Lincoln United face setback in promotion bid after defeat to Stafford Rangers

Lincoln United remain in the Evo-Stik First Division South play-offs, despite a 1-0 defeat to Stafford Rangers at The Sun Hat Villas Stadium.

Before the match, the Whites picked up the award for team of the month in their division for December, having enjoyed a good spell with five wins in their last seven league matches, however the league leaders proved too strong for them on Saturday.

Lincoln United performed valiantly against the league leaders but they were beaten (Photo: Ollie Collins)

Lincoln United performed valiantly against the league leaders but they were beaten (Photo: Ollie Collins)

The first chance of the game fell to Stafford’s Jermaine Johnson in the third minute, who produced a volley from the edge of the box that fired just wide of the post.

Stafford found their stride after 18 minutes and began pressuring the Whites’ goal with back to back corners.

United’s defence didn’t seem to recover and after 20 minutes Stafford took the lead when Ben Haseley’s header beat Richard Walton at his near post.

The home side’s best chance of the first half came when Gary King dispossessed a defender only to fire agonisingly wide of the goal.

Only a minute later, Stafford were on the attack again and a fantastic sliding block from skipper Michael Jacklin prevented Levi Rowley from giving his side a two goal lead.

The half time whistle drew an end to a poor half for the Whites, who needed some serious improvements in the second half.

The second period began in a scrappy manner with both sides battling for possession, however neither team managed to control the game.

United boss Dave Frecklington tried to change the course of the game with a series of substitutions between the 60th and 70th minute. Matthew Cotton, Jake Gibson and Sean Cann all came on for the Whites.

In the 73rd minute, they had a chance to level the game. A goal mouth scramble tested the Stafford defence however the Ashby Avenue side couldn’t capitalise.

A series of hard challenges from both sides resulted in a confrontation between the players in which Kallum Smith and Wayne Daniel were booked, however Daniel was wrongfully shown a yellow card by referee Timothy Walker.

United continued to press late on with back to back corners in the 88th minute, causing problems for the Stafford defence, but the Whites couldn’t break through.

Captain Michael Jacklin was sent off in the 90th minute for an alleged elbow but the United bench clearly weren’t happy with the decision.

The final opportunity of the game came for the Whites in the sixth minute of added time but Jake Gibson missed the header from six yards.

Despite this defeat to Stafford, the Whites are still looking good for a play-off finish this season and will be hoping to get back on track away at Market Drayton on Saturday.

After the game Lincoln United boss Dave Frecklington said:

“First half we were shocking, we gave them far too much respect.”

“I had a few choice words with them at half time because it’s really unlike us to start a game like that.”

“I thought we regrouped well in the second half, we made a couple of changes and I thought we dominated the second half.”

“With a little bit more quality in the final third I think we could have got a result.”

Frecklington was clearly unhappy with the officials:

“They’re the worst three officials I’ve seen in my time at the club.”

“They were poor, weak and not good enough for this division.”