City secure their first win back in the EFL in some style at Sincil Bank...
Manager Danny Cowley named an unchanged starting line-up for this Sky Bet League 2 game against Carlisle United at a sunny Sincil Bank Stadium and the atmosphere was electric as referee Eddie Ilderton led the two teams out on to an immaculate-looking playing surface.
The Cumbrians got the game underway attacking the Stacey West Stand but it was the Imps who started the brighter with the opening five minutes being camped inside the Carlisle half; appeals for an early penalty as Matt Rhead appeared to be held down by Danny Grainger being waved away.
Carlisle's first foray forward ended with Reggie Lambe slicing a 25-yard effort well wide and as the Imps responded Matt Green was flattened in the area following a Rhead flick-on. Despite vociferous appeals from players and supporters alike, referee Ilderton was happy to let play continue, much to the annoyance of all in the home camp.
Shortly after the quarter-hour mark Sean Raggett was left grounded following an aerial challenge by Richie Bennett who escaped punishment before and shortly afterwards the first corner, won by the visitors, ended with Gary Liddle tamely firing well wide.
Skipper Luke Waterfall was then forced to divert a Jamie Devitt cross out for another corner and after the Imps dealt with this danger, their next attack ended with the overlapping Neal Eardley forcing a corner at the other end. Taken by Jordan Maguire-Drew, this ended with Michael Bostwick having a header cleared before Mark Ellis needed treatment.
The deadlock was broken on the half-hour mark and it came from an unlikely source. Striker Green was the architect and it was his persistence that saw him hold off his man before laying the ball back to ALEX WOODYARD who curled home a beauty for his first goal on home turf.
Carlisle's response saw ex-Imp Tom Miller fizz in a cross from the right which flew across the face of goal. At the other end more good work from Green saw him force a corner on the City right but this came to nothing as Rhead was pulled up for a push.
Five minutes before the break a dangerous Devitt centre was cleared behind by Waterfall but Raggett got in a towering header to clear the danger when the ball was floated in.
Shortly afterwards City had keeper Paul Farman to thank as he pulled off a superb reflex save to keep out a deflected Mike Jones effort before Bennett headed the loose ball over the bar.
Midway through four added minutes Bennett was booked for moving in front of Farman and subsequently blocking a drop-kick and this proved the last action of the opening 45 minutes.
HT: IMPS 1 CARLISLE 0
There were no changes as City restarted the game and Waterfall got in a great early block to deny Hallam Hope before Farman blocke the Carlisle striker's follow-up effort.
City's response saw Green hold up play and set up Nathan Arnold who saw his right-footed curling effort go a foot over the bar and as play switched to the other end Farman was forced to tip over a deflected Liddle strike for a corner which was headed well wide by Bennett.
An end-to-end start to the second half continued with Rhead coming close to connecting with a Green centre before Hope headed over a Grainger cross.
Ten minutes after the restart Billy Knott replaced Maguire-Drew and shortly afterwards visiting defender Tom Parkes saw yellow after upending Green. The resultant free-kick, taken by Knott, ended with Raggett straying into an offside position.
Green was then denied by keeper Jack Bonham after Rhead had knocked down a deep Sean Long cross and when the resultant corner was played in by Knott the ball somehow ended up in Bonham's gloves as Green tried to get the ball under control six yards from goal.
City's pressure paid off in the 63rd minute and it was that man again - ALEX WOODYARD - who was the man with the clinical touch. Released by Rhead, Woodyard's burst from midfield ended up with him sliding the ball neatly past the advancing Bonham for his second of the afternoon.
Two minutes after the restart Long set Green free and after he turned Parkes he was crudely brought down as he bore down on goal. Referee Ilderton was up with play and, after awarding the Imps a penalty, dismissed the Carlisle man. Up stepped MATT RHEAD to slot home from the spot.
Carlisle's response saw Nicky Adams, Sam Cosgrove and Shaun Miller replace Liddle, Hope and Bennett and a couple of minutes later Sincil Bank rose as one as Rhead left the pitch to be replaced by Ollie Palmer.
A third and final City switch saw Harry Anderson come on for the highly impressive Green and a minute later, with 15 left on the clock, Lambe pulled one back for the visitors as he somehow netted from a very tight angle following a chipped ball into the box.
City looked for a quick response and after Anderson had roasted Jones on the right, his cross was fired over first time by fellow substitute Knott.
The visitors were down to nine men in the 87th minute as Cosgrove was off the pitch having treatment to a cut head and the Imps made the most of the two man advantage as, after Long and Anderson had combined on the right, BILLY KNOTT curled home superbly to make it 4-1.
Knott and Palmer then combined before the latter was crowded out as he prepared to pull the trigger and a minute into five added on, Tom Miller had a cross blocked for a corner which came to nothing.
Miller was called into action at the other end as he cleared a Long centre out for a corner under pressure from Arnold. City then safely saw out the remainder of the game to secure an excellent first win back in the EFL.
FT: IMPS 4 CARLISLE 1
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Sean LONG
5 Luke WATERFALL
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
14 Jordan MAGUIRE-DREW
16 Michael BOSTWICK
23 Neal EARDLEY
25 Sean RAGGETT
28 Nathan ARNOLD
30 Alex WOODYARD
3 Sam HABERGHAM
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE
8 Ollie PALMER (for RHEAD 70)
11 Billy KNOTT (for MAGUIRE-DREW 56)
15 Rob DICKIE
26 Harry ANDERSON (for GREEN 74)
21 Josh VICKERS
GOALS: WOODYARD (31, 63) , RHEAD (67 pen), KNOTT (87)
1 Jack BONHAM
2 Tom MILLER
3 Danny GRAINGER
5 Gary LIDDLE
6 Tom PARKES
8 Mike JONES
9 Hallam HOPE
11 Jamie DEVITT
14 Richie BENNETT
16 Mark ELLIS
19 Reggie LAMBE
4 Luke JOYCE
7 Jason KENNEDY
10 Nicky ADAMS (for LIDDLE 68)
15 Sam COSGROVE (for HOPE 68)
17 James BROWN
20 Shaun MILLER (for BENNETT 68)
23 Shamal GEORGE
GOAL: LAMBE (75)
BOOKINGS: BENNETT (45+3), PARKES (57)
SENDING OFF: PARKES (67)
REFEREE: Eddie Ilderton
ASSISTANTS: Joe Clark & Michael D'Aguilar
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Alfie Greenwood
ATTENDANCE: 8,345 (616 visiting supporters)