Lincoln City beat Tranmere to go top of the National League

Adam Marriott’s goal ten minutes from time moved Lincoln City to the top of the National League with a 2-1 win over former leaders Tranmere Rovers.

In what was a keenly fought contest throughout between the league’s top two, the
Imps took an early lead through Nathan Arnold but were pegged back through Jeff
Hughes’ penalty on the half hour.

And with both sides seeking a late winner, it was Marriott who popped up with
the decisive goal to send Lincoln to the top of the pile.

A big crowd turned out to see the Imps go top of the National League (Photo: Sam Hewitt)

A big crowd turned out to see the Imps go top of the National League (Photo: Sam Hewitt)

In front of a bumper crowd of more than 6,000 fans inside Sincil Bank, it was
the Imps who started the brighter, so much so that Tranmere hadn’t even got out
of their own half before Lincoln took a third minute lead. Sam Habergham’s long
throw was flicked on, and Arnold guided a header beyond Scott Davies’ reach and
into the bottom corner to give Danny Cowley’s men the dream start.

Minutes later, Matt Rhead found himself in space in the box but his powerful
effort didn’t come close to troubling Davies.

It was a lively start to the game, and only nine minutes had passed when
Tranmere had their first genuine sight of goal. James Norwood threaded Andy
Mangan through on goal, the striker rounding Paul Farman but finding the angle
too tight to slot home and Farman recovered to parry wide.

Then followed a quieter twenty minutes as both sides settled into the game.
Terry Hawkridge’s long range effort bounced awkwardly in front of Davies, who
held on at the second attempt, before Tranmere pulled level on the half hour.
Mangan was about to latch onto a through ball when he went down under the
challenge of Callum Howe. Referee Craig Hicks pointed to the spot, and Hughes
emphatically converted the resulting penalty.

The Imps were rattled by both Tranmere’s equaliser and their style of play, and
Davies wasn’t called into action for the remainder of the half.

The opening stages of the second half were keenly contested – Farman was called
into action by a right wing corner that he had to prevent finding the back of
the net, before Theo Robinson rounded Davies but found the angle too narrow and
a visiting defender diverted the ball wide.

From the resulting corner, Rovers broke forward, and James Norwood struck low
but straight at Farman as the game started to open up around the hour mark.

Then, Norwood found himself up against Howe and cut inside, only to scuff his
shot and Farman easily saved.

As the game entered the final twenty minutes, it was the visitors who were on
top. Lois Maynard shot wide from the edge of the box and Richie Sutton’s
downward far post header was saved before, at the other end, Robinson lofted a
bouncing ball well over.

Then, Farman had to deal with a powerful low effort from substitute James Kirby
to keep his side on level terms before substitute Marriott netted with his first
touch.

He had been on the pitch for less than sixty seconds when he latched onto
Arnold’s through ball and coolly slotted into the far corner to send five and a
half thousand Imps fans wild.

There were five minutes of stoppage time at the end, but Tranmere rarely saw a
sight of goal thanks to a Lincoln back line led superbly by captain Luke
Waterfall.

Their only late chance came when Mangan’s shot clipped the base of the post with
Farman beaten, and City held on for the win that puts them top of the pile in
the National League.

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