Lincoln fall to disappointing home defeat

A Chris McPhee header five minutes before half-time was enough to end an uninspiring Lincoln’s 100% home record and give Salisbury their first away win of the season.

The Imps suffered their first defeat of the season at home to Salisbury

The Imps suffered their first defeat of the season at home to Salisbury

The Imps suffered their first defeat of the season at home to Salisbury

Following last weekend’s 2-1 win at Dartford, Imps manager Gary Simpson chose to name an unchanged line up, with captain Alan Power serving the final match of his suspension following his red card at Cambridge.

Salisbury manager Mikey Harris made one change from the team which beat Halifax 3-1 seven days ago; defender Callum Hart coming in for Oldham loanee Glenn Belezika.

In a game of few clear cut chances, it was Lincoln who made the better start, former Tamworth striker Danny Rowe curling a 13th minute free kick into the arms of Salisbury keeper Will Puddy.

Tasked with the job of breaking through Salisbury’s rigid and well organised 4-5-1 formation, it was Rowe again who nearly provided the opener. Following Rob Sinclair’s clumsy foul on Lincoln midfielder Jon Nolan just inside the left touchline, Rowe’s inswinging free kick nearly caught Puddy out, however the White’s stopper was able to pluck the ball out from just underneath the crossbar to prevent a fortuitous opener.

In the 40th minute and against the run of play, Salisbury took the lead. Good work on the left wing from former Exeter City winger Elliott Frear led to a corner, and poor marking allowed Chris McPhee to creep in at the back post unnoticed to nod in and give the Whites a barely deserved first half lead.

Stunned, Lincoln sought a quick equaliser and nearly had it through striker Ben Tomlinson.

Newton’s neat footwork and pass created the opening; however Tomlinson’s effort from 12 yards was hit straight at Puddy.

Roared on by over 2,600 Imps fans (a season high), one might have expected the Imps to come out after half-time all guns blazing, however it was Salisbury who nearly grabbed the second goal of the game. Young striker Dan Fitchett had the opportunity to capitalise on more poor Lincoln defending, however his close range header hit the post with Imps keeper Paul Farman stranded.

The absence of playmaker Power grew more and more noticeable as the game went on, with Lincoln repeatedly forced to go long as a stubborn Salisbury side held firm.

In the 58th minute Salisbury once again had a chance to double their lead, however Farman produced a fine save from a Fitchett drive to keep Lincoln in the game.

As the Imps began to throw more men forward, they became more vulnerable at the back and in the 72nd minute the game should’ve been put beyond doubt. A swift Salisbury counter attack left the Whites with four against one; however a poorly chosen ball to substitute Ben Wright left the striker with too much to do, and his rushed effort was sliced wide.

In an effort to change the game, Simpson threw on winger Jake Sheridan and attacking midfielder Bohan Dixon and the two nearly combined when Sheridan’s cross and defender Tom Miller’s knock down created an opportunity for Dixon; however his tame header was easily gathered by Puddy.

Even with seven minutes of additional time following injuries to Imps’ defender Nat Brown and Salisbury striker Fitchett, a lacklustre Lincoln just couldn’t fashion an equaliser. A harmless Dixon header late on was the closest they came, and the result could’ve been worse had Wright done better with a chance deep into injury time.

Despite today’s result, Lincoln remain in the play-off places with 13 points from the first seven games. They will, however, need to improve ahead of next weekend’s game away to Edgar Davids’ high flying Barnet. Salisbury meanwhile move up to 13th place, and continue their decent start to the season following last season’s promotion from the Conference South.

Attendance: 2,646 (32 visitors.)

Player Ratings

Paul Farman – 6. Couldn’t do anything with the goal; however his kicking was hit and miss.

Tom Miller – 6. Struggled to get into the game in an attacking sense, however was solid defensively.

Andrew Boyce – 6. Reasonably solid.

Nat Brown – 4. Gave the ball away far too much with aimless hoofing up the pitch.

Sean Newton – 6. Good first half, however struggled to get involved in the second half.

Luke Foster – 6. Protected the defence well, however was sacrificed early into the second half for Sheridan. (Off 53’ for Sheridan.)

Mamadou Fofana – 5. Struggled to impose himself on the game for such a big man.

Jon Nolan – 6. Never stopped running and always wanted the ball, however he struggled to do anything meaningful with it.

Danny Rowe – 7. Always looking to link the midfield and the attack, and was a threat from free kicks. The Linc’s man of the match. (Off 76’ for Dixon.)

Waide Fairhurst – 5. Tried hard, however a complete lack of service meant that he was often on the periphery of the game. (Off 83’ for Yussuf.)

Ben Tomlinson – 5. Had the same issues as Fairhurst.

Jake Sheridan – 6. Looked lively and provided some much needed width on the right hand side.

Bohan Dixon – 4. Didn’t make the most of a couple of headed chances he had.

Adi Yussuf – 5. Didn’t get involved in the short time he had on the pitch.