Lincoln United found themselves outplayed and outclassed as they went down 3-2 to Northwich Victoria at Ashby Avenue on Saturday evening.
The opening exchanges of the match centred round Northwich, as they sustained pressure in the first ten minutes of the game. John Protchard was unlucky to not put the visitors’ one goal to the good as he had a fierce free kick saved by United keeper Mario Ziccardi on 11 minutes.
Lincoln finally found their feet just inside the 20 minute mark and in the 17th minute, Andy Toyne was unlucky not to put away his effort on goal. The midfielder was picked out by a wicked ball from team mate Gary King and fired just over.
After a lot of possession and multiple chances, Lincoln finally broke Northwich down on the 26th minute. Jordan Hempenstall managed to poke the ball past keeper Mason Springthorpe after he had parried out a speculative United effort.
Two minutes later though, the hosts were too relaxed and Northwich managed to grab an equaliser. Matthew Clarke took advantage of a lack of concentration from the Lincoln defence and was gifted the chance by a Ziccardi error.
It wasn’t a long wait for another Northwich goal, as they went 2-1 up in the 32nd minute. Matthew Clarke grabbed his second of the game. After a number of chances in as many minutes, the striker managed to get a deflected shot past Ziccardi and give Northwich the upper hand.
From then on, United keeper Ziccardi looked shaky for United. Despite him not conceding again before half time, he parried a few shots out and presented the visitors with a few rebounds.
Lincoln had it all to do in the second half but they almost got off to a dream start. Hempenstall almost found his second of the game after finding space in the Northwich box. The attacker fired just wide of the mark after great interplay with Matt Cotton.
For the next ten minutes, the game turned sour and a few strong challenges crept into the game. Despite United captain Michael Jacklin making two fantastic challenges in this period, Northwich weren’t on the same wavelength. Left back Kieran Nolan found himself in the book for a malicious tackle on Lincoln defender Luke Hornsey.
With the game becoming scrappy, the chances dried up for both sides. However, Jack McGovern made the most of some slack Northwich defending to work an effort at Springthorpe in net. The keeper dealt with it effectively and manged to parry it out for a United corner.
The hosts efforts were in vain though, as Northwich made it 3-1 in the 78th minute. Jamie Hinchcliffe fired home from 12 yards after some neat play down the right from Kieran Nolan.
Lincoln needed a hero in the final 10 minutes of play at Ashby Avenue. Jordan Hempenstall was vying for that title as he cut the deficit in the last minute of the game to make it 3-2. The attacker made some room for himself in the Northwich box before firing home his second of the game.
The late rally wasn’t enough though, Northwich manged to close the game out and left the ground with all three points.
Lincoln now find themselves in 18th position in the Evo-Stik First Division South. Although they have 5 games in hand on top of the table club Shaw Lane AFC, United will have to bounce back from this result if they have any chance of beating Stamford in the Lincolnshire Senior Shield on Tuesday.
After the game, Lincoln boss, Sam Wilkinson, said “Northwich deserved the victory today, we didn’t play as well as we could have done. I don’t feel hard done by with their goals today, they took them well”