Imps 3 Gateshead 0There were three changes to the City starting line-up for this Bank Holiday Monday match against Gateshead with Bradley Wood, Sean Raggett and Adam Marriott coming in for Terry Hawkridge, Jamie McCombe and Jonny Margetts.
Sincil Bank was bathed in late August sunshine as referee Tom Bramall led the two teams out of the tunnel and once the formalities with the two captains were complete, Gateshead got the game underway.
It was a quiet opening to the game but this changed in the sixth minute when, after a Nathan Arnold free-kick was kept alive by the Imps, Alex Woodyard chipped in a peach of a cross and there to head home from six yards was SEAN RAGGETT for his first goal in City colours.
City kept up the pressure with Marriott and then Harry Anderson both upended but Rhead was unable to direct Arnold's free-kick goalwards. The first corner of the game was won by Anderson and this led to another on the opposite flank but Gateshead stopper Sam Johnson claimed Arnold's delivery.
Gateshead's first foray forward came on the quarter hour mark with Sam Habergham blocking a James Bolton effort for a corner. The set-piece ended with Paul Farman saving well from Ryan Bowman with the Imps clearing their lines from the resultant flag-kick.
Bowman then fired wide following a dangerous Paddy McLaughlin free-kick into the danger area whilst at the other end Arnold drilled just over after cutting in well from the left.
In the 25th minute a long-range effort from George Smith took a deflection for a Gateshead corner; this leading to another which was headed well over by Jamal Fyfield.
An off the ball tangle between Gus Mafuta and Lee Beevers resulted in a free-kick to City and a word from the referee to both players. Mr Bramall then spoke to Fyfield and Arnold after the latter was left grounded following an altercation as the visitors prepared to take a free-kick.
At the other end Anderson won a corner after his initial shot was blocked following a neat Rhead flick whilst another spell of Gateshead pressure saw Habergham clear his lines before Anderson sprinted forward and won a throw-in.
The half ended after two additional minutes of play.
HT: IMPS 1 GATESHEAD 0
Both teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second half so it was as you were as the Imps restarted proceedings.
The first half-chance of the second period came City's way with great footwork from Marriott seeing him create space but he screwed his shot a foot wide of Johnson's left-hand upright.
City kept up the pressure and doubled their advantage five minutes after the restart; a Marriott back-heel changed the direction of play, giving Woodyard the chance to slot a pin-point through ball though to NATHAN ARNOLD who did the rest, finishing neatly past the advancing Johnson.
Five minutes later Wood was flattened by George Smith after he chipped the ball over him. Smith was grounded for almost three minutes having come off worse in the process and when he got to his feet was shown a yellow card. Toby Ajala came on as his replacement.
Woodyard curled over after great link-up play with Rhead whilst at the other end Farman tipped behind a McLaughlin drive after Habergham was caught in possession. Before the corner was taken Reece Styche replaced Ryan Bowman for the visitors.
Shortly afterwards Waterfall set Marriott free with a superb through ball but the offside flag went up, much to the annoyance of the Imps' bench.
City's first change came in the 71st minute with Jonny Margetts coming on for Matt Rhead who received a terrific reception as he left the pitch. A minute later a dangerous Mafuta cross was headed behind by Raggett but Ajala curled the corner straight out of play.
Gateshead's third and final change saw Sam Jones replace Danny Johnson with 14 minutes on the clock and five minutes later Terry Hawkridge came on for Nathan Arnold for the Imps.
With the clock ticking towards the 84th minute, the Imps extended their lead; superb stuff from Hawkridge and Woodyard in the middle of the park opened things up with ADAM MARRIOTT taking over; advancing and blasting home left-footed into the top right corner of the Gateshead net.
Marriott was replaced by Alan Power before play restarted and a couple of minutes later a sweeping City attack ended with a covering defender clearing a Hawkridge cross out for a corner.
City remained in control and were playing some super stuff and shortly after Beevers and Power combined to win a corner, the Fourth Official indicated that a minimum of five minutes were to be added on. The only action of note during these added stages was Hawkridge and Manny Smith both being booked following a tangle close to the corner flag.
FT: IMPS 3 GATESHEAD 0
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Bradley WOOD
3 Sam HABERGHAM
5 Luke WATERFALL
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Adam MARRIOTT
12 Harry ANDERSON
18 Lee BEEVERS
25 Sean RAGGETT
28 Nathan ARNOLD
30 Alex WOODYARD
8 Alan POWER
11 Terry HAWKRIDGE (for ARNOLD 80)
13 Jonny MARGETTS (for RHEAD 71)
27 Jamie McCOMBE
23 Jimmy WALKER
GOALS: RAGGETT (6), ARNOLD (50), MARRIOTT (84)
BOOKING: HAWKRIDGE (90+3)
1 Sam JOHNSON
2 James BOLTON
3 George SMITH
4 Manny SMITH
5 Liam HOGAN
6 Jamal FYFIELD
7 Wes YORK
9 Danny JOHNSON
19 Ryan BOWMAN
22 Gus MAFUTA
26 Paddy McLAUGHLIN
8 Mitch BRUNDLE
10 Sam JONES (for D JOHNSON 74)
14 Toby AJALA (for G SMITH 58)
17 Reece STYCHE (for BOWMAN 63)
13 Dan HANFORD
BOOKINGS: G SMITH (57), M SMITH (90+3)
REFEREE: Thomas Bramall
ASSISTANTS: Martyn Holmes & Alex Guy
FOURTH OFFICIAL: James Turner
ATTENDANCE: 3,687 (110 visiting supporters)