Imps 1 Shrewsbury 5

If the record books were to dictate tonight’s match at Sincil Bank then a loss for Lincoln would surely be the end result. In the last five matches between the sides, City have failed to even score against Shrewsbury Town, let alone win.

Steve Tilson chose, unsurprisingly, to stick with the 4-4-2 line-up that has proved ever so successful over the last few matches – most recently in the away win against Hereford last Saturday.


Lionel Ainsworth's hat trick condemned Lincoln to a heavy home defeat. Photo: Stuart Bramley

In his programme notes Tilson praised his team for the way they have knuckled down over the previous weeks, and he made clear reference to how much his team are enjoying playing football.

On the back of five consecutive victories, Imps fans were expectant of yet another three points. However, the Shrews came into the game against Lincoln on the back of two wins and have looked like promotion contenders throughout the campaign.

Shrewsbury manager Graham Turner was forced to make one change from the side that brushed off Southend, with Lionel Ainsworth replacing on-loan striker Tom Bradshaw. It would turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Shrewsbury were far quicker in the opening exchanges and it paid dividends when Jon Taylor picked up the ball on the right side of the box before he took it inside past Stephen Hunt and fired a shot into the top right-hand corner.

However, Lincoln fans would soon see their team capitalise on some poor defending. Only minutes after Shrewsbury took the lead, Gavin McCallum raced down the left wing before crossing in for Ashley Grimes to head home his ninth goal of the season.

But Tilson would see his side go behind once again after McCallum lost the ball to Ainsworth on the halfway line. The winger then nurtured the ball to the by-line before putting in a cross that caused confusion in the Lincoln area and before he knew it, Julian Kelly had put the ball beyond his teammate Trevor Carson in the City goal.

Unfortunately for the Imps boss his first half did not get any better and, on 22 minutes Gavin Hoyte mis-controlled the ball leaving Ainsworth to bag his second of the game and Shrewsbury’s third.

Ainsworth furthered the Shrews’ lead on 24 minutes, when his cross came in only to be parried by Carson straight into the path of the unmarked midfielder who duly converted to increase his team’s lead.

The night only got worse for Tilson and his men, when on 35 minutes Ainsworth ensured he would be going home with the match ball when he struck again after some great build-up play from Harrold.

Half time could not come quick enough for the former Southend boss, and City went into the second half facing a mammoth task of overturning a 5-1 deficit.

Both managers opted to make changes at half-time. For Lincoln, left-back Hunt was replaced by Patrick Kanyuka and Shrewsbury substituted David Davis for Kevin McIntyre.

Referee Jon Moss made his first booking of the game on 55 minutes when Hoyte made a late challenge on substitute McIntyre.

In an attempt to salvage something from the game Tilson made two changes on 65 minutes. Recent arrival Scott Spencer came on for Delroy Facey and Drewe Broughton took the place of Grimes.

Shrews boss Turner decided to use another substitute with 20 minutes remaining bringing off Jermaine Grandison for Connor Goldstone.

Shrewsbury made their last change on 83 minutes when striker Harrold made way for Craig Disley.

A reflection of Lincoln’s performance was illustrated on 85 minutes when an inviting Luke Howell free-kick could not find a single City player, allowing the Shrewsbury defence to easily clear.

Referee Moss was forced to make his second booking with a minute of normal time remaining when Kanyuka recklessly challenged left-back Sadler.

Lincoln rarely threatened during the second half and a recovery from the 5-1 drubbing they took in the first half was an over ambitious objective.

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