Table-topping Lincoln City march on as they cruise past Dover Athletic

Lincoln City made it back-to-back wins in three days, as they cruised past fifth placed Dover Athletic at Sincil Bank.

The Imps won 2-0 thanks to an own goal by Dover’s Tyrone Sterling, and an excellent solo goal by Terry Hawkridge to seal the three points, as well as cementing City’s position at the top of the league, which extends to five points.

After the historic win earlier in the week against Ipswich Town in the third round of the FA Cup, it was another difficult test for City at Sincil Bank.

It was the hgihest attendance for a league match this season at Sincil Bank. (Photo: Danyal Khan)

Dover came into the game as the highest scorers in the league, scoring 58 goals in the National League so far, with star striker Ricky Miller scoring an astonishing 25 goals for the Whites.

After such a demanding game on Tuesday in the cup, which would’ve drained City emotionally and physically, the Imps could have been argued to have gone into the game as underdogs, as Dover had an extra seven days rest and also have the talents of imposing striker Ross Lafayette and the pacy Moses Emmanuel in their attack to support Miller.

However City were…well, fine.

Like many games this season, Danny Cowley’s Imps started the better of the two sides, with left-back Sam Habergham and winger Terry Hawkridge causing havoc on the left-wing.

As on Tuesday, City benefited from Hawkridge’s composure and guile on the ball, and he was instrumental in the Imps’ first goal in the 9th minute.

After neat play by Hawkridge, he put through his left-back, and Habergham drilled a hard, low cross and despite it not finding an Imps player, Dover’s Sterling could only divert the cross into his own net.

With Miller lacking the capabilities to track Habergham’s marauding runs down the wing, him and Hawkridge dominated the first half, and they almost made it 2-0 on the 20th minute.

This time, the left-back set up Hawkridge, who cut in off the left flank and unleashed a hard shot, however Dover ‘keeper Steve Arnold comfortably saved to keep the Whites in the game.

Despite Dover hardly troubling City in open play, they did have a chance before the end of the half, when Miller whipped in a free-kick and captain Jamie Grimes headed an opportunity well wide.

Into stoppage time, and Miller showed why he’s one of the most sought out strikers in the National League as he found himself in the City box, the ball delivered just over his shoulder and he volleyed spectacularly into the corner with City’s Paul Farman stretching and just managing to save his speculative shot.

The second half was decided by which side could be the more clinical, and after both sides hit  the bar through Sean Long’s cross which had beaten Arnold, and then Miller’s well-taken free-kick, the game was in the balance.

However, the best player on the pitch, Hawkridge, showed why he’s one of Cowley’s first names on the team-sheet on the 82nd minute, as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box and expertly dispatched his shot in the bottom left corner, Arnold unsighted and helpless.

City saw out the game, and despite playing just three days earlier, they eased to the finish line and are now five points ahead of the chasing pack.

Imps manager Cowley gave his players all the plaudits after the impressive win.

He said: “That’s my favourite win, it’s a testament to the players, to their resolve, and to their determination.”

“I thought to a man we defended brilliantly, Dover ask you a lot of questions, but I thought we did well.

“We wanted to get Ricky Miller and Moses Emmanuel away from our goal as much as possible and we did that, we excited the plan well.

“There was always going to be a time when we’d tire, and that’s the time you dig in, you have to dig deep and we saw it out, it was also a fantastic strike by Terry.”

Goal-scorer and man of the match Hawkridge also spoke to LincSport, and said his good form is a testament to his manager and hard-work.

“I just think listening to the gaffer and listening to what the team want me to do, everyone’s fighting for the shirt and it’s important to keep doing well to keep the shirt, and the guys help me through that,” Hawkridge said.

Hawkridge also discussed one of his trademarks in recent games…the nutmeg, which he’s pulled off numerous times in the last two games.

“The nutmegs… it’s just something that comes off, if it comes off it looks good, the most important thing is the three points and hopefully we keep it going.

And after signing for the Imps last season, the winger is loving life at Sincil Bank:

“I’ve settled in, I bought a house last year and Lincoln’s a nice place, it’s going well at the club and everything here is fantastic.”

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