The Imps took their biggest away attendance of the season to the Stadium of Light with 3,236 Lincoln fans making the trip to Sunderland. However, it was a disappointing result for the travelling supporters who came home on the back of a 3-1 defeat.
The game against Sunderland was the first league meeting between the sides in over half a century, it was 1961 when the Black Cats last faced Lincoln, with their last home game against the Imps coming in 1960 when the pair couldn’t be separated with the final score ending 2-2.
City’s made two changes to their starting XI from the side which beat Peterborough United 2-1 on New Year’s Day, with Jason Shackell and Jack Payne both coming into the side.
Sunderland AFC: J.McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk, Power, Maguire, Wyke, Gooch, Flanagan, O’Nien, Dobson, Hume.
Substitutes: Burge, C.McLaughlin, McNulty, Watmore, Grigg, Leadbitter, Taylor
It was the home side who were in control in the opening minutes with Chris Maguire proving the first shot of the game. The Scotland international produced a low driven shot just wide of Josh Vickers' right-hand post before Luke O’Nien’s cross was deflected for a corner shortly after.
It was that attacking threat from Maguire which helped give Sunderland the lead as Northern Ireland defender Tom Flanagan produced a towering header from the number seven’s corner, forcing the ball into City’s net to open the scoring.
The Black Cats came close shortly after with the pair linking up again as Maguire provided an impressive ball into the far post, only for Flanagan to knock the ball across goal before it was quickly cleared by Lincoln. However, Sunderland continued to pile on the pressure with Maguire forcing Jason Shackell and Vickers to have a mix up in their own area, allowing Lynden Gooch to quickly react and head home a second for Phil Parkinson’s side.
The attacking intent from the home side continued with Gooch continuing to cause problems for the Lincoln defence. The American international scored his second of the game after chasing down a long ball before simply stroking it past Vickers in a one-on-one.
The Imps were forced to make an early change before half-time with Cian Bolger coming on for an injured Michael Bostwick in the Lincoln backline.
With Sunderland continuing to attack the City goal, Vickers pulled off a superb save for Lincoln in the last few minutes of normal time. The Imps shot-stopper got fingertips to Jordan Willis’ header following an impressive delivery from Maguire.
Half-Time - Sunderland AFC 3 The Imps 0
Lincoln started the second half with another attacking option as striker John Akinde replaced Jack Payne. It was the Lincoln frontman who had the first chance for either side in the second half after Neal Eardley’s delivery landed at his feet. However, Akinde failed to connect with the ball allowing the Sunderland defence to clear quickly.
Jake Hesketh received the first card of the game just after the hour mark for attempting to stop Sunderland’s counterattack from city’s corner. The Black Cats made their first change of the afternoon with Duncan Watmore replacing Maguire who had impressed in the first half.
City worked hard to get one back as Harry Anderson broke into the Sunderland area before beating Denver Hume to the ball. The Imps winger was able to comfortably slot the ball across goal for Tyler Walker to slot past Jon McLaughlin with ease.
The Imps continued to attack with momentum as Jorge Grant played a clever short free-kick to Harry Toffolo who was able to deliver a dangerous ball into the Sunderland box. With a number of City players trying to get something on the end of it, Hesketh was the man who came out on top before having his shot deflected for a corner. Grant's corner was met by Shackell who headed it towards the back post, only for Walker to come close to scoring Lincoln’s second.
With Sunderland seeing less of the possession in the second half, Max Power tried to catch Vickers off guard with a powerful strike from 25-yards out, however, luckily for the Imps, the ball struck the crossbar and went out to safety.
Lincoln fans were introduced to their new signing as Zach Elbouzedi made his debut for the Imps replacing the already booked Hesketh.
Luke O'Nien was the first Sunderland player in the book, receiving a yellow card for handball after trying to stop Toffolo from breaking into The Black Cats' area. Goalscorer Gooch was replaced by Grant Leadbitter shortly after as Sunderland tried to see the game and their lead out.
Full-Time - Sunderland AFC 3 The Imps 1
1 Jon McLAUGHLIN
4 Jordan WILLIS
5 Alim OZTURK
6 Max POWER
7 Chris MAGUIRE
9 Charlie WYKE
11 Lynden GOOCH
12 Tom FLANAGAN
13 Luke O’NIEN
18 George DOBSON
33 Denver HUME
16 Lee BURGE
2 Conor McLAUGHLIN
10 Marc McNULTY
14 Duncan WATMORE (Chris MAGUIRE, 64')
22 Will GRIGG
23 Grant LEADBITTER (Lynden GOOCH, 90')
40 Brandon TAYLOR
GOALS: FLANAGAN 19’, GOOCH 23’, 30’
Booked: O'NIEN 88'
1 Josh VICKERS
3 Harry TOFFOLO
5 Jason SHACKELL
10 Jack PAYNE
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Tyler WALKER
18 Jorge GRANT
19 Joe MORRELL
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
28 Jake HESKETH
21 Grant SMITH
4 Michael O’CONNOR
6 Cian BOLGER (Michael BOSTWICK, 38’)
12 Ellis CHAPMAN
24 Max MELBOURNE
25 Zach ELBOUZEDI (Jake HESKETH, 79')
29 John AKINDE (Jack PAYNE, 45')
GOAL : WALKER 66'
Booked: HESKETH 60'
Referee: Leigh Doughty
Assistants: Geoffery Liddle & Hristo Karaivanov
4th Official: Mark Dwyer
Attendance: 31,748 (3,236 Lincoln Fans)