Lincoln United ended their rotten run of eight defeats in nine with a late 2-1 win over high-flying Frickley Athletic at Ashby Avenue.
After their recent run saw them plummet down the table, not many would have given the Whites a chance against a Frickley side who sat in third at the start of play and came into the game off the back of a 6-0 win last week.
But substitute Matt Cotton’s header two minutes from time defied the odds to give Lincoln all three points, after Jacob Hazel had earlier equalised Andy Toyne’s first half opener.
The relief on Sam Wilkinson’s face at full time was evident, a huge weight lifted off his shoulders as the Whites end November on a high.
In truth, it was a win that Lincoln were good value for on a clear but cold afternoon at Ashby Avenue.
That said, Frickley started on the front foot and had more of the ball. They were direct in their play, getting the ball forward at the first opportunity but Phil McGann in Lincoln’s goal wasn’t tested in the opening stages.
And with the first real chance of the game, Lincoln took the lead. Toyne found half a yard in the right hand edge of the box, but was felled by Shaun Mitchell’s sliding challenge. Referee Gareth Davis pointed to the spot, and Toyne’s resulting spot kick found the corner despite Sebastian Malkowski getting a hand to it.
The Whites took confidence from that, and could have doubled their lead five minutes later but returning captain Phil Watt saw his header well saved.
As Frickley sought an equaliser, Hazel fired wide from the edge of the box and Danny Frost almost found himself through on goal but the recovering Watt and Callum Ward denied him a shot.
But the Whites continued to have the better chances, and should have made it 2-0 seven minutes before the break. Wilkinson had lamented his side’s inability to take their chances in previous weeks, and this was another prime example. Scott Matthews found himself through on goal, but never looked comfortable and took too long trying to shift back onto his favoured left foot, allowing Malkowski to make the save.
Tensions rose before the break, and both sides made some robust challenges in their desire to win. Lincoln’s Charlie Ward picked up a booking for a foul on Steve Hopewell which led to an angry reaction from the visitors on the stroke of the break, into which Lincoln carried their slender lead.
But one goal leads are always at risk of being cancelled out, and Frickley grabbed their equaliser 11 minutes into the second half. Hopewell found space down the right, and crossed for Hazel to touch beyond McGann at the near post.
With the scores now level, Frickley started to see more of the ball again but real goalmouth action was few and far between. The visitors threw plenty of aerial balls into the box, but Lincoln defended superbly and McGann was rarely forced into anything other than routine work.
But while McGann wasn’t tested, referee Davis was called into more action, showing a number of cards as the competitive edge continued into the second half.
Frickley’s best chance came with four minutes to play when Cameron Hough’s low cross found Tom Dugdale in space, but he couldn’t connect from 12 yards and the chance was gone.
That was to prove costly when Lincoln’s next attack yielded the winner. It came from Watt’s free kick on halfway, with all three of Wilkinson’s substitutes involved in the goal. Ryan Oliver won the initial header for Jack McGovern to latch onto. From the right hand side, McGovern’s cross into a dangerous area was met by the onrushing Cotton, who got between two defenders to nod home from close range and give Lincoln the lead again.
And despite having to play the four minutes of stoppage time with ten men after Toyne picked up his second booking, Lincoln restricted Frickley’s sights of goal.
To a man, they defended superbly and the visitors never looked like scoring a second as Lincoln took all three points for just the second time in ten games.Tweet