Lincoln City made it three wins in a row for the first time since October 2008 as they brushed aside fellow League Two relegation candidates, Hereford United.
The final score was 3-1 in a game that had several penalty appeals, goals and, more importantly, a performance which left the fans applauding for almost five minutes after the final whistle.
Steve Tilson gave rare starts to Scott Kerr and Delroy Facey. The absence of Moses Swaibu due to suspension forced the manager to alter his normal trusted starting eleven.
First half goals from Ben Hutchinson and Facey put the Imps 2-0 up at the break. For the first time in recent memory, the team left the pitch to a standing ovation from the fans.
After the first few minutes however, it could have easily been a different story. With less than 30 seconds on the clock, Hereford striker Mathieu Manset burst through the city backline and tested City ‘keeper, Joe Anyon with a punt from the edge of the box.
Manset continued to be a thorn in the side of the City defence as he went close again with a curling shot from the edge of the area on 11 minutes. This time, Anyon could only watch as the ball sailed wide.
It didn’t take long for the Imps to find their attacking shoes themselves as Scott Kerr and Ben Hutchinson both went close.
Hutchinson’s effort however left the fans screaming into their palms as he fired straight at Hereford’s Adam Bartlett from less than 6-yards-out.
The Imps continued to press when loan-signing, Gavin Hoyte proved why he is considered one of the most promising prospects at Arsenal’s academy. He used his quick feet to beat a defender and then produce a cross straight from his parent club’s repertoire. Ben Hutchinson could only head over from near the penalty spot. As one fan remarked, it was “from ‘Premier League’ class to ‘Got no’ class”.
Hereford continued to attack sporadically but it was the home side that looked likeliest to score.
That is exactly what they did on 28 minutes when a Mustapha Carayol cross was headed into the roof of the net by Ben Hutchinson. This was mere days after the striker admitted that he did not care what the fans had to say about his temperament. It also made Hutchinson City’s top scorer in the league this season with four goals.
The away side were still adjusting to being behind when Lincoln produced another goal which was almost a carbon copy of the previous goal. This time, it was Facey who finished to make it 2-0 to City. Again, Carayol provided the assist.
The Imps went into the break two goals to the good. Confidence was increasing by the minute and the fans showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.
As the team came out for the second half, the floodlights flickered off the layer of fog that had descended onto Sincil Bank.
Lincoln picked up where they left off in the second half, attacking with ease and playing with style. Delroy Facey tried adding to his tally with an effort from inside the area. Bartlett was able to save it, but the Hereford defence were starting to look frail.
Before City had another chance to extend their lead though, a Joe Anyon mistake from a Mathieu Manset strike gifted Stuart Fleetwood with the chance to pull one back for the visitors. The striker had to keep calm under pressure to volley the ball into the back of the net.
Despite losing their clean sheet, Lincoln restored their two-goal cushion within a minute of the restart, when Carayol jockeyed past two defenders and passed the ball through a crowd of bodies and into the back of the net.
The home fans wheeled in delight at the goal that surely sealed a third consecutive win for their team.
The atmosphere in the ground was now electric. Some sections of the crowd had burst into a rendition of ‘When the Imps go marching in’. For five short minutes, Sincil Bank could have been confused with Anfield.
The action was not quite over yet as Adam Watts had the ball over the line but the referee signalled for offside.
The Imps continued to battle for the rest of the game until the referee blew for full-time. A victory for Lincoln means they are now 16th in the table – Six places higher than where they were last weekend.
Defeat for Hereford has left them bottom of the Football League, seven places and four points behind their hosts.
The Imps did not play like a relegation burdened team. Some would even go as far as to say they did not even look like a League Two team. Now, attention is shifted to Tuesday night when City face promotion chasers Bury.Tweet