In a disappointing match all round for the Imps, the returning Cowley brothers left the LNER with three points and three goals without reply from the hosts.

Goals from Marcus Harness, George Hirst and Reeco Hackett-Fairchild left Appleton’s side frustrated.

Prior to the contest, Lincoln sat in 16th place with 21 points, five points adrift of 9th placed Portsmouth with a game in hand.

Michael Appleton made two changes to the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Doncaster Rovers, bringing in Ted Bishop for the injured Anthony Scully and 17-year-old striker Freddie Draper for his first League One start for Dan Nlundulu.

The home support gave the returning Cowley’s an unsurprisingly positive reception before kick-off.

Neither side were making too many inroads into enemy territory in the first 10 minutes, but the Imps created the first chance of the game which saw Ted Bishop’s effort from 20 yards held well by Republic of Ireland international Gavin Bazunu.

The first chance of the game seemed to wake the visitors up, and Josh Griffith’s had to react well to palm away a well struck effort from Ronan Curtis in the 13th minute.

Portsmouth move the ball forward
Photo credit: Jack Macdonald

Portsmouth continued to look the most likely to go ahead with the lively forward Curtis dragging an effort just wide, and two minutes later left back Connor Ogilvie saw his goal bound effort blocked excellently on the edge of the six-yard box by Lewis Montsma.

Counter-attacking play was starting to look like the best bet for the hosts and a huge penalty claim was waved away by referee Ross Joyce in the 39th minute. A flick by Draper set Lasse Sorensen bearing down on goal before being bundled to the ground by Ogilvie, but Joyce waved play on.

The visitors nearly took the lead just before the break in spectacular fashion. An incredible run from George Hirst saw him collect the ball in his own half before taking on three players, but Griffiths stood tall to save. However, it would not be long before Portsmouth found the breakthrough.

In the third minute of additional time a cut back was blocked by Montsma straight into the path of Marcus Harness who scored his 8th goal of the season smashing the ball into the top corner to the delight of the noisy 746 strong travelling support. Lincoln City 0-1 Portsmouth.

A disappointing first half from the Imps with limited chances saw them behind at the interval.


Danny Cowley’s men continued to dominate proceedings at the start of the second half.

Good work from Curtis in the 52nd minute on the left wing to find right back Mahlon Romeo who hit a fizzing right footed drive from the edge of the box which beat Griffiths in the Lincoln goal but bounced back off the left-hand post.

The home side however were looking a lot livelier than in the first 45, and 57 minutes in Chris Maguire jinked his way past the Portsmouth defence before unleashing a powerful strike which curled past the top right corner.

A positive change from Appleton saw Dan Nlundulu enter the field in place of Ted Bishop in the 58th minute.

The task for the Imps would get even tougher however, when the visitors doubled their lead in the 66th minute through George Hirst. His flick at the near post beat Griffiths and nestled into the bottom left corner. Lincoln City 0-2 Portsmouth.

Portsmouth celebrate their second goal – photo credit: Jack Macdonald

Lincoln heads didn’t drop though and very nearly equalised through substitute Hakeeb Adelakun, who turned in the box and saw his snapshot fumbled by Manchester City loanee Bazunu.

Like the hosts in the first half, the visiting support and players were adamant they should have been awarded a spot kick when Curtis was knocked over in the box, but again Joyce saw nothing doing.

With only ten minutes remaining substitute Nlundulu very nearly gave his side some hope, making a nice run to evade his man at the front post but could only poke wide on the stretch from 6 yards out.

The game was well and truly over in the 89th minute when the away side made it 3-0.

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild’s tame free kick hit the wall, but the winger didn’t mess about as the ball bounced back to him by smashing a right footed shot from 20 yards right into the bottom left corner. Lincoln City 0-3 Portsmouth.

City continued to push forward despite the three goal deficit but couldn’t find a consolation.

The Imps welcome Accrington Stanley next to the LNER on Saturday looking to make amends.