The Imps got back to winning ways at Sincil Bank, defeating a dogged and determined Crewe Alexandra.
Tom Pett came off the bench to score the winner on a cold autumnal afternoon in Lincolnshire. Pett scored with almost his first touch of the ball just 90 seconds after coming off the bench to seal three points for City.
City were on the attack right from the kick off, creating an early crossing opportunity within a minute of the game getting underway Bruno Andrade drifting the ball into the box, it was inches too high for John Akinde but it was an indication of the intent from The Imps.
The home side kept up the early pressure throughout the opening ten minutes of the game while the visitors stood firm, when they did get the ball the high press of the City midfield was limiting them getting out of their own half with only long balls aimed towards the forward runs of Jordan Bowery giving them some sort of outlet.
However, as the game progressed Crewe were to start to get their foot on the ball a little more, showing more composure than in the earlier exchanges although they couldn’t breach the City backline as the game grew more intriguing by the minute with both sides still trying to gain the advantage.
Chances continued to be at a premium as much of the game was being played out in the middle third of the pitch and possession changed hands relatively frequently. The home fans began to turn up the volume urging their team forward and it did spur on City, Michael O’Connor made a determined burst into opposition territory, winning the ball back from Perry Ng and crossing for Akinde who took a touch before trying a swivelling volley which whistled over the top of Ben Garrett’s goal. A neat link between Harry Anderson and Neal Eardley resulted in the latter curling a dangerous low ball into the box, Akinde was in the box sliding in but George Ray just got there ahead of The Imps’ leading goalscorer. The home side were slowly turning the screw, gaining possession higher up the pitch and making inroads towards the Crewe goal although Garratt wasn’t tested the signs were increasingly promising.
The Imps were then denied in spectacular fashion by Garratt, a dangerous ball was whipped in from the right by O’Connor and inadvertently Chris Porter headed the ball back towards his own goal, Anderson read it before anyone else and lunged in to poke the ball goalwards but somehow the Crewe ‘keeper got in the way to keep the scores level at the break.
The Imps 0 Crewe Alexandra 0
Crewe started the second half brightly, Callum Ainley almost getting onto a long ball played beyond the City defence, but an alert Josh Vickers raced off his line to grasp possession. The Imps were to then test the awareness of Garratt as Eardley clipped a ball down the line towards McCartan who turned it goalwards but the Crewe ‘keeper was equal to it.
Tom Pett came on for Harry Anderson and made an immediate impact. Good work from Akinde out on the right led to him feeding the ball to McCartan who delivered a cross into the box, Akinde won his aerial battle, flicking back into the danger zone, Lee Frecklington won the second ball and nodded it into the path of PETT who smashed the ball low and true, Garratt got a strong hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.
Crewe pressed high and quickly as they looked to level the score, Charlie Kirk lashing a low effort on target which Vickers did very well to save, low to his right-hand side.
Matt Green came on for Akinde just after the hour mark and he was involved as The Imps pressed for a second goal, Green nicked the ball in the middle of the field and set Bruno Andrade free down the left, his low centre back towards Green just cut out as the number ten shaped to shoot. Kirk sneaked free at the back post to sidefoot a volley on target for the visitors and almost immediately back up the other end Andrade warmed the palms of Garratt.
City were growing in confidence and Andrade in particular looked like he was enjoying himself out wide on the left, after some neat interplay between Pett, Frecklington and Harry Toffolo, Andrade whipped in a dangerous inswinging cross that Green lunged at and was inches away from turning home, Garratt in the visitors goal was almost rooted to the spot as the ball just whipped past the far post.
The next attack was to give City the chance to double their lead, Andrade got goalside of Kevin O’Connor and the visiting number 33 hauled down the winger, Frecklington took the penalty but Garratt guessed right, saving low to his left. Crewe took heart from the let off and forced Vickers into a save from a Ray header at the back post as they pressed for a late equaliser.
The Imps though showed usual determination and resilience to stave off the threat of the visiting side through five minutes of additional time to stay on top of Skybet League Two.
The Imps 1 Crewe Alexandra 0
1 Josh VICKERS
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON
6 Scott WHARTON
7 Tom PETT (56’ for Anderson)
9 Matt RHEAD (77’ for McCartan)
10 Matt GREEN (65’ for Akinde)
18 Bernard MENSAH
Booking: Frecklington 26’
GOAL: Pett 58’
1 Ben GARRETT
2 Perry NG
5 George RAY
7 Chris PORTER
8 James JONES
10 Jordan BOWERY
11 Callum AINLEY
15 Ryan WINTLE
20 Charlie KIRK
30 Corey WHELAN
33 Kevin O’CONNOR
13 Dave RICHARDS
3 Hardy PICKERING (72’ for Jones)
6 Michael RAYNES
9 Shaun MILLER
14 Alex NICHOLLS (86’ for O’Connor)
21 Oliver FINNEY (86’ for Porter)
29 Nicky HUNT
Booking: Ng 38’
Referee: Paul Marsden
Assistants: Anthony Moore & Stephen Wade
4th Official : Robert Atkin
Attendance: 8,718 (173 Crewe Supporters)