The Imps got back to winning ways after beating Forest Green Rovers at Sincil Bank this afternoon and maintain their spot at the summit of Skybet League Two.
John Akinde netted City’s first goal within the opening ten minutes of the game, but Rovers levelled through Reece Brown shortly after, but in the second half Kellan Gordon netted after coming on from the bench to ensure Danny Cowley’s men picked up the three points on a brisk November afternoon in Lincolnshire.
City made one change to the starting line up from the side who were defeated at Colchester United as club captain returned to the side following his injury layoff with Shay McCartan taking a place on the bench.
Following a poignant minute where supporters, officials and players of both sides remembered those who sacrificed their lives in the first World War, also thoughts were with those affected by the helicopter crash outside Leicester City’s King Power Stadium last weekend.
The game started at a pace with City almost constantly on the front foot and the backing given to the home side only spurred them on and within the opening few minutes, Bruno Andrade got the better of Carl Winchester to win a corner and although Forest Green were able to clear their lines, the next opportunity was pounced on in some style. With just eight minutes gone, JOHN AKINDE chased a deep ball into the heart of the Rover’s defence and despite the best efforts of Rovers’ Robert Sanchez haring off his line to close down the striker, Akinde showed great composure to lift the ball over the ‘keeper and into the net. The striker scoring City’s 4000th football league goal scored at home.
However, the away side were to hit back within four minutes when full back Joseph Mills broke free down the right and rattled in a low cross which Josh Vickers did very well to palm away, but the ball fell to Reece Brown who smashed home the rebound.
Dayle Grubb tried to hit the target from distance after the visitors won a free kick some 25 yards from goal, the ball whistled wide of target with Vickers confidently covering his post.
After a spell of possession from the visitors without much of a threat to the Imps’ goal, Andrade played a delightful ball to the overlapping Harry Toffolo down the left who won a corner, the City number eleven whipped the ball into the box and it almost evaded everyone to nestle into the goal but Paul Digby somehow managed to hook it clear over his head. Frecklington was the next one to push onas he tried a curling effort with the outside of his right boot which Sanchez had to stop with City in the ascendency again. Andrade then sliced an effort off target after a clever free kick from Michael O’Connor into the right channel had completely fooled the visiting defence.
The intensity of the game showed no signs of stopping as Nathan McGinley almost created a scoring opportunity but James Wilson cleared his lines at the back post, Rovers then had a chance as Brown lashed a shot high and wide from inside the area as the ebb and flow of the game kept the supporters in the stadium captivated.
The game had settled into something of a chess match, both sides looking to get the better of the small margins as no quarter was given in any area of the pitch but Brown looked to send the visitors into the lead at the break as he let fly from outside the box only to see the ball rattle the crossbar and rebound to safety.
The Imps 1 Forest Green Rovers 1
City pressed high up the field from the restart and were the first of the two sides to threaten to add to the scoreline, a wonderful link down the left between Andrade and Toffolo left the latter to cross and Tom Pett kept the ball moving to Frecklington but the skipper couldn’t keep his effort underneath the crossbar. Akinde then won a tussle with McGinley to feed Pett to cross but Rovers cleared the danger with The Imps getting in behind the defence once again.
Rovers settled down somewhat to quell the threat that City possessed for a short period, but they possessed little threat of their own in front of The Imps’ goal as the game reverted to being a really tight and tense encounter.
Shay McCartan was introduced for Frecklington with just under an hour gone as they looked to unlock the door and nudge themselves back into the lead. But the visitors were the ones knocking on the door with Theo Archibald making a purposeful dash into the City half, however, the defence were equal to his attempts. Lloyd James hit a tame effort from the edge of the area and showed his frustrations to his teammates as they couldn’t find space being tightly marked by Bostwick, Shackell and company.
The home fans continued their support of the Imps despite chances being few and far between, the persistence of City paid off as Kellan Gordon coming on for Anderson netted his first goal in an Imps’ shirt within a minute of his introduction. McCartan broke into the Rovers box on the left and with Sanchez looking to close the angle in case of a shot, the Northern Irishman looked up to square for GORDON to slide home.
Forest Green try as they might couldn’t breach the City defence for a second time, Vickers kept out a wicked effort from Grubb but couldn’t hold onto the ball but Bostwick was there in typical fashion to hook clear the danger with Reid in close attendance.
Shackell almost set Matt Green free for a third City goal but a timely challenge from Winchester halted his progress, but before the Rovers full back thought he’d run away with possession the City sub raced back to make a challenge of his own to win back possession and the Imps’ faithful raised to their feet as one in applause for the effort and application shown by the number 10.
They were on their feet once again when the final whistle went following six minutes of stoppage time, with The Imps maintaining their two point gap at the top of the table.
The Imps 2 Forest Green Rovers 1
1 Josh VICKERS
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
7 Tom PETT
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
15 James WILSON
16 Michael BOSTWICK
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON (71’ for Anderson)
6 Scott WHARTON
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN (81’ for Akinde)
17 Shay McCARTAN (58’ for Frecklington)
18 Bernard MENSAH
GOAL: Akinde 8’ Gordon 72’
Booked: Anderson 47’ Andrade 77’
Forest Green Rovers
1 Robert SANCHEZ
4 Lloyd JAMES
7 Carl WINCHESTER
8 Dayle GRUBB
10 Reece BROWN
14 Tahvon CAMPBELL
16 Gavin GUNNING
18 Theo ARCHIBALD
19 Nathan McGINLEY
20 Paul DIGBY
23 Joseph MILLS
13 James MONTGOMERY
6 Farrend RAWSON
11 George WILLIAMS (85’ for Archibald)
17 Isaac PEARCE (87’ for Grubb)
21 Matt WORTHINGTON
22 Ben MORRIS
26 Reuben REID (75’ for Campbell)
Goal: Brown 12’
Booked: Gunning 67’
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Assistants: Alan Clayton & Wade Smith
4th Official: Nick Hopton
Attendance: 8,542 (119 Forest Green Supporters)