REPORT FROM LINCOLN SITE
City stand-in boss Gary Simpson made three changes to the side that started at Southend United the previous weekend for this Nationwide League Division Three encounter between the Imps and Mansfield Town at Field Mill.
Of the three changes, one was enforced. With striker Gary Fletcher picking up an injury in training on Friday he was replaced by Dene Cropper whilst the other changes saw loanee Marcus Richardson come in for Niall McNamara and Mark Bailey replace Matt Bloomer. McNamara and Bloomer both found themselves on the bench where they were joined by fit-again Richard Liburd, Ben Sedgemore and Allan Pearce.
The Imps were looking for a quick response to the FA Cup Second Round exit at Southend United but up against them were a Mansfield side who going into the game were the division's top scorers with 46 goals coming from their opening 20 games.
It was a blustery afternoon as the home side got the game underway with the Imps attacking the end behind which sat a healthy band of travelling supporters.
It was a fast and frenetic start to the game with City winning a succession of throw-ins in the opening couple of minutes with Peter Gain volleying wide after one of them was only half-cleared by the Stags' defence.
Midfielder RICHARD BUTCHER went one better though when, in the third minute, he pulled the trigger from fully 30 yards out. Home goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington was a virtual spectator as Butcher's superb drive brought the City contingent to their feet with the ball whistling past the Mansfield number one before nestling in the top corner of the net.
The Stags responded by going on the attack and Alan Marriott was forced to pull off a fine save from Tom Curtis' powerful shot from the edge of the box whilst the Imps' defence easily dealt with two Mansfield corners as they looked to get themselves back into the match.
At the other end, good work from Dene Cropper, playing his first City match for over two months, saw him win a free-kick on the right but Paul Mayo's centre was easily claimed by Pilkington between the Stags' sticks.
Simon Yeo sent a right-footed effort straight at Pilkington after he latched on to Peter Gain's throughball as the Imps, with the wind at their backs, pressed again.
Referee Colin Webster was forced to have a quick word with Paul Morgan was penalised for a tug on Liam Lawrence when it looked as thought he City skipper had won possession fairly whilst the offside flag denied Iyseden Christie shortly afterwards.
Former City trialist Junior Mendes tested Alan Marriott from 18 yards just after the quarter hour mark with City responding through Paul Mayo who swung in a deep free-kick which forced Pilkington to tip the ball behind when it looked as though the ball was sailing well behind for a goal kick. Mayo's resultant flag-kick came to nothing though but a minute later, and midway through the opening period, he got another chance when good play between Peter Gain and goalscorer Butcher saw the latter force another corner but this one also failed to produce anything of note.
Home defender David Artell, up field for an earlier Mansfield corner, should have done better just after the half-hour mark when he broke clear of the Imps' offside trap to latch on to a Wayne Corden centre only for him to send a weak effort straight into the arms of Alan Marriott.
The home side pressed again shortly afterwards though and when Paul Morgan looked to have repelled a Lee Williamson break, the City captain uncharacteristically lost possession and when Christie broke into the box, he went down under Ben Futcher's challenge with referee Webster wasting no time in giving a penalty.
Futcher picked up a booking for his troubles and although Marriott went the right way, LIAM LAWRENCE saw his spot kick nestle in the net for his eleventh of the season.
Mendes picked up a booking two minutes later after lunging in on Mark Bailey whilst Simon Yeo was denied a run on goal by Adam Eaton only for Mr Webster to deem his block to be fair, much to the consternation of the City bench.
Mr Webster was at the centre of things again two minutes before the break when Gain's challenge on Williamson saw him pick up a booking. The yellow card, however, looked to have been given for dissent with the Tyne & Wear official marching the ball forward ten yards as Williamson miraculously sprang back to his feet to return to the fray.
Appeals for a penalty after a Paul Mayo cross seemed to strike the arm of a home defender were waved away by the busy referee as the first half entered stoppage time and right at the very end of that added time, Simon Yeo crashed an effort into the side netting after Mayo's throw-in was dropped by Stag's 'keeper Pilkington.
HALF-TIME: MANSFIELD TOWN 1 LINCOLN CITY 1
Neither side made any changes during the break so it was a case of as you were as the Imps, now playing into the strong wind, got the second period underway.
The home side forced a corner within the opening 90 seconds with Paul Mayo forced to concede under pressure from Liam Lawrence but City managed to scramble the ball away when Lawrence pumped the ball back into the danger area.
