Lincoln City hosted Everton U21’s in a battling round of 16 tie in the Papa John’s Trophy. Eventually, it was the Imps who came out on top 4-2 as they progressed into the final 8 teams.

The Imps made 6 changes from the team that drew with Wycombe on Saturday, with Wright, Hopper, Mandroiu, Sorensen, Eyoma and Roughan all making their way into the starting 11.

Kick Off:

The first 20 minutes were very even, with Danny Mandroiu having a free-kick in a dangerous area deflected through the wall, forcing a save from Zan-Luk Leban. Everton would respond with a chance for themselves, as Owen Barker had a shot saved well by Jordan Wright.

These were the best chances in the opening half an hour, with both teams playing good football but no clear-cut chances.

Lincoln began to try and show that this was men vs boys just after the half an hour mark. A good ball was played to Regan Poole, whose right-footed effort drilled underneath Leban and into the bottom left corner.

A notable battle within the opening half was down the right side of Lincoln’s defence, with Poole and Kouyate having head-to-head battles on multiple occasions, with the Imps defender coming out on top.

It was overall an even half in terms of possession, with Lincoln having better chances going forward and being the more clinical team by converting one of very few chances.

Half Time Lincoln 1:0 Everton U21’s

Groundsmen at the Imps were praised at fulltime for their efforts to ensure the game went ahead.

Second Half:

The second half got off to a blistering start for the away side. A good ball out wide to Tom Cannon was met with a fantastic cross to Lincoln’s back post, where an unmarked Francis Okoronkwo finished the Everton move with his first touch of the game, just 3 minutes into the second half.

This fired Everton’s Academy team into life, and their burst of intensity was too much for the home side to handle. Okoronkwo delivered a threaded pass through to Cannon, whose first-time effort from outside the box curled over Wright and into the back of the net.

Within the first 5 minutes of the half, the home side found themselves 2:1 down.

Suddenly, the game turned to life. Lincoln started to press themselves, and in their first chance to get forward in the half, captain Tom Hopper was taken down in the box by an Everton defender, to which the referee had no choice other than to point to the spot. The calm head of Jack Diamond converted the penalty, opening the game up once again.

The second half had a very different dynamic to that of the first, with both teams creating more chances, showing they want to push themselves into contention for a Wembley trip.

The Imps gave themselves the lead once again with just under 20 minutes to go, after an overhit ball from Everton came to goalkeeper Wright, and when the ball sent upfield was knocked on by Hopper to Poole, the resulting cross from the byline fell to the free Sean Roughan, with a good finish from a tight angle to give the hosts the advantage.

Both full backs have now scored their first goals of the season, Roughan’s being the first of his professional career.

The third Lincoln goal changed the game, as Everton got more desperate to find an equaliser, leading to more errors and giving Lincoln the freedom to dictate play and see the game out on their way to the quarter finals.

A major worry for Lincoln fans came as substitute Ben House was caught on the head by the boot of an Everton defender in stoppage time, before being stretchered off.

Jack Diamond finished the game off with the last kick of the game. Everton goalkeeper Leban came forward for a late free kick, to which Lincoln countered. Diamond drove from the halfway line and rolled the ball into an empty net.

Full Time Lincoln 4:2 Everton U21’s

Lincoln showed too much quality for the Everton Academy side, despite the youth teams best efforts. Everton gave Lincoln a strong contest, but the Imps converted more chances.

The next round of the Papa John’s Trophy will be played on  January 11th, with the draw taking place in due course.