bettinelli smothered at his feet but with 14 minutes remaining, Dartford levelled when Lee Noble cut in on to his right foot before placing a neat low effort past Preece's outstretched arms and into the bottom corner of the net.

A minute after this blow, Hayes escaped punishment after going in late on Jones and shortly afterwards the Dartford man was replaced by Jack Evans. Harris then fired over with the Darts' goal clearly giving them a lift.

With five minutes remaining, there was more drama when, after Boyce helped on a free-kick, Jones went to ground under Green's challenge. The assistant referee was quick to flag with referee Joyce duly pointing to the spot. Goalkeeper Bettinelli saw yellow for his protest. Green was also quick to vent his frustration at the man with the flag and with Larkin coming across to get the ball off him, the pair went nose-to-nose and with a number of other tussles taking place the officials had their work cut out in a bid to calm things down. 

Larkin, Green and then Hobson were also cautioned before the penalty could be taken; Larkin neatly chipping home before reeling away in celebration.

Jones was booked before play restarted for over-celebrating the goal and Preece completed the card count for delaying the taking of a free-kick a couple of minutes later as the drama continued into five minutes of added time.

Dan Gray replaced Larkin to eat some seconds up whilst the last attempt at goal saw Bonner head a corner over with the 10-man Imps eventually emerging victorious for the first time in 2013.

FT: Imps 2 Dartford 1

City: David Preece, Tom Miller, Andrew Boyce, Scott Garner, Peter Gilbert, Paul Turnbull, Alan Power, Adam Smith, Jake Sheridan, Vadaine Oliver, Colin Larkin.

subs: Jamie Taylor, Dan Gray (for Larkin 90+2), Jake Jones (for Smith 61), Craig Hobson (for Oliver 61), Paul Farman.

goals: Oliver (6), Larkin (89 pen)

bookings: Garner (14), Miller (32), Smith (37), Larkin (87), Hobson (89), Jones (89), Preece (90)

sending off: Sheridan (35)

Dartford: Marcus Bettinelli, Richard Rose, Tom Champion, Tom Bonner, Ryan Hayes, Jacob Erskine, Elliot Bradbrook, Danny Harris, Lee Noble, Mark Arber, Lee Burns.

subs: Jon Wallis, James Rogers, Nathan Collier (for Erskine 59), Dominic Green (for Bradbrook 68), Jack Evans (for Hayes 80).

goals: Noble (76)

bookings: Erskine (37), Bettinelli (86), Green (88)

Referee: Ross Joyce
Assistants: Marc Edwards & Paul Brown
Fourth Official: Martin Dexter

Attendance: 1,789 (139 visiting supporters)