Matt Rhead was the match winner for The Imps who made it five wins on the spin at home in all competitions, the striker opened the scoring in the first half but Christian Doidge replied for Forest Green. However, in the second half it was to be Rhead again who scored what proved to be the winner meaning City see out 2017 in the top three of SkyBet League Two.

City started the game unchanged following the Boxing Day home win over Stevenage and within a minute of kick off, one of the scorers from the aforementioned home win nearly did it again. Alex Woodyard won possession back out on the left flank, Harry Anderson skipped into the box and hit a low shot across the face of goal which was almost turned home by Forest Green defender Mark Roberts but Bradley Collins was just in the right place to block.

Daniel Wishart had the first foray forward for the visitors after being set free down the right, but Rob Dickie cleared his ball into the box at the near post. The Imps broke at pace and Anderson picked up possession on the left, he took a couple of touches before switching play to Neal Eardley who crossed the ball to the back post and MATT RHEAD finished expertly.  City continued to probe with Matt Green tussling with Emmanuel Monthe at the back for the visitors, while Anderson’s pace caused constant problems.

Green took possession on halfway before striding forward with five opponents in close proximity, he fed Rhead who looked up and shot but Bradley Collins got down quickly to save the goalbound effort. Rovers grew into the game as the half wore on without really troubling Josh Vickers’ goal, however Christian Doidge thrashed the first chance that was to go their way in for the equaliser at the near post after collecting Lee Collins’ pass.

Reece Brown scuffed a shot wide of target as Rovers tried to get ahead, after which Green and Monthe continued their battle up the other end of the field. Nathan Arnold and Anderson switched flanks with the latter almost creating another chance for Green after outpacing Scott Laird, but Collins stepped in to claim the cross. Anderson then tested Collins after cutting in from the left, but once again the visiting stopper was in the right place to save.

The Imps were dominating things going into the half time break and following a wonderful team move started by Woodyard, Rhead fed Green who broke free before hitting a shot towards the near post which Collins saved and within moments the ‘keeper again denied City’s number ten as Rovers were thankful for the performance of their ‘keeper in keeping the score level at the break.

Half Time

The Imps 1 Forest Green 1

Anderson continued to be a problem for the Rovers defence into the second half, he created the first half chance for The Imps after a typical lung-busting run down the flank, his centre was controlled by Green whose shot on the turn was just off target.

Green did well to create space for a shooting chance, his touch took him away from Monthe, the shot from the striker though was saved by Collins. Laird fired wide of goal for the visitors from just outside the box as the game opened up somewhat. But much like the first half, it was to be The Imps who were to draw first blood.  Collins made a poor clearance and Anderson was on it like a flash, crossing into the box and at the back post once again was RHEAD, cool, calm and collected to slot home.

Sean Raggett was marshaling Doidge giving him no sight of goal, the away side weren’t able to breach the City backline and the next chance of the game was to go the way of The Imps, sub Ollie Palmer linked with Green before measuring a curler towards the bottom corner but Collins made a fantastic save, diving full stretch to his left to palm the ball away. Palmer was causing problems and after winning a free kick out wide on the right, he got onto the end of an Eardley free kick but his header drifted off target.

With the game going into the final ten minutes, Raggett headed a corner just wide of goal as the game as The Imps attempted to put the game out of reach of the visitors, urged on by almost 9,000 supporters. The Norwich loanee then put in what turned out to be a vital block, diving in at the feet of Brown who was just about to fire goalwards from around 12 yards.  Josh Vickers had been relatively quiet for most of the second half made an even more crucial intervention, Doidge turned and hit a crisp half volley towards the bottom right corner, which The Imps’ custodian somehow kept out of goal, and it brought a resounding ovation from the home supporters and it proved to be vital. 

Full Time

The Imps 2 Forest Green Rovers 1

The Imps

21       Josh VICKERS

3          Sam HABERGHAM

9          Matt RHEAD

10       Matt GREEN

15       Rob DICKIE

16       Michael BOSTWICK

23       Neal EARDLEY

25       Sean RAGGETT

26       Harry ANDERSON

28       Nathan ARNOLD

30       Alex WOODYARD


1          Paul FARMAN

2          Sean LONG

4          Elliott WHITEHOUSE (for Green 76’)

5          Luke WATERFALL (for Arnold 90’)

7          Josh GINNELLY

8          Ollie PALMER (for Rhead 72’)

32       Cameron STEWART

GOAL: Rhead 8’, 57’

Booking: Bostwick 62’

Forest Green Rovers

1          Bradley COLLINS

3          Scott LAIRD

5          Lee COLLINS

6          Emmanuel MONTHE

9          Christian DOIDGE

10       Reece BROWN

15       Charlie COOPER

17       Daniel WISHART

21       Mark ROBERTS

33       Luke JAMES

34       Isaiah OSBOURNE


24       Harry PICKERING

7          Keanu MARSH-BROWN (for Wishart 64’)

11       Omar BUGIEL

12       Jordan SIMPSON

16       Jack FITZWATER (for Brown 90’)

18       Callum EVANS

35       Jordan STEVENS (for James 71’)

Goal: Doidge 24’

Booking: Collins 26’


Referee: M Coy

Assistants: R Bartlett & A Newbold


Attendance: 8,964 (86 Forest Green Supporters)