The points were shared on the opening day between the Imps and Exeter as both sides played out a 1-1 draw in an entertaining affair. Sam Nombe opened the scoring in the first half before Tom Hopper equalised with a wonderfully guided header.
The support from both sets of supporters this afternoon was fantastic which helped generate a great atmosphere at LNER Stadium as Sky Bet League One football returned.
The game took a while to settle with both sides looking to get the ball down and play in the early stages, but it was the away side who had the first chance in the 8th minute. A deep corner was met at the back post by Pierce Sweeney, but he couldn’t guide his header on target.
City threatened on the right-hand side as Paudie O’Connor and TJ Eyoma linked up well to set Hakeeb Adelakun away, but Exeter cleared the danger.
The opening goal arrived in the 14th minute of the match through centre forward Sam Nombe. The number ten capitalised on a through ball from Timothee Dieng before finishing calmly past Carl Rushworth.
Exeter almost doubled their lead two minutes later as Jevani Brown curled a ball into the penalty area, but Nombe couldn’t quite get a toe to the ball.
The Imps’ first opportunity of the game arrived through Lasse Sorensen in the 17th minute. The Danish midfielder picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and hit a rasping drive which just flew past the post.
Lincoln worked the ball well down the right-hand side again with Adelakun sprinting down the wing before he passed the ball into the penalty area, but it just evaded Tom Hopper and the defence cleared.
Another half chance arrived for the Imps in the 25th minute as a mazy run from Max Sanders led to a cross which took a deflection off an Exeter defender, but unfortunately for the home side, the ball dropped kindly for Scott Brown and the danger was overted.
The chances continued to arrive for Lincoln City who were much improved after going a goal down. A well worked corner from Jamie Robson dropped for Tashan Oakley-Boothe, but he and Regan Poole got in each other’s way before Adelakun sliced wide.
The first booking of the game arrived just after the half hour mark. Smart work from Sorensen enabled Anthony Scully to breeze past his man, and Josh Key dragged him back for a straight forward booking.
Exeter City were still dangerous when breaking forward as Jevani Brown tried an audacious left-footed lob from 20 yards which dropped just over Rushworth’s cross bar.
The home side had what looked to be a strong penalty shout in the 36th minute of the game. Scully and Adelakun played a neat one-two with each other, and the Irishman appeared to have his shirt pulled, but the referee waved away the appeals.
All sides of the ground stood up to applaud lifelong Imps supporter Dave Pickwell in the 37th minute who is sadly no longer with us. The thoughts of everyone at Lincoln City FC are with Dave’s family at this difficult time.
Another half chance arrived for City as Scully and Robson linked up well before the full back’s cross was put behind for a corner which was cleared. The next chance arrived for Oakley-Boothe who whipped a shot towards goal from distance, but it flew wide.
Rushworth was calm whenever called upon this afternoon as he confidently claimed a number of crosses before the half time whistle blew.
Half time – Imps 0-1 Exeter City
The away team started the second half quickly with a couple of chances through Nombe, but the Imps managed to clear their lines on both occasions.
Lincoln City grabbed their leveller in the 49th minute through captain Tom Hopper, and it was a stunning header. Adelakun whipped a terrific ball into the box and the Imps’ number nine guided a beautiful lofted header into the far corner to make it 1-1.
Exeter came close to retaking the lead shortly after the equaliser as Paudie O’Connor produced a stunning last-ditch tackle to prevent a certain goal before Rushforth dived down well to his left to prevent a goal-bound effort Coley.
Lincoln were the next to threaten as Sanders drove forward with the ball before passing to Adelakun which led to a bit of a scramble in the box, but the City winger could only fire wide under pressure from the visitors.
Dieng picked up the second booking of the game by pulling back Oakley-Boothe as City pressed forward. Ted Bishop was Lincoln’s first substitute to enter the field as he replaced Oakley-Boothe just after the hour mark.
The Imps continued to attack and were inches away from a second goal through Scully. Hopper showed great strength to hold off his man before flicking the ball forward to Adelakun who curled a fantastic cross towards the back post, but Scully couldn’t guide his half volley on target.
The home side had their tails up as the crowd upped the atmosphere roaring on their team. Sorensen was covering plenty of ground as he chased down the opposition to win the wall back on numerous occasions before receiving rapturous applauds from the City faithful.
Poole was rock solid in defence as he made a couple of crucial clearances to stop Exeter from breaking through the lines.
The game then entered a quiet period with both sides searching for that winning goal. Chris Maguire entered proceedings in the 85th minute.
Lincoln had a huge chance to win the match in the 89th minute. Maguire played a neat reverse pass to Hopper who played in Robson. The Scottish full back then pulled the ball back across goal but Scott Brown got down well to prevent Scully from tapping the ball into the goal from close range.
Scully then played a lofted ball through to Maguire who cut inside from distance and let fly towards goal, but the ball flew just over the bar.
City looked the most likely to grab a late winner but the points were shared in the end.
Full time – Imps 1-1 Exeter City
Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Bishop 62’)
Tom Hopper ©
Hakeeb Adelakun (Maguire 85’)
Goals – Hopper 49’
Bookings – Sorensen 90’
Exeter City XI
Sam Nombe (Jay 73’)
Josh Coley (Kite 68’)
Pierce Sweeney ©
Harry Lee (GK)
Goals – Nombe 14’
Bookings – Key 32’, Dieng 58’
Referee – Andy Haines
Assistants– Mark Jones and Paul Stonier
Fourth official – Elliott Swallow
Attendance – 8,162 (579 visitors)