Lincoln City recorded their second win of the season and their first at home in a tight 1-0 victory against early season strugglers Barnet on Saturday.
Ben Hutchinson scored the only goal of the game which came from a penalty in the first half and ensured Lincoln fans went away from Sincil Bank mildly satisfied.
Manager Chris Sutton decided to make two changes from the team that went down 2-1 away to Gillingham last weekend. Ian Pearce continued to have problems with his back throughout the week and he was replaced by Paul Green in the centre of defence.
He was partnered by captain Adam Watts, with Joe Anderson and Cian Hughton playing left and right back respectively. Delroy Facey started last Saturday but he also dropped to the bench with Sutton favouring a 4-4-2 formation with Drewe Broughton playing alongside Ben Hutchinson.
Barnet boss Mark Stimson unlike the Imps gaffer didn’t feel the need to change his starting eleven after they recorded their first win of the season beating Cheltenham 3-1 at home.
Both sides had little luck in the opening stages of the game but it was Celtic loanee Hutchinson who would put City in front on 16 minutes.
It was Albert Jarrett who provided an inviting cross from Broughton to attack before he was taken down by Joe Devera giving referee Peter Quinn no choice but to point to the spot.
Hutchinson stepped up to the mark and placed his shot with his right foot that went to the left of ‘keeper Jake Cole. Minutes later Mustapha Carayol played a tantalising cross into the box but no one was on hand to put Lincoln 2-0 up.
Half way through the first half wingers Carayol and Jarrett swapped sides, with them playing right and left accordingly. Lincoln’s next best chance of the first half came when Jarrett played a long ball intended for Hutchinson but it missed the striker and fell to Carayol, who proceeded to make his way into the Bees’ box but could only fire his shot at Cole.
The Bees showed glimpses of why they were nearly relegated last season, aimless free-kicks from Ricky Holmes and the over utilisation of forwards leaving no link to midfield. On 36 minutes Lincoln fans were left silent as Watts went down, and after he sustained a broken leg last season against Grimsby there were raised fears amongst the City faithful, but thankfully he ran back onto the pitch unharmed.
Barnet fans were brought to their feet with only three minutes left of the first half after left-back Jordan Parkes picked up the ball unmarked and struck a 30 yard effort that forced City ‘keeper Joe Anyon to make an acrobatic save.
Half Time: Imps 1 Barnet 0
Sutton obviously felt satisfied with his side’s performance as his team emerged from the tunnel with no changes evident. Stimson allowed his Barnet side some breathing space as his team also restarted unscathed.
Early on in the second half Lincoln had two chances to further their lead. Firstly through a Carayol cross that couldn’t find a red and white shirt but then secondly when Keltie drilled a shot that went inches wide of Cole’s goal. As the play became more intensive so did the tackles, Mark Byrne found out the painful way after a somewhat strong tackle from Keltie.
Carayol admitted after last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Gillingham that he was to blame. The Gambian-born winger didn’t really show any signs of improvement especially in the second half where in one instance he just about made his way to the Barnet penalty area before falling to the ground.
Sutton decided to alter proceedings on the 65th minute as he made two substitutions sending on Facey and Scott Kerr who too the respective positions of Broughton and Keltie.
There was almost an instant reaction as substitute Facey bundled down the left flank before cutting inside and playing an acute ball to Jarrett who had his strong effort blocked. Barnet boss Stimson decided to show his hand and substituted Ricky Holmes for Glenn Poole in a like-for-like switch.
With 15 minutes remaining Lincoln had yet another opportunity to increase their one goal advantage. Hutchinson exchanged passes with Clapham before the Celtic loanee eventually passed to Carayol, who continued his poor afternoon striking a weak shot that never looked like troubling Cole in the Barnet net.
The City faithful were left incensed moments later when referee Quinn gave a dubious foul against Lincoln for a Hutchinson challenge on Daniel Leach.
Entering the final ten minutes and some hesitant play from Kerr allowed the ball to find itself at the feet of Phil Leach, who hit a swerving effort from 25 yards that looked to be heading towards the top corner, but once again Anyon was on hand to produce a fine save.
Lincoln were forced to stave off some late pressure from Barnet but Sutton’s men kept their heads and ensured they recorded their first home win of the new campaign which leaves them in 15th position.
Full Time: Imps 1 Barnet 0
The Linc’s Man of the Match: Ben Hutchinson – The striker on-loan from Celtic looked assured up front and his confidence certainly looks to be building after scoring twice in two games for City.
Attendance: 2,884 (145 Barnet fans)Tweet