By Nick Lough
Lincoln United extended their unbeaten run to three games in all tournaments after being held to a 1-1 draw with Carlton Town on Tuesday evening.
The Whites took the lead after just seven minutes through Andrew Toyne’s fizzing effort from a corner, before veteran midfielder Anthony Howell slammed home from close range on the hour mark to secure a point for the Nottinghamshire club.
Carlton got us underway and immediately began to press the Whites’ back-line, forcing an early corner.
A wicked delivery from the left by Tom McConway was met by the head of Anthony Howell at the back-post, with the former Mansfield Town midfielder’s knock-down across the face of goal met by Romello Nangle.
The Millers top scorer took a touch before shooting low through a crowd of players, but his effort was comfortably held by Whites ‘keeper Sam Vince.
Despite their early pressure it was a set-piece that came straight from the training ground that handed the hosts a seventh minute lead.
Matthew Cotton found striker Andrew Toyne completely unmarked with a low corner towards the edge of the penalty box, with the forward’s fierce drive taking a deflection on its way through a crowd of players before nestling in the bottom right hand corner of the net.
With the wind in their sails, Lincoln began to take charge of the fixture as Toyne came close to doubling his side’s lead after running clean through on goal before slicing wide on the wet turf.
However they had to be careful of a Millers counter-attack, with Carlton’s Tony Law illustrating that point after the striker forced Vince into a fine save with a rasping effort from 16 yards.
Searching for a second that would give the Whites an all-important two-goal cushion almost came to fruition when they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area midway through the first-half.
Up stepped Daniel Brooks to take aim from 18 yards, and the Whites central-midfielder couldn’t come much closer to doubling the lead after striking the outside of the post with Carlton goalkeeper Jack Steggles beaten all ends up.
It was all Lincoln for the remainder of the half, with Dave Frecklington’s men playing some exquisite football at times. Passing sequences fit for the Football League, Brooks’ second free-kick of the night just before the interval almost found the top right-hand corner of the net with only the whip on the ball taking it wide.
The Whites kicked off the second period immediately on the back-foot as Carlton flew out of the traps with Nangle again the focal point of the attack. The forward got in behind the Lincoln defence but fluffed his lines after curling his shot narrowly wide of the post.
Just before the hour mark Carlton’s pressure paid off. With the game paused for a few minutes for one of the visiting players to receive treatment in the penalty area, McConway’s corner was only half cleared by the Lincoln defence.
Lurking in the box was Howell, and the Millers’ captain showed his experience in being in the right place at the right time by rifling home from eight yards when gifted the opportunity of an equaliser.
With the game plateauing as both teams cancelled each other out in midfield, we entered the final 10 minutes of the match still all square at 1-1.
Lincoln United almost came away with all three points after Jordan Lemon’s lung-bursting down the right hand ended with a pull-back to Cotton at the by-line, but the Whites striker was superbly denied by Steggles who parried the ball away to safety.
With neither side able to find the killer blow in the four minutes of added time, referee Christopher
Ward blew full-time on the competitive affair as the two sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Lincoln United: Vince, Wright, Gibson, Brooks, Jacklin ©, Ward (Batchelor, 79), Smith (Lemon, 68), McGovern, Cotton, Toyne, Grimes.
Substitutes not used: McDaid, Parker, Townsend.
Goals: Toyne (7’)
Carlton Town: Steggles, Kenton-Bradshaw, Wholey, Walker, Asare (Gordon, 45), McConway, Nangle, Howell ©, T. Law (Fletcher, 85), Rae, Halliday (Lusamba, 65).
Substitutes not used: Maveso, J. Law.
Goals: Howell (58’)Tweet