Lincoln City came into the game without a win since December 8th, 2012. Against opponents Forest Green Rovers, who currently sit in a play-off position in the league, it was always going to tough ask for Lincoln to end their run off bad form.
Lincoln City’s return to league football, following two weeks of postponements, got off to a frustrating start when in the 7th minute, Yan Klukowski tapped in Reece Styche’s shot that rebounded off the bar.
A fairly timid game before that goal, Lincoln were shocked into life and responded well to going a goal down to the visitors.
Moments later, Chris Bush had his flicked-on header acrobatically saved by Russell in the Rovers net.
Following two goalmouth scrambles apiece, both resulting in nothing, the game began to even out with only Klukowski’s goal separating the two sides.
Lincoln looked the better side but were unable to hit the target despite a 20-yard rocket from Jake Thomson, after 25 minutes, that beat scrambling keeper Russell but cracked against the inside of the post and then cleared away from danger.
Lincoln continued to turn the screw but were unable to break down a dogged Rovers defence.
In the 42nd minute, the home crowd appealed more in hope than anything for a penalty, when Eddie Oshodi held on to Imps golden boy Jamie Taylor in the box. Referee Chris Breakspear waved away the appeals.
Lincoln pressed further with Connor Robinson taking a tame turn and shot that was easily held by the very competent Rovers keeper Russell.
That spate of Imps pressure on Forest Green’s net appeared to wake the away side up who pressed for a second when the impressive Reece Styche cross shot was well saved by David Preece for Lincoln.
From the resulting corner, Forest Green did snatch what some would call an undeserved second goal. Another goalmouth scramble saw the replacement assistant Mark Hutchinson award a debateable goal to the away side with Stokes claiming the final touch. Another call for goal line technology?
After that second goal Lincoln were rocking and were lucky not to go down to 10 men when Styche raced away from the Imps defence, only to brought down by Scott Garner 20 yards from goal. Luckily for Lincoln, referee Breakspear did not judge him to be last man and subsequently gave him a yellow card instead of the red. Klukowski’s resulting free kick was just over.
The referee blew the whistle to bring the half to the close, where the Lincoln players exited the pitch to a chorus of boos.
With Lincoln dominating the majority of the first half, it was there defence that had let them down again and resulted in them being two down.
The Imps came out in the second half with a new sense of urgency and were unlucky to not half the deficit, when in the 50th minute, Chris Bush deflected Paul Turnbull’s shot goal wards to only be saved by Sam Russell.
Lincoln was unable to continue in the same vain and slowly lost momentum.
In the 65th minute, manager David Holdsworth made a surprising substitution taking Jamie Taylor off and bringing on Vadaine Oliver, which led to a chorus of “You don’t know what you’re doing” from the Lincoln faithful in the Co-operative Stand.
The substitution very nearly resulted in a goal for Lincoln in the 70th minute, where the ball dropped kindly at the feet of Oliver, who volleyed wide.
With the game drifting away from Lincoln and the crowd getting increasingly hostile, David Holdsworth made a double change in the 77th minute, bringing on Jake Jones and Adam Smith for Colin Larkin and Jake Sheridan respectively.
It was Smith who nearly justified his substitution in the 81st minute with a dipping shot from 25 yards out that just went over a worried Sam Russell’s goal.
A minute later, Jake Jones made it 3 out of three for substitutes to have an impact for Lincoln as his darting room from just inside the Rover’s box saw him jinx his way to far post to only be tripped by a Rover’s defender, to which the referee said no penalty and booked Jones for protesting too forcefully.
Two minutes later, the referee did point to the spot for a handball from Eddie Oshodi to which substitute Adam Smith converted expertly into the top corner.
With Forest Green’s leads halved, Lincoln pressed franticly for the equaliser.
Connor Robinson’s shot from 25 yards was close but failed to trouble Russell.
Forest Green begun to slow the game down with Sam Russell and his defence taking ages to retrieve the ball went it went out of play.
With five minutes of stoppage time shown by the referee, Lincoln peppered the Rover’s box as everybody pressed for the precious equaliser.
Sadly for Lincoln they were unable to create any more clear cut chances and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat.
The decision to bring on Adam Smith changed the game but poor defending in the first half and a lacklustre performance in the second half until the introduction of Adam Smith, ultimately cost the Imps.
Lincoln will continue their league campaign away against Braintree Town on February 2nd.
David Preece – 6
Made some decent saves but not helped by his defence.
Dan Gray – 6
Solid performance and long throws were always a threat.
Scott Garner – 5
Troubled all day by Styche.
Tom Miller – 5
Tough opposition and it showed in the first half.
Chris Bush – 7
Consistent performance and a threat going forward.
Jake Thomson – 7
Looked dangerous throughout the game and had a couple of close long range efforts.
Paul Turnbull – 6
Solid performance, held the midfield well.
Jake Sheridan – 5 (76th minute) Adam Smith
Nothing special, made way later for the excellent Smith.
Colin Larkin – 5 (76th minute) Jake Jones
Failed to have an impact. Deserved to be subbed.
Connor Robinson – 6
Long shot late on was his best moment in a solid but difficult game.
Jamie Taylor – 6 (65th Minute, Oliver)
A tough game for Lincoln’s top scorer. Failed to make a massive impact and struggled against the Rover’s defence.
Vadaine Oliver (65th minute) – 6
Made a impact, defying the “Don’t know what you’re doing” shouts from the home fans.
Jakes Jones (76th minute) – 6
Should have been given a penalty for an excellent run.
Adam Smith (76th minute) – 8
The Linc Sport Man Of Match, despite being on for 15 minutes. Changed the whole game, if he’d have been on from the start, who knows what would have happened.