– Scott Tysoe contributed to this report.
Lincoln City could only manage a draw against Ebbsfleet United in the Blue Square Bet Premier match on Saturday, September 1st.
Lincoln City went into the game on the back of a hard-fought and well-earned point away at Gateshead and started the brighter of the two teams. It took just three minutes for the Imps to take the lead with the first chance of the match.
A superb tackle from Andrew Boyce saw the ball break to Alan Power, who found Nicky Nicolau in acres of space on the left-hand side. He drove unchallenged into the box before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Ebbsfleet tried to gain a foothold in the match after their setback but it was Lincoln who fashioned the next shot on goal in the seventh minute. Jamie Taylor and Colin Larkin linked well before Taylor tried his luck from distance, dragging his shot wide of the post.
Lincoln continued to see the majority of possession, mainly down the left hand side, with Nicolau and left-back John Nutter combining well on a number of occasions. They threatened without really creating any clear openings until Alan Power hit a shot wide from 20 yards on 13 minutes.
In the 16th minute Lincoln were awarded a free-kick just over 20 yards from goal. Nutter drove his effort straight into the wall and the ball was cleared long to Ebbsfleet striker, Moses Ashikodi. A slip from Andrew Boyce allowed him to head towards goal but the defender recovered and denied the striker a clean shot at goal.
In the 18th minute, Ebbsfleet threatened again and managed to force a corner. The delivery was good but Farman managed to drop on the ball after a bit of pinball in the City box. Another corner followed two minutes later and, after a poor attempted clearance from Nicolau, the ball was worked back into the box for Liam Enver-Marum. But the forward could only guide his header wide of the mark.
Possession exchanged hands too easily for the next few minutes as both teams looked for a way to take control of the match. On 26 minutes Colin Larkin had a header that was saved at second attempt by Ebbsfleet goalkeeper Preston Edwards.
Just a couple of minutes later, Lincoln wasted a glorious chance to go two goals ahead. An Ebbsfleet free-kick was charged down by Nicolau right on the edge of the area. The ball was eventually worked into the Lincoln box but was again cleared by Nicolau, this time to the feet of Jamie Taylor.
The ball was played to Alan Power, through Larkin, and a mistake by the visiting captain, Paul Lorraine, let him in on goal. Unfortunately for the Imps, Power dallied on the ball with Sheridan wide open in the six yard box and they missed their chance for a second.
37 minutes had been played by the time another chance was created and, again, it was Lincoln who had it. Gary Mills won the ball back after possession was lost, not once but twice. He fed it into Larkin, who played a one-two with Sheridan but his shot was fired over the bar. A minute later an Ebbsfleet free-kick was claimed well in the air by Paul Farman.
Lincoln managed to hold their lead going into half-time and almost doubled it less than a minute after coming back out. A long throw from Dan Gray found Larkin, who flicked the ball on to Jamie Taylor. He hit an acrobatic effort that was heading in, until Edwards saved well with a dive to his right.
In the 50th minute, Colin Larkin showed a great first touch to bring a long ball down and control it instantly and then produced a good step-over to get past his man. He moved in on goal but his final effort let down the skill that had preceded it, as he blazed his shot high over the bar.
The game then settled very much into a pattern. Lincoln had more of the possession, but couldn’t quite find the final pass to create a decent scoring chance, whilst Ebbsfleet struggled to fashion anything and, more often than not, gave the ball away. The visitors decided to try and change things by making two substitutions, bringing off Neil Barrett and Liam Enver-Marum and replacing them with Liam Bellamy and Nathan Elder.
It wasn’t long before the substitutions paid off for the visitors. In the 62nd minute, a Lincoln corner was easily cleared to Lanre Azeez and he broke down the right-hand side. He skipped past two challenges and found substitute Neil Barrett, who slammed home a great strike from edge of area.
Imps manager, David Holdsworth decided to change things at this point, bringing on Paul Robson at right-back for Gary Mills, moving Dan Gray up into the midfield.
On 67 minutes, Ebbsfleet saw a corner headed wide of the goal by Elder and more Lincoln changes followed minutes later as Conner Robinson (the goal-scorer on Monday) and Vadaine Oliver replaced Larkin and, today’s goal-scorer, Nicolau.
Ebbsfleet began to pile on the pressure as Lincoln struggled to do anything of note and the away sides created three good chances in as many minutes. In the 74th, they forced a corner which was headed on to the bar by Paul Lorraine with just a hint of a touch from Farman, who gathered the ball off the woodwork.
Then Lanre Azeez had two chances which brought two more Farman saves. First he used his pace to get past Hutchinson and hit an effort with the outside of his right foot that Farman parried away. Then, moments later, he side-footed straight at the Lincoln goalkeeper when perhaps he should have done better.
On 81 minutes, Lincoln won a free-kick in a relatively dangerous position but Alan Power saw his delivery sail straight out of play, summing up his day. Two minutes later, Dan Gray hit a long range shot wide of goal with Lincoln’s first real attempt for a while.
This was closely followed by another free-kick that was awarded to Lincoln and this time Nutter stood over the ball. His delivery was not on target but it worried the goalkeeper enough for him to tip it behind for a corner. Jamie Taylor sent over the delivery but Andrew Boyce couldn’t quite get his head to it.
Ebbsfleet made their final substitution as the game entered the closing stages, bringing on Ben Greenhalgh for Moses Ashikodi. They were just eating away at the clock as three minutes of added time had just been announced. Neither Lincoln nor Ebbsfleet could fashion one last goal-scoring chance and so the game finished 1-1. The visitors will be much the happier side as Lincoln could, and probably should, have been clear before they went into half-time.
Next up for the Imps is Alfreton Town at The 12th Imp Sincil Bank Stadium on Tuesday night and they must be targeting three points after they failed to claim a maximum haul today. This point leaves them with five points after six games and they will be looking to add three more to that with a win on Tuesday.
Paul Farman – 8
Not really troubled in the first half but a lot more to do in the second. Saved well and looked good in the air when taking crosses. Had no chance with the goal.
Dan Gray – 6
Put in a couple of good tackles in but didn’t really do much else.
Andrew Boyce – 7
Made a superb tackle in the lead up to Lincoln’s goal and looked assured at the back, despite a couple of little mistakes.
Graham Hutchinson – 7
Looks good alongside Boyce and they will likely retain the partnership for Tuesday as well.
John Nutter – 6
Worked well in the first half but his delivery let him down from set pieces.
Gary Mills – 6
Worked hard but his performance was affected by the poor one from his midfield partner.
Alan Power – 4
Got an assist but gave the ball away too cheaply. Lucky not to have been substituted.
Jake Sheridan – 6
Put in the running without ever really getting overly involved in the game.
Nicky Nicolau – 8
The Linc Sport’s Man of the Match. Nicolau had a superb first half, getting a good goal and putting in a solid shift of defensive work as well.
Colin Larkin – 6
Made some good link up plays with the midfield but let himself down when he got the chance to shoot.
Jamie Taylor – 6
Similar to Larkin, he held the ball up well and had a couple of efforts without really troubling the goalkeeper.