Lincoln City stretch unbeaten run to four with home win over Southport

A brace from James Caton and a goal from second half substitute Robbie McDaid earned Lincoln City a 3-1 victory over Southport to send them within two points of the National League play-off places.

(Picture: James Williams)

(Picture: James Williams)

Chris Moyses named an unchanged starting line-up from the side that drew 3-3 away to Altrincham seven days earlier.

Both sides struggled to adapt to the wet and windy conditions at Sincil Bank, resulting in a slow start to the affair, with the majority of the play lacking quality and taking place in the middle third of the pitch.

The first opportunity of note fell to the home side after ten minutes. The Imps’ top goalscorer, Matt Rhead, came close to adding to his tally of 22 goals in all competitions this season when he was inches away from meeting Jack Muldoon’s cross at the back post, however the frontman failed to make contact by a matter of inches.

Muldoon was involved a few minutes later down City’s left, playing a reverse pass into Caton’s feet in the penalty area, however the winger’s shot from a tight angle was easily held by Southport’s goalkeeper Max Crocombe.

The home side continued to pile the pressure on what looked like a fragile Southport defence, and it was penetrated again in the 20th minute. After a neat exchange of passes between Bradley Wood and Terry Hawkbridge, the latter delivered a deep cross into the box, but Muldoon could only angle his header tamely wide of the ‘keeper’s left-hand post.

The Imps side then struck the woodwork seconds later. Caton’s dangerous, inswinging cross was headed almost inadvertently into his own net by Southport’s central defender Josh Thompson, however fortunately for the away side, it hit the top of the crossbar.

Following a quiet spell midway through the first half, City took a deserved lead just after the half hour mark. Crocombe failed to deal with a third Imps corner in as many minutes, and Caton pounced on the ball to sweep into the net from the penalty spot to send Moyses’ side into half-time one goal to the good.

City started the second half very much in the same fashion as they had played the majority of the first; putting Southport under pressure and forcing a succession of crosses and corners, and the home side almost doubled their advantage as a result. Caton once again showed his versatility with both feet, this time crossing with his left foot. Rhead rose highest, but diverted his header narrowly wide of the target.

The Imps did not have to wait long, though, to double their advantage, and did so on the hour mark. Caton and Muldoon exchanged passes down City’s left to cut open the Southport back line and leave them simply watching as Caton beat the offside trap to go through one-on-one and finish calmly to the goalkeeper’s left; his second of the match and his third in as many games.

Within a matter of minutes, the Sincil Bank crowd were stunned when Southport managed to get a goal back out of absolutely nothing from their only shot on target throughout the contest. The ball fell to Louis Almond on the edge of the box who rifled it into the corner to give the 91 travelling supporters hope, and to set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the home faithful.

The home side’s slender advantage never really looked in doubt, and after forcing a few half-chances, second half substitute Robbie McDaid made absolutely sure of the three points with his first goal for the club. Southport were caught with too many bodies committed forward in search of an equaliser. Hawkbridge found McDaid with time and space to turn in the penalty area and fire into the bottom left corner with a minute of normal time remaining.

The 3-1 result flattered Southport whose poor performance, along with the Imps’ dominance, gave the latter a thoroughly deserved victory; their third consecutive home win. City’s four-game unbeaten run has left them just two points outside the National League play-off places.