City progressed into the third round of the Emirates FA Cup after a deserved victory at Sincil Bank despite the best efforts of a battling Carlisle United.
A goal at either end of the game for The Imps sealed the deal, Matt Rhead opening the scoring within the first minute of the tie before sub John Akinde slid home the second from close range for Danny Cowley’s men.
The Imps made three changes to the team that drew with Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park on Tuesday, Matt Green, Matt Rhead and Lee Frecklington all back into the starting eleven to face The Cumbrians at Sincil Bank.
The game couldn’t have got off to a better start for the home side, Bruno Andrade showing skill down the left to create space for a cross and at the back post was RHEAD to sidefoot home a volley within 30 seconds of the kick off, his 50th goal in Imps colours. The score was almost doubled before five minutes of the game had even passed, Neal Eardley took aim from fully 25 yards to curl a free kick goalwards, Adam Collin scrambled to his right trying to save, he couldn’t get there but the ball just went into the side netting on the wrong side of the post from a City point of view.
Collin denied Green with an acrobatic stop from close range as The Imps threatened to run away with things, but The Cumbrians were to almost equalise when Regan Slater pounced on a deep cross to hit low and hard across goal only to see and hear the ball thwack off the upright and bounce to safety.
The Imps were soon to be pressing ahead into opposition yet again, attacking with pace and intent down both flanks but the Carlisle defenders we able to quell the threat. However, with City dominating possession somewhat and the ball spending an increasing amount of time in the Carlisle half, The Imps looked the more likely to be making the second mark on the scoresheet than the visitors. Chances however were few and far between and The Cumbrians crept back into the game, edging their way further forward and they almost got their reward for their efforts but Josh Vickers, on his 23rd birthday, made a wonderful diving save to tip Richie Bennett’s goal bound effort over the bar.
City were to get themselves back deep into opposition territory very quickly, Andrade pressing high up the pitch closed down an attempted clearance to regain possession. The City number 11 looked up and squared the ball to Harry Anderson who hit a sidefooted effort which had Collin beaten but the ball crept agonisingly past the post and wide.
The Cumbrians had two late chances deep into stoppage time at the end of the first half, after some neat play down their right, the cross was played to the back post where Bennett won the aerial battle, nodding down to Hallam Hope who smashed goalwards but Michael Bostwick blocked bravely, the rebound was hit first time by Mike Jones and it arrowed towards goal but Vickers got two hands on the ball to save.
The Imps 1 Carlisle United 0
Carlisle made a change at the break, introducing Liam McCarron to the action and they immediately pressed higher up the field looking for the equaliser but they couldn’t break through the resolute Imps’ defence. The home fans were backing their charges as the Cumbrians continued to attack, Bennett lashed a shot through a sea of bodies in the City box but it was blocked before Slater then hit one over the bar.
The Imps were inches away from scoring a second goal, lovely interplay around the Carlisle box between Tom Pett and Frecklington set the latter free in the left channel and he whipped in a dangerous cross which was so close to being met by Green but it just flashed past his path as he tried in vain to get the killer touch. Eardley had a shot blocked which took a wicked deflection with Collin already committed to the dive but the ball went wide of goal for a corner from which Frecklington had two bites at the cherry, smashing hard and low on target but both attempts were blocked.
With just over an hour gone, City made a double substitution, on came John Akinde for the goalscorer, Rhead and Shay McCartan replaced Green as The Imps looked to end all hopes of the visitors making into round three.
Collin denied Frecklington with the save of the game, the City skipper smashed a wonderfully executed volley from inside the box which the Carlisle stopper somehow managed to dive to his right to save, with the home side now back into their groove.
Anderson was denied at the last after beating two men to get into the box, with Anthony Gerrard prodding the ball away with the Imps attacker looking to get his shot away.
Akinde did well to win a ball into the box from Toffolo, heading down into the path of Frecklington who swung his right boot at the ball but Gary Liddle timed his interception to perfection, prodding out for a corner. Frecklington was in the thick of the action from that restart, Andrade hitting a low cross which was this time met by the skipper but his sidefooted effort looped over the top leaving him with his head in his hands.
Akinde found his route to goal blocked by Gerrard after the striker was found by Anderson, but he won a corner for City which Michael O’Connor took, Anderson dashed to the near post but his hooked effort went over the top as The Imps looked to finally finish off their resolute opponents.
Bennett smashed a shot off target for the visitors in what was a timely reminder that Carlisle were far from out the tie although the clock was against them as the game went into the final five minutes. But any fears were allayed moments later as City scored a second to seal their place in round three of the Emirates FA Cup.
Andrade found space down the left, looked up and played a fantastic low cross into the heart of the box where AKINDE was making his move and he slid the ball home to the delight of almost everyone in the stadium.
The Imps 2 Carlisle United 0
1 Josh VICKERS
5 Jason SHACKELL
7 Tom PETT
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON
4 Michael O’CONNOR (78’ for Frecklington)
6 Scott WHARTON
17 Shay McCARTAN (63’ for Green)
18 Bernard MENSAH
29 John AKINDE (63’ for Rhead)
GOAL: Rhead 1’ Akinde 86’
30 Adam COLLIN
4 Gary LIDDLE
5 Anthony GERRARD
8 Mike JONES
9 Hallam HOPE
12 Macauley GILLESPHEY
14 Richie BENNETT
15 Regan SLATER
17 Jerry YATES
18 Jack SOWERBY
21 Kelvin ETUHU
29 Louis GRAY
7 Jason KENNEDY
11 George GLENDON
16 Adam CAMPBELL (72’ for Slater)
24 Sam ADEWUSI
27 Liam McCARRON (46’ for Yates)
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Assistants: Joe Simpson & David Plowright
4th Official: Garreth Rhodes
Attendance: 6,438 (228 Carlisle supporters)