– Kelvin Defty contributed with this report.
Lincoln City were plunged into further trouble at the wrong end of League Two after two second half goals saw Cheltenham Town leave Sincil Bank with victory.
City have now gone 9 games without a win and draws for both Barnet and Northampton coupled with Burton Albion’s victory leaves the Imps two points above the drop.
Goals from Josh Low and Danny Andrew for the Robins condemned Steve Tilson’s men to their second defeat in four days.
The former Southend boss made one change to the team that was narrowly beaten by Bury on Good Friday. Top scorer Ashley Grimes returned from suspension partnering Ben Hutchinson relegating Josh O’Keefe to the substitute’s bench
Mustapha Carayol played no part after he suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury at Bury. Adam Watts and Clark Keltie returned to the match day squad after spending time on the sidelines through illness and injury respectively.
Lincoln started the brighter of the two teams, creating three chances early on. Luke Howell whipped in a cross from the right hand side on 4 minutes which was cleared as far as Ali Fuseini, who struck just wide of Cheltenham’s upright.
Gavin McCallum was next to test Cheltenham’s resolve when he flashed a cross along the six-yard box which beat everyone except Scott Brown in the Cheltenham goal who gathered the ball with little threat from the Lincoln strikers.
The visitors first real chance came on the quarter-hour mark. Danny Andrew took an in-swinging corner from the right hand side but Martin Riley’s powerful header flew just over Elliot Parish’s crossbar.
The Imps then won a free-kick within shooting range after Luke Howell was brought down 30 yards out from the Cheltenham goal. A well worked free-kick resulted in a shot from Gavin McCallum being deflected out for a corner, which caused the Robins minimal danger.
Ten minutes later it was Gavin McCallum again causing problems for the Cheltenham back line. He burst down the left flank before finding Ashley Grimes in the middle who blazed his shot over the bar.
With just over 10 minutes to go in the first half Cheltenham’s best chance came when Theo Lewis broke through the Imps backline only to shoot wide of the post with Parish stranded.
After a goalless first period Lincoln again started the brighter having the lions’ share of possession but a lack of quality in the final third scuppering their attacks.
For the visitors Wes Thomas and Junior Smikle spurned good opportunities but their reward finally came with just under 25 minutes left to play. Lincoln failed to close down a cross from the right and Josh Low headed in unmarked inside the penalty are.
In response Ali Fuseini fired wide from distance and Cian Hughton forced several corners as Cheltenham shut up shop to defend their slender advantage.
But the game was put beyond all doubt in the 88th minute after a clumsy challenge from Luke Howell gifted Cheltenham a free-kick 20 yards out. Left back Danny Andrew stepped up and lifted the ball over the Lincoln wall and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Ashley Grimes had a chance late on for Lincoln but all hope had gone for the home side and referee Karl Evans’ final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos from the home faithful.
The loss leaves Lincoln just 2 points and two places above the drop zone and travel to Oxford on Saturday before Aldershot visit Sincil Bank in the final fixture of the season .
In his post-match interview Steve Tilson said despite the recent poor run of results the team haven’t got their just rewards for a string of good performances.
He said: “We haven’t been playing that badly. We played ever so well at Bury, ever so well at Crewe and again today, for 40 minutes we played well.”
But midfielder Luke Howell refused to make any excuses and stressed it is the players that have to take responsibility.
He said: “We have only got ourselves to blame. The first goal was always going to be massive and we knew that. We started well, but it just seems if we don’t get that first goal, the longer it takes we get less and less confident.
“We are footballers, you have got to want the ball and you’ve got to do your bit for the team. If not, there isn’t much point you being on the pitch.”
The Imps travel to the Kassam Stadium on Saturday to take on Oxford in their last away match of the season.Tweet