City replied with Simon Yeo going on a great break forward before being upended by Lee Williamson. Although the free-kick came to nothing, this break saw City keep the pressure on the home side and when Mark Bailey's centre was only half-cleared by the Stags' defence, PETER GAIN was on hand to rifle a low left-footed drive through a crowd of people and past Pilkington to give the Imps the lead for a second time.
Gain immediately sprinted to the opposite end of the field where the noisy band of City supporters were dancing around with glee.
Those very supporters then saw play at close range with Mansfield forcing three corners in quick succession and when the third one was cleared, Marcus Richardson released Dene Cropper who saw his cross to Simon Yeo headed behind by Bobby Hassell to ease the pressure.
Simon Yeo picked up a booking 12 minutes into the second half after he was deemed to have kicked the ball away after Mark Bailey felled Wayne Corden. With the Mansfield players, especially Lee Williamson in midfield, going down under every challenge that went in, the Imps would surely have to watch their temperament as things hotted up.
Christie saw a goalbound effort deflected behind by Ben Futcher as, once again, the offside flag stayed down in favour of the home side but fortunately Corden's delivery was poor and the ball went out for a goal kick.
A Corden cross then picked out Christie who beat Futcher in the air only to direct his header well wide of the target and just before the midway point in the second half, good home defending denied Gain a sight of goal as he looked to jink his way into the home box.
Mansfield replied by winning another corner which was easily cleared by Futcher but the Stags pressed again but Futcher was there again to clear the ball forward to Richardson who, via Dene Cropper, saw Butcher force a corner at the other end.
The ball was soon back up in the Imps' defensive third shortly afterwards though with Simon Weaver pulling Christie's shirt and when Corden swung in a deep free-kick, Artell's downward header was well held by Marriott right on the goal line.
The Imps made the first change of the game with 14 minutes on the clock with Dene Cropper receiving a fine reception as he was replaced by Niall McNamara. The home side followed suit with Colin Larkin coming on for Wayne Corden.
Great skill from Peter Gain in the 80th minute saw him outfox Iyseden Christie with the Mansfield striker leaving his foot in on the City midfielder and once tempers had calmed down between the two sets of players, out came the yellow card in the direction of the former Leyton Orient man.
Both sides made a further change with seven minutes on the clock with Neil Mackenzie replacing Adam Eaton for the hosts and Matt Bloomer coming on for Marcus Richardson for the Imps. Bloomer slotted into midfield with Yeo and McNamara forming a front pairing for City.
A corner to City following a number of throw-ins by Mark Bailey saw the home side air their frustrations at the assistant referee and before the kick could be taken David Artell was booked following an off-the-ball incident in the penalty area. A quick thinking steward also had to be on his toes to stop a home supporter entering the field of play.
Tom Curtis dragged an effort well wide with Gary Simpson urging his players forward from the touchlines and when Artell's ball forward sailed over everyone before going out for a goal kick, it gave Marriott the chance to eat up some valuable seconds as the game approached four minutes of stoppage time.
Simon Yeo had a great chance to make it three when he was released by Mark Bailey but some good backtracking by Artell forced Yeo to send his shot against Pilkington, although the resultant corner was a more than satisfactory outcome as the seconds ticked away.
Those seconds duly evaporated as did Mansfield's chances of getting something from the game and it was a happy band of Lincoln followers who cheered the Imps off after watching them pull off a tremendous victory against their local rivals.
FULL-TIME: MANSFIELD TOWN 1 LINCOLN CITY 2
Lincoln City: Alan Marriott, Mark Bailey, Paul Mayo, Ben Futcher, Simon Weaver, Paul Morgan, Peter Gain, Richard Butcher, Dene Cropper, Marcus Richardson, Simon Yeo.
Subs: Niall McNamara (for Cropper 76), Matt Bloomer (for Richardson 83), Allan Pearce, Ben Sedgemore, Richard Liburd.
Bookings: Futcher (34), Gain (43), Yeo (57)
Goals: Butcher (3), Gain (50)
Mansfield Town: Kevin Pilkington, Junior Mendes, Dave Artell, Wayne Corden, Tom Curtis, Lee Williamson, Bobby Hassell, Liam Lawrence, Adam Eaton, Ryhs Day, Iyseden Christie.
Subs: Colin Larkin (for Corden 77), Neil Mackenzie (for Eaton 83), Jason White, Luke Dimech, Craig Disley.
Bookings: Mendes (36), Christie (80), Artell (86)
Goal: Lawrence (34 pen)
Referee: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear)
Assistants: Geoff Law & Kevin Mattocks
Fourth Official: Alan Greaves
Attendance: 5,797 (1,008 City supporters)
Latest | December 2003