Lincoln City put a halt to their two game losing streak by picking up a point in a goalless draw at home to an organised Burton Albion team on Tuesday night.
Burton’s Greg Pearson had the best chance of the game in the opening moments but he couldn’t hit the back of the net while Ben Hutchinson had a penalty appeal turned down for City.
Imps manager Chris Sutton, under fire from some City supporters, said he was happy with his team’s performance, which leaves the Imps in 20th position in League Two.
Unsurprisingly, Sutton decided not to start with the side that went down 1-0 to Stevenage the previous Saturday. Jamie Clapham and Mustapha Carayol dropped to the bench, with Drewe Broughton and Delroy Facey regaining their place in the Imps’ starting 11. The tinkering also meant a change in system for the home side, who lined up in a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation.
Paul Peschisolido’s men also went with a 4-4-2 formation, with the prolific Shaun Harrad being surprisingly partnered up front by Greg Pearson, who had reportedly been given a chance to after he had impressed Peschisolido in training.
After just three minutes, Burton created the first opportunity of the match. A long punt forward was misread by Moses Swaibu which let in Greg Pearson. Pearson tried to guide the ball over Joe Anyon but put too much power into his effort and the ball sailed harmlessly over. Soon after City had to rush to block a Harrad effort after Albion took a quick free kick on the edge of the area.
A nervous start for Lincoln was almost made worse when Joe Anyon rushed out of his box to clear but fluffed the ball straight to Pearson. Luckily for the Imps, Pearson couldn’t capitalise on the City keepers’ poor clearance.
Lincoln’s first chance fell to Clark Keltie when a long throw found him ten yards out. His volley however was misguided and weak and watched safely wide by Adam Legzdins in the Burton goal.
The away team came back at the Imps though. Russell Penn pulled a pass back across goal and, after former Spurs midfielder Jacques Maghoma stepped over the ball, John McGrath fired a ferocious shot just to the left of Anyon’s goal. With the half hour mark approaching, McGrath replicated his first attempt by pulling his shot narrowly wide.
Lincoln’s first shot on target came just five minutes from the end of the half, when a counter attack, initiated by Albert Jarrett, resulted in Ben Hutchinson’s long range goalbound effort being parried wide by Legzdins. A minute later, Hutchinson found himself racing against the veteran Darren Moore but referee Pat Miller curiously awarded Burton a free kick—the contest between the two was just heating up. Hutchinson could half have given the home side the lead at the end of the half after losing Moore in the area, but he shot tamely at the away goalkeeper.
Half time came when the Imps were in the ascendency. But for the majority of the half, City had been massively outplayed. Swaibu and Watts were struggling to deal with the physical threat of Harrad and Keltie and O’Keefe were thoroughly outfought in midfield. However the simmering battle between the experience of Darren Moore and the pace of Ben Hutchinson would have left Chris Sutton hopeful that his side could breach the organised Brewers backline.
Both sides remerged from the changing rooms unchanged for the second half. It was Lincoln who were presented with the first opportunity of the half and it was arguably the best of the game so far. Broughton drove through the Burton midfield and presented the ball to Hutchinson. Hutchinson dummied, allowing O’Keefe to burst through the middle but his drive was blocked by former Birmingham stopper Legzdins.
Burton though were still looking the more assured side, with Jimmy Phillips’ jinking runs on the left hand flank a hallmark of their dominance. On 54 minutes, he cut inside and tried to bend an effort beyond Anyon but the shot was weak and didn’t test the goalkeeper.
Ex-West Brom defender Moore then picked up a yellow card after losing his latest encounter with the much sharper Hutchinson, who continued to make the Burton back four wary. City made their first substitute just moments later when Carayol came on for Broughton on the hour mark, meaning Delroy Facey switched to the striker role he is more accustomed to.
The Sincil Bank faithful were up in arms on 65 minutes when Ben Hutchinson was brought down by Ryan Austin in the area. The referee however adjudged that Austin got a foot on the ball—if he hadn’t then a penalty and a red card would have been a given. Immediately after, Hutchinson shot wide after he forced the Burton defence to stand off from his direct running.
Burton went straight upfield and neat work opened the way for Shaun Harrad to finish with just the keeper to beat—until Moses Swaibu arrived on the scene with a perfectly timed slide challenge.
Lincoln this time returned the efforts. Hutchinson turned from goal and shot powerfully from 20 yards out. The ball took a deflection and forced Legzdins into a fantastic save at full stretch. The match was turning into an end-to-end encounter with just 20 minutes left to play.
That excitement however soon died down and, after ten minutes of tedium, the two teams still found themselves finely poised as the game neared its climax. Burton top scorer Shaun Harrad was replaced by Richard Walker and Gavin McCallum was introduced at the expense of Ben Hutchinson for the Imps.
On 85 minutes, Delroy Facey got free down the left hand side. His perfect left footed cross found Carayol in the box, but the winger fluffed his header wayward.
The away team almost stole all three points at the death. Winger Maghoma picked the ball up on the corner of the penalty area and shifted inside, but his venomous effort went past the post.
The Linc Man of the Match: Delroy Facey worked hard both on the wing and when he was moved up front. His performance may persuade Sutton to start with the Grenadian international up alongside the also lively Ben Hutchinson.
Attendance: 2510 (237 visitors)Tweet