— Mikey Mumford contributed with this report
An Ashley Grimes strike three minutes from time earned Lincoln City a third consecutive victory inside a week against a disappointing Port Vale side at Sincil Bank.
City boss Steve Tilson named an unchanged side to the one that recorded a shock victory away at Cheltenham on Tuesday evening. Mustapha Carayol remained on the sidelines after picking up an injury last week at Stockport and there was a place on the substitute’s bench for the returning Gavin Hoyte.
New signing Patrick Kanyuka was still awaiting international clearance while Scott Spencer’s imminent transfer is not expected to be finalised until Monday. Luke Howell continued in midfield after making his loan switch from MK Dons permanent this week.
Fifteen points separated the pair going into the fixture, with Vale’s promotion push hitting a snag of late. Jim Gannon’s side had not won in four league games and the former Peterborough boss has found it tough since succeeding Micky Adams in the hotseat.
However, Lincoln had failed to beat the Valiants in their last four clashes at Sincil Bank— losing three and netting only once.
The Imps kicked off the game and created the first real opening on 20 minutes. Ashley Grimes got behind the Vale backline but his shot was blocked by John McCombe.
City continued to hold the upper hand when Luke Howell somewhat fortuitously skipped around the opposition left back, squaring for Grimes again, but his shot was hacked away by Lee Collins.
Arguably the attempt of the first half came from Delroy Facey on the half hour mark. The Grenada centre-forward saw visiting goalkeeper Chris Martin off his line but his shot from all of thirty yards dropped agonisingly onto the roof of the net.
Vale were struggling to get a foothold in the game and the neutral would have been forgiven for not knowing fifteen points and seventeen league places separated the two clubs.
Their only chance of note before the interval came courtesy of a cross-shot from full-back Adam Yates who had Trevor Carson backpedalling for a second. However his shot fell a yard over the Sunderland loanee’s crossbar.
Lincoln started the second 45 brightly with the impressive Facey causing problems with his robust and energetic style of play.
But it was the visitors who created the best chance of the game slightly against the run of play. Gary Roberts chipped in a free kick which evaded everyone bar John McCombe who glanced his header wide of the upright.
It took until the 78th minute for City to seriously threaten. A looping ball found Facey in the penalty area and he shrugged of two defenders before laying the ball off for Josh O’Keefe, whose daisy cutter from 12 yards rattled the post.
With both sides looking seemingly content with a point, O’Keefe burst through midfield, and when his pass found the advancing Luke Howell in the area, he neatly played in Grimes who fired into the top left corner of Chris Martin’s goal.
Vale had little time to respond and goal scorer Grimes left the field to a standing ovation after being replaced in injury time for Gavin Hoyte.
The result propelled Lincoln up to 19th position in League Two, five points adrift of the relegation zone.
City would have been thankful the game even went ahead after it passed two pitch inspections prior to kick-off. The Imps now have four games in hand over both Stockport and Barnet who currently occupy the two relegation places.
In his post match interview Steve Tilson was quick to heap praise on Grimes who has netted four goals in the last three games.
He said: “When Grimes is in that form a finish like that deserves to win any game, he feels he can score from anywhere and its gone in the top corner.”
“We’ve got him till the end of the season and I’m happy with that, outside of that if he keeps scoring he won’t be playing at this level.
But the former Southend boss refused to get carried away despite three wins in as many games.
“It’s all about getting the three points and we’ve done that today but we’ve got to push on from this,” he said.
“We’ve won three games out of three but there is a long way to go, 22 games is a lot of games and a lot of points to play for and we cant sit back on our laurels.”Tweet