Late Sean Wright goal ensures Lincoln United cement play-off position

A late Sean Wright header saw Lincoln United grab a crucial 1-0 victory against playoff rivals Basford United in the Evo-Stik First Division South on Tuesday night.

The Whites were reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes remaining when Jordan Lemon was sent off but against the odds they found a late winner when defender Wright headed in Robert Norris’ corner from close range.

It was billed at Lincoln United's biggest game in 15 years, but they passed the test with flying colours (Photo: James Williams)

It was billed at Lincoln United’s biggest game in 15 years, but they passed the test with flying colours (Photo: James Williams)

Going into the match, United knew they could close the gap on Basford to five points with a win and would still have two games in hand on their opponents.

They were dealt a major blow before the match had even kicked off with striker Jack McGovern and goalkeeper Richard Walton both ruled out through injury.

However, this didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on United who dominated large periods of the first half.

On 17 minutes, Gary King’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was deflected narrowly wide. From the resulting corner, the ball was headed out to Robert Norris whose volley from 25 yards out grazed the crossbar on its way over.

A few minutes later, Basford created their first opening when Antony Griffiths escaped clear down the right hand side. His ball across the face of goal was completely missed by Stuart Hendrie and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, who was following in behind, could only poke the ball over the crossbar.

On the half hour mark it was United’s turn to flash a ball across the six yard
box but no one could get on the end of King’s cross.

With half-time approaching, the Whites almost opened the scoring. Matt Cotton was brought down as he ran towards the Basford penalty area but the ball broke for King inside the penalty area. However, King could only drag his shot well wide of the right hand post.

Seconds before the interval, United threatened again. This time good hold up play from the dangerous Cotton brought Mitchell Griffiths into play. His cross was nodded down by King for the onrushing Norris whose shot flew inches over the crossbar.

The early stages of the second half were scrappy and tight but there were signs that Basford were beginning to grow into the game.

And on 58 minutes they should have taken the lead. A free-kick from the halfway line was launched into the United penalty area where Mason Rowley headed over from close range.

Fifteen minutes later, things did take a turn for the worse for the Whites, when right-back Lemon was sent off for a second bookable offence.

After a late challenge in the first half earnt himself his first booking, Lemon brought down a Basford attacker in an attempt stop a quick counter attack by the visitors. The referee showed no hesitation in showing the United defender a second yellow and therefore a red card.

As a matter of fact, the red card seemed to spring United into life again and on 79 minutes, King turned a Basford defender inside out but could only fire his shot straight at goalkeeper Saul Deeney.

Then with seconds of normal time remaining, the big moment came. After a series of United free-kicks and corners, Basford finally buckled under the pressure when Sean Wright climbed highest to head Norris’ corner into the back of the net.

Four minutes of stoppage time followed, in which the United players flung their bodies in front of everything Basford threw at them.

And that proved to be enough. The final whistle was greeted with scenes of jubilation both on and off the pitch as the Whites condemned Basford to their first defeat of 2016.

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