Lincoln United earned a dramatic point in stoppage time against Stamford at Ashby Avenue on Saturday afternoon.
Lincoln went into the game full of confidence after last week’s 2-1 victory over Pontefract Collieries, which had seen the Whites rise into second place.
The opening exchanges were fairly physical with several aerial challenges resulting in referee Mark Thomas awarding free- kicks. One of these afforded Matt Cotton an early opportunity in the Stamford area but he failed to bring the ball under his control.
Stamford were next to threaten with Liam Adams causing Scott Matthews some problems down the Lincoln left. Michael Emery was able to collect the header from the resulting corner.
Lincoln thought they’d taken the lead from a corner minutes later, with Skipper Sean Wright’s header hitting the net, however, the referee adjudged a foul to have taken place in the box.
Moments later, Stamford went ahead. A free kick was whipped deep into the Lincoln area and Joe Burgess guided a strong header into the corner of the Lincoln net.
In the previous weekend’s fixture, Lincoln had responded brilliantly to going behind. This wasn’t the case on this occasion as Stamford built on their lead, applying real pressure to Lincoln.
The lead was doubled by Jon Challinor just before the half hour mark. Michael Jacklin had made a crucial intervention at the back moments previously for the Whites. However, the defence could do nothing to stop Challinor rising highest in the box to nod home Stamford’s second. Lincoln were left shell shocked and with a mountain to climb with half an hour gone.
The Whites did have an opportunity to strike back soon after. Grimes’ blazed over from the edge of the box as Lincoln looked to regroup after such a poor start.
However, things almost went from bad to worse after half an hour. The home side had Emery to thank for the score remaining 2-0. The stopper producing an outstanding save to deny Liam Adams at close range.
There was further concern for Lincoln minutes after. Bradley Fortnum-Tomlinson headed over when well placed in the box. The home team struggling to pick up any sort of momentum with the defence coming under frequent pressure.
Fortunately, they were gifted a route back into the game on 35 minutes. A shocking mix up between a Stamford defender and goalkeeper Daniel Haystead allowed Cotton to capitalise and halve the deficit.
This sparked the home side into life somewhat, Grimes having a header smartly saved by Haystead shortly after. The game then drifted towards half time without further incident, Lincoln going into the break thankful for Emery’s fine save at 2-0 and encouraged by the fact they were able to gain a foot-hold in the game through Cotton’s goal.
The start of the second half saw Stamford make the first substitution of the game, Joe Boachie replacing Fortnum-Tomlinson.
The half burst into life on 50 minutes after Josh Nichol went down in the box claiming a penalty. After the referee ignored these calls, Nichol showed dissent and was given a second yellow card and removed from the game.
Soon after, Stamford looked to capitalise on their man advantage. Emery was again forced into action, making two fantastic saves, the second of which denied Boachie as he raced through one-on-one.
Following this, Sam Wilkinson made his first intervention of the afternoon. Tom Garrick replaced debutant Lyndon Karkach.
Lincoln struggled with the task of creating chances whilst playing with less men and Stamford could have extended their lead when Boachie set up a headed chance for Adams who couldn’t convert.
The home side sensed the opportunity to make Stamford pay for their wastefulness and captain Wright had a header tipped narrowly over the bar.
As the game entered its last ten minutes though, the visitors again came close to scoring what would surely have been a decisive goal. Player of the month Jacklin produced an astonishing goal-line clearance and Lincoln stayed in the game.
Grant Ryan volleyed over the last of the visitors numerous chances to clinch the points with three minutes remaining.
Stamford were left rueing their wastefulness as Lincoln produced a dramatic finale in injury time. Substitute Tom Garrick slid onto a ball across the box and gave the Whites what had seemed an unlikely equaliser.
The result was confirmed minutes later with Lincoln delighted to clinch a late point despite their one man disadvantage, with goalkeeper Michael Emery and defender Michael Jacklin producing significant contributions to keep them in the game. Stamford will have to look at their second half finishing and wonder how they didn’t come away with all three points.
Lincoln now look ahead to an away trip at Spalding, where they will look to build on the momentum of their spirited 10 man display against Stamford.
Look out for the highlights of this game on the Linc Sport website and on Twitter @LincSport.Tweet