Lincoln City put in a smooth performance against the Silkmen to win 2-1, in front of several of the favourites to take over the job at Sincil Bank.
Steve Tilson and Dave Penney were among those watching as Moses Swaibu and Jamie Clapham secured a much-needed victory for City, with a Hamza Bencherif strike for Macclesfield the only stain on the scoreline from the Imps’ point of view.
In his programme notes, City chairman Bob Dorrian announced that the board had already begun interviewing applicants for the vacant post at the club. But for this weekend it was up to caretaker boss Scott Lindsey to continue in his temporary capacity.
He made two changes to the team that went down 1-0 to Southend at Roots Hall last weekend. Jamie Clapham replaced Joe Anderson in a straight swap at left back, while Mustapha Carayol came back into the side at the expense of Drewe Broughton. That meant Delroy Facey was pushed forward alongside Ben Hutchinson. Lindsey chose not to include eligible-again captain Scott Kerr in the starting 11, with Josh O’Keefe and Clark Keltie continuing in central midfield.
The Silkmen lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. They included young Aristote Nsiala in their team, the defender signing on a short-term loan from Everton in the week before the game. Ex-Imps Nat Brown, Hamza Bencherif and Paul Morgan were also involved, although the latter had to settle for a place on the away team’s bench.
Macclesfield had the first clear cut chance of the game when Matthew Hamshaw was rolled in by Tyrone Barnett. A last ditch block by Moses Swaibu though meant that the only damage for the Imps was the conceding of a corner.
Former Sheffield Wednesday man Hamshaw was soon among the action again. His delicious 12th minute cross was just inches away from Emile Sinclair’s boot at the far post. Had Sinclair been more alert it would have almost certainly been advantage Macc.
Then came Lincoln’s best chance so far. An Albert Jarrett corner found the advancing Josh O’Keefe, but his downward header was helped behind by a shaky Hamza Bencherif.
The Imps were slowly coming back into a game which had, for the first 25 minutes, seemed so comfortable for Macclesfield. That shift in dominance almost showed when an Anyon goal kick was flicked on by Facey to Hutchinson. From an impossible angle, the on-loan Celtic striker tried to smash the ball into the back of the net, but it shot across the face of the Macclesfield goal.
On 37 minutes, Jarrett whipped in another corner and, after a Delroy Facey flick on, a scramble in the area ensued, with Adam Watts unable to direct the ball in. Just a minute later though, Jarrett squared the ball to Watts who poked it across goal, leaving Moses Swaibu with the simplest of finishes to give the Imps a probably undeserved lead — and their first goal in 472 minutes of football.
The home side then dominated until half time, buoyed by Swaibu’s goal. The first period could probably be referred to as a ‘half of two halves’, with Macclesfield dominating for the first 25 minutes before the Imps struck back — the difference being that City made their dominance count on the scoreboard.
Both sides were slow to start the second period though, with a Mustapha Carayol blocked effort the only chance either side created in the opening ten minutes of the half.
On 55 minutes, Macclesfield grabbed an equaliser. Frenchman Hamza Bencherif was the recipient of a series of flick-ons in the Lincoln penalty area, giving him a simple finish from just a yard out.
A few minutes later, Carayol set off on a run down the right, outsprinting Macclesfield’s flat-footed left back Carl Tremarco. As it looked like Carayol was away, he was hacked down by the defender, who earned himself a yellow card — it could have been worse.
Moses Swaibu then nearly doubled his account after 62 minutes. A salmon-like leap and header from the ex-Palace defender almost looped over Veiga, the goalkeeper making a fantastic save to grasp the ball in mid-air. Josh O’Keefe was then withdrawn by Scott Lindsey and was replaced by the returning Scott Kerr.
The majority of the 3547 fans inside Sincil Bank were disgruntled when Bencherif, seemingly last man, handled when it looked like Carayol would have raced in on goal had he not. Referee Webb took his time to make a decision but decided to hand the Silkmen’s goalscorer just a caution.
The supporters were soon applauding though when the resulting 25-yard free kick from Jamie Clapham was perfectly executed, bending it’s way around the four man Macc wall and into the top left hand corner of Veiga’s goal. Lincoln were back in front in stunning style.
Straight from the kick off, Lincoln could have had a penalty. Jarrett knocked the ball into the box and Facey was bundled over by the not-so-agile Nat Brown — but the referee shunned the appeals dramatically.
The now well-on-top Imps were handed a reprieve on 72 minutes. Emile Sinclair’s ball in was spilled by Joe Anyon but the ball would not fall kindly for Colin Daniel and the home side rallied to clear the ball to safety.
A lovely team move from Lincoln nearly ended in a goal on 84 minutes. Jamie Clapham exchanged passes with Albert Jarrett, before playing the ball into Facey. Facey then laid the ball off for Scott Kerr, but his long range effort was tipped over by Veiga.
With the clock ticking down, Jamie Clapham’s lax back pass almost let in substitute Vinny Mukendi — but the former Ipswich man got back to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick off the burly forward. Mukendi was involved again deep into injury time, with his header sailing harmlessly over the goal. Colin Daniel had the chance to equalise for Macclesfield right at the death, but his effort was straight at Anyon.
Imps caretaker manager Scott Lindsey said that he felt his side did enough for the win. Speaking after the game he said: “It’s very nice to win and I think we thoroughly deserved it. I thought we grinded out a good performance as well. We did a lot of work in training on getting it into wide areas, when you’ve got pace in abundance in wide areas then that is the place you have to use it.”
He continued: “I said to them (the players) before the game I want at least ten crosses in the first half, I think the kit man Matt counted 20 so we were more than happy with that.”
The Linc Man of the Match: Delroy FaceyTweet