CIty defeated Newport to hoist themselves back within three points of third place Notts County after a confident display against fellow promotion chasers, Newport County. Matt Rhead and Matt Green scored either side of a goal for the visitors from Padraig Amond, before sub, Ollie Palmer put the gloss on a good performance from Danny Cowley's men.
City were out of the traps quickly as Harry Anderson had the first shot of game with just over a minute gone, but his effort was blocked, the resulting corner brought a melee in the box and the away side just managed to hack the ball clear as The Imps kept the pressure firmly on. A second successive corner was just grasped by Joe Day in the Newport goal after Luke Waterfall headed it back across goal from the back post.
The visitors though were straight back up the opposite end of the field and a forceful attack ended with Matt Dolan lashing a shot just wide of Paul Farman’s goal. Ben Tozer then tried for County but his effort was almost a mirror image of his teammate’s effort a moment earlier, going off target.
City were probing down the right, Danny Rowe dancing left and right, Dan Butler mesmerized by Rowe’s footwork and couldn’t stop the cross but Harry Anderson couldn’t get there. The ball was only half cleared to Alex Woodyard who supplied the ammunition for Luke Waterfall at the back post, he headed back across to Matt Rhead but his shot was saved by Day. However, the striker was not denied seconds later. Matt Green foraged down the right channel before clipping a tempting cross for RHEAD who had all the time in the world to head home.
The visitors pushed for an equaliser, led by their skipper Joss Labadie, who marauded forward from a central position, after a run deep into the City half he let fly but his low daisycutter was grasped at the second attempt by Farman. Rhead almost became creator as he completely fooled Butler, but his cross to Rowe was defended well by the visitors.
The visitors equalized just after the half hour mark, a well struck shot from Dolan from outside the box was saved well by Farman but the rebound dropped to Padraig Amond who finished with aplomb. Amond was given the perfect opportunity to put County in the lead just ahead of the break, a shot again from Dolan was the catalyst as it was only half blocked and squeezed through to the striker but Farman was quick off his line to dive at the feet of the visiting number nine to make the vital stop.
City won a late corner off the head of Tozer, the ball was swung in by Sam Habergham and it landed square on the head of Michael Bostwick whose header was arrowing towards goal but Green found himself in the way, the visitors were thankful for the block and cleared to keep the scores level at the break.
The Imps 1 Newport County 1
Matt Green won an early corner for City within a minute of the restart, but they couldn’t force Day into a save but it was a positive start to the second half. That positivity flowed through the side and just five minutes later it was no more evident when Rhead held up play, holding off his marker and dinked a fantastic ball into the path of GREEN who got ahead of Tozer to slam home his 9th league goal of the season.
Green caused confusion yet again, forcing Mickey Demetriou into a mistake and Habergham ran onto the ball but he was fouled, Eardley crossed but Day claimed it in the box. Green’s hassling of Demetriou continued and he set Woodyard free down the right but his cross was blocked for a corner. The flag kick was only half cleared to Lee Frecklington but he couldn’t keep it down and it flew over the top with City pressing for a third.
County slowly started getting themselves back in the game, growing stronger by the minute and they thought they’d missed a guilt edged opportunity when Shawn McCoulsky shot wide from close range but the flag was up for offside against the sub, but it was a warning the opposition were far from out of the game.
That all changed though just after Waterfall had a header cleared off the line by Wilmott as sub, OLLIE PALMER made sure that close call didn’t matter as he hit a low drive which cannoned off the left hand upright and into the goal just 90 seconds after coming off the bench. Frecklington burst into the box on the right and crossed, the ball was almost fortuitously turned home off Anderson who got in the way of a clearance but it went agonisingly wide as The Imps hunted for a fourth goal.
County continued to look for a late way back into the game, but it wasn’t to be as City held out for a vital three points against one of their playoff rivals.
The Imps 3 Newport County 1
1 Paul FARMAN
3 Sam HABERGHAM
5 Luke WATERFALL
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
16 Michael BOSTWICK
19 Lee FRECKLINGTON
23 Neal EARDLEY
24 Danny ROWE
26 Harry ANDERSON
30 Alex WOODYARD
31 Richard WALTON
2 Sean LONG
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE
8 Ollie PALMER (72’ for Green)
14 Jordan WILLIAMS (79’ for Rowe)
15 James WILSON (61’ for Rhead)
32 Cameron STEWART
GOAL: Rhead 13’ Green 51’ Palmer 74’
Booking: Eardley 25’ Palmer 90'
1 Joe DAY
3 Dan BUTLER
4 Joss LABADIE
6 Ben WHITE
7 Robbie WILMOTT
8 Matt DOLAN
9 Padraig AMOND
10 Frank NOUBLE
12 Ben TOZER
17 Scot BENNETT
28 Mickey DEMETRIOU
30 James BITTNER
15 Shawn McCOULSKY (67’ for Nouble)
19 Tyler REID
22 Emmanuel OSADEBE
31 Josh SHEEHAN (80’ for Demetriou)
39 Paul HAYES (80’ for Amond)
45 Aaron Collins
Booked: Wilmott 12’ Butler 39’
Goal: Amond 32’
Referee: Scott Oldham
Assistants: Thomas Harty & Ken Haycock
Attendance: 7,567 (76 County supporters)