Second half goals see Lincoln City ease past Dagenham

Second half goals from Elliott Whitehouse and Matt Rhead gave Lincoln City their second win in three days with a 2-0 success over Dagenham and Redbridge.

In front of a league high crowd of 7,173 at Sincil Bank, Imps fans saw their side start well but they couldn’t convert that early dominance into goals.

But once Whitehouse gave them the lead early in the second half, Lincoln never looked like dropping points and Rhead secured them midway through the half to ensure City remained top of the National League.

Lincoln City’s players celebrate and thank the fans after their 2-0 win over Dagenham and Redbridge

It was his side’s second game in three days, but Danny Cowley made just three changes to his side that beat Bromley on Saturday, re-introducing Bradley Wood, Whitehouse and Terry Hawkridge.

And the Imps started brightly, coming close for the first time just six minutes in. Sam Habergham stood a ball up to the far post, where Nathan Arnold side-footed a volley back across goal but narrowly wide.

Then, Lincoln’s high pressing game saw them catch Dagenham in possession 30 yards from the visitors’ goal. Hawkridge broke forward at pace and attempted to square to Lee Angol, but a visiting defender diverted just over his own bar.

The Daggers’ first sight of goal came 12 minutes in, when Corey Whitely’s angled drive flew harmlessly over Paul Farman’s goal, but City still retained the upper hand and were denied again when Whitehouse’s low drive was stopped by Elliot Justham.

But after that, the game became more scrappy and neither side could gain a stronghold. Rhead headed a Habergham cross comfortably wide five minutes before the interval in the only real goalmouth action of a quiet 25 minutes leading up to half time.

But if the end of the first half was devoid of goalmouth action, the start to the second was frantic. The goal that broke the deadlock two minutes after the break was, though, scrappy. Luke Waterfall’s header bounced against the post, and despite desperate Dagenham defending, Whitehouse prodded home from barely a yard out after a scramble in which Rhead had an effort blocked on the line.

Then, Habergham’s superb wide free kick was flicked over the bar for a corner, from which Sean Raggett glanced a header wide.

At the other end, Dagenham rarely threatened Farman’s goal, although Craig Robson blazed wildly over from 25 yards with their first shot of the second half.

Arnold then fired over in similar circumstances and Rhead headed Habergham’s long throw over as Lincoln sought the second goal that would put them in control.

And it came midway through the half. Arnold’s sublime left wing delivery was met by Rhead, who was afforded the freedom of the box to power a free header beyond Justham from six yards.

That put the Imps in cruise control and they never looked like conceding after that. Cowley’s side saw the game out comfortably with little other goalmouth action and moved three points clear of Tranmere Rovers at the top.

After the game, Danny Cowley was pleased with the focus of his side’s display. He said: “We always said that we wanted a real focus about our performance tonight and I thought we got that.

“We perhaps overused the diagonal a little bit in the first half so we reminded them at half time that there were other options and they used them well. Other than that, half time was about getting us to continue what we did in the first half but sometime they’re the most difficult to deliver.

“What was great to see, when I looked at the first goal back, was that it was a great cross from Nathan (Arnold), a great header from Luke (Waterfall) but there were four or five of our lads piling in to try and score.

“People think that that’s lucky and that it’s a scrappy goal but they’re the best ones to score.”