Lincoln City’s first game back at Sincil Bank after realising relegation in the final match of last season against Aldershot Town resulted in victory.
Sunday’s opponents were League One outfit Scunthorpe United, who, like city, failed to beat the drop last season and were relegated from The Championship.
Both teams were playing for a place in the final of the Lincolnshire Senior County Cup against Grimsby Town.
Imps boss Steve Tilson has remained positive since his team fell through the League Two trapdoor in May, and before the match with Scunthorpe had already guided City to three consecutive friendly wins.
Striker Sam Smith took the lead on 16 minutes for Lincoln after some well constructed build up play from Alan Power and then Simon Russell. Right-midfielder Russell was able to feed the ball through to Smith who beat the offside trap and buried his shot below Josh Lillis in the Iron goal.
One addition to City’s back four this summer has been Josh Gowling. The centre-back enjoyed a month on loan at Sincil Bank last December under Tilson and the former Southend boss signed him on a permanent basis in early July. He certainly looks likely to be an integral part of Lincoln’s set up this season as they look to return to the Football League at the first time of asking.
Former Eastbourne Borough forward Jamie Taylor found himself staring at an open goal with just over 15 minutes to play in the first half. A long ball from the Imps defence confused Iron keeper Lillis and misjudged his header, which allowed Taylor to get close to the ball, but he failed to control it and subsequently scuffed his half volley wide of an open Scunthorpe goal.
Similar to Gowling, Power’s performance against Scunthorpe may suggest to many Lincoln fans that the wait for a replacement to Scott Kerr, who left in January, is over. The former Rushden &
Diamonds midfielder possesses strength, composure and decisive passing when going forward.
Power had a chance to display those skills shortly before half time when he picked the ball up just inside the Lincoln half. Driving forward he played the ball to Russell who played a cutting pass to Smith, but the former Diamonds striker was judged offside.
Lincoln began the second half in the same vein as the first, and nearly added to their lead when a Gavin McCallum header forced Lillis to fumble the ball into the path of Smith, yet his effort never made it across the line.
Despite the match being contested in a competitive manner it was in many supporters’ minds a common theme friendly. However, Tilson and Co must be impressed with the way their freshly put together side is gelling.
Including Gowling and Power two other signings that may be instrumental for Lincoln this coming campaign are frontmen Smith and Taylor. Both players have respective non-league experience from playing with Rushden & Diamonds and Eastbourne Borough – Taylor’s already netted several times this closed season.
With 25 minutes remaining Tilson decided to make a couple of changes, taking off McCallum and Russell, while bringing on Nicky Nicolau and Josh O’Keefe.
Minutes later goal scorer Smith came off to the crowd’s applause and was replaced by James Wilson in a like-for-like switch.
Scunthorpe came close to equalising when a neat pass from playmaker Mark Duffy bypassed defender Adam Watts and rolled into the path of Andy Barcham who played the ball across the six-yard box but substitute Bobby Grant failed to convert.
The game had just entered stoppage time when prolific striker Chris Dagnall dispossessed both Gowling and Danny Hone in Lincoln’s defence and slotted the ball beneath Joe Anyon in the City goal.
With the scores fixed at 1-1 a penalty shootout would decide who would face Grimsby in the cup final on Tuesday August 2.
City came out on top winning the shootout 4-3 after Sam Togwell and Dagnall missed their penalties for the Iron, while O’Keefe was the only Lincoln player to miss from 12 yards.
Man of the match Power spoke after the game at how he’s settled into a team very different to the Diamonds side he featured in last season: “Last year [at Diamonds] we played 4-3-3 a lot so it’s my first time in a while of being back in a 4-4-2 and I think it went well.
“Everyone gets along well here and everybody has a good understanding of each other and we’ve all gelled together pretty quick. I’m surprised at how well we’ve gelled together [and] I think everyone can see it today that we have ambition and our aim is to go straight back up.
“We know it’s going to be hard but if we give a 100% like that today we’re more than capable of beating teams in The Conference and more importantly, getting out of it.”
Match attendance: 1,769Tweet