A late Alan Power penalty completed a brilliant turn around for Lincoln City as they edged out relegation rivals Tamworth 2-1 at the 12th Imp Sincil Bank on Saturday, April 13th, 2013.
Following Tuesday’s thumping at Luton, manager Gary Simpson made three changes. Nicky Nicolau came in for the suspended Andrew Boyce, captain Alan Power replaced Mamadou Fofana in centre midfield and Craig Hobson made way for Vadaine Oliver up front.
In the opposition dug out, Tamworth manager Dale Belford chose to make five changes from the team that lost 3-0 at Alfreton on Thursday. Tom Marshall, Tommy Wright, Lloyd Kerry were replaced by Connor Gudger, Darren Byfield and Sam Oji, whilst Peter Till and Max Harrop came in for Stuart Hendrie and Jonathon Thorpe.
Described as “the biggest game in the club’s history” pre-match by Gary Simpson, Lincoln found themselves 1-0 down within seven minutes. A poor Paul Turnbull header allowed Tamworth midfielder Peter Till space down the right flank, and his inswinging cross was diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Dan Gray.
With the future of the club hanging in the balance, Lincoln searched for a quick equaliser and almost found one through centre back Nat Brown, however his hooked effort following a dangerous Dan Gray throw was deflected behind.
As half-time approached, chances came for both sides. First, Tamworth midfielder and former England International Lee Hendrie’s corner was met by full back Michael Wylde, only for him to head wide, before a pinpoint Dan Gray cross found the head of recalled striker Vadaine Oliver, however he could only direct the ball narrowly over.
Following an evenly contested half, Lincoln could consider themselves unlucky to be a goal down at half-time, and knowing that the next 45 minutes could potentially define their season, the Imps started the second half strongly, with Power blazing over following good work from Jake Sheridan.
With a nervous crowd and tension in the air, the Imps began to ramp up the pressure on the Lambs goal. Another Gray long throw caused havoc in the Tamworth area, and Lambs keeper Tony Breedon produced a spectacular double save to deny first Oliver and then Taylor.
Set-pieces seemed the most likely means for an equaliser for Lincoln, and with consistently good Power deliveries and Gray long throws continuing to cause the Tamworth defence problems, an equaliser seemed inevitable and it duly arrived in the 69th minute. Gray’s cross from the right flank was met by the head of Imps’ top scorer Jamie Taylor, and he made no mistake in glancing the ball past Breedon into the corner of the net.
That goal seemed to inspire Lincoln, and following a mazy run by substitute Jake Jones, Taylor nearly put Lincoln 2-1 up however his goal bound shot was parried away by Breedon.
As the pressure on the Tamworth goal mounted, Belford attempted to turn the tide with a flurry of changes, however it was to no avail and in the 82nd minute, Lincoln were awarded a penalty. Tamworth were unable to clear their lines and Jake Jones managed to get his toe on the ball moments before Lambs centre back Sam Oji, and the big defender’s challenge left Jones in a heap on the turf leaving referee Anthony Backhouse no choice but to point to the spot.
Captain Alan Power stepped up for possibly the most important kick of his career and he made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Breedon the wrong way to give the Imps the lead in their penultimate game of the season.
That goal seemed to drain the life out of Tamworth and Lincoln were happy to see out the game by the corner flag, much to the delight and jubilation of the 3,042 Imps fans, the club’s second highest attendance of the season.
Unsavoury scenes on the pitch followed the final whistle between Imps fans and both sets of players; however it does not take the gloss of what was a fantastic win for Lincoln, and takes them up to 18th, four points clear of 21st placed Stockport, who have a game in hand.
Paul Farman – 6.5
Distributed well, and couldn’t do anything about the goal.
Dan Gray – 7
Put in several dangerous long throws, provided the assist for Taylor’s goal and could’ve had another assist had Oliver scored.
Tom Miller – 6.5
Coped reasonably well in the more unnatural position of centre half.
Nat Brown – 6.5
Had a decent game and was unlucky not to score.
Nicky Nicolau (81) – 6
Did well considering his recent lack of match, but could’ve done more to support the attack.
Todd Jordan (66) – 6
Protected the defence.
Paul Turnbull – 6.5
Struggled to influence the game in the first half, but put himself about well in the second.
Alan Power – 9
The Linc (and Lincoln City’s official) Man of the Match! Had a fantastic game, led by example, scored the winner, dictated play and his delivery was a constant threat.
Jake Sheridan – 6.5
Worked hard, and went on one good run that resulted in a decent chance.
Jamie Taylor (90) – 8
Lead the line well, scored the equaliser at a crucial time and could’ve had more.
Vadaine Oliver – 7
Held the ball up well and was a good target man. Unlucky not to score.
Jake Jones (66) – 7.5
Made a big difference with his direct running, wing play and ultimately won the penalty.
Craig Hobson (81) – 5
Mamadou Fofana (90) – 5
Brought on to allow Jamie Taylor to receive a standing ovation.