Lincoln City came away with a 1-0 win in a tight final game of the season to make sure they finished in League One’s top half. A second-half Matty Virtue goal was enough to secure all three points against Shrewsbury Town, despite Max Sanders missing a penalty after Chey Dunkley’s straight red card late on.
Before the game, Mark Kennedy listed two changes from the side that lost 3-2, after being 2-0 up, to Morecambe last weekend. Adam Jackson marked his 100th Imps appearance as he replaced Sean Roughan, and Dylan Duffy came in for Danny Mandroiu.
Shrewsbury boss Steve Cotterill named an unchanged team from his side’s 2-1 victory against Bristol Rovers. The midweek win over The Gas ended a dismal run of 8 winless games.
Lincoln had also undergone a change of fortunes, falling to consecutive defeats for the first time since March, after a promising run of six unbeaten games.
Avoiding defeat would secure a top-half finish for the Imps, while Shrewsbury had to win to make it a certainty for them. That being said, a Fleetwood loss against Ipswich would mean both of today’s teams finished in the top-half.
The visiting Salop had the odds stacked against them with a recent run of 8 away games without a win. The Imps had lost only two home games all campaign heading into the final day.
It was a first half devoid of chances, with only a sole shot on target between both sides.
Shrewsbury Town enjoyed more of the action in the first 45, hitting the post through a Luke Leahy header early on. Chey Dunkley then forced an impressive save from goalkeeper Carl Rushworth, as he headed a corner towards goal from close range.
Ryan Bowman and a second Chey Dunkley header were the only other chances in the half for the Shrews, as they lacked any real energy in front of goal.
Lincoln City were toothless up front during the first-half too, not even producing a single clear cut chance. The best effort was Paudie O’Connor heading wide from a free kick, before he picked up a yellow card for an industrial challenge a few minutes later.
Regan Poole and Ben House made some promising build-up play towards the half-hour mark, but neither man could fashion a true chance.
Adam Jackson marked the signing of his new 2-year contract with the Imps this week, but wasn’t called into any heroics in the opening half. Shrewsbury did enjoy the better chances, though even their best effort didn’t trouble the scoreboard operator.
Lincoln City took the lead in the second-half and managed to see off the Shrews to win their final game of the season. Matty Virtue’s strike after 73 minutes meant the Imps came away with the win, as he powered the ball home from a scramble in the box from a long throw.
At the break, Adam Jackson made way for Sean Roughan. The second-half began in brighter fashion than the first, with Shrewsbury Town going close. Rob Street hit the bar and had an effort blocked, and Jordan Shipley squandered a golden opportunity when one-on-one with Carl Rushworth.
Salop were appealing for a penalty on the hour-mark as claims of handball came from all those in blue and yellow, but the referee waved them away.
After 70 minutes, Matty Virtue fired a fierce volley towards the net, forcing Marko Marosi into a cracking save. Then, came the goal as Virtue notched his second goal in as many games, powering the ball through a crowded box.
Ben House looked to add a second as he turned and shot in the box, but his shot was unbelievably blocked. Lincoln really came into things after the hour mark, withstanding early second-half pressure from the Shrews and battling back.
Matty Virtue nearly added his second, Ben House shot wide and Max Sanders curled the ball into Marosi’s hands before the Imps had their best chance for an insurance goal.
Chey Dunkley took down Ben House as he charged towards goal, leaving referee Andy Haines no option but to show Dunkley a red card and point to the penalty spot. After a melee between players of both teams, Max Sanders was finally allowed to take his spot-kick, but his shot, into the bottom-left corner, was met by the gloves of Marko Marosi.
Despite some intense Shrewsbury pressure in additional time, the Imps saw out the rest of the game to end their season in winning ways.
Full-Time: Lincoln City 1 – 0 Shrewsbury Town
Lincoln City maintained a top-half finish with their win, finishing the season strong after consecutive defeats leading into it. Shrewsbury ultimately finished in the top-half too, as Fleetwood only managed a point against Ipswich.
After the game, Lasse Sorensen, Regan Poole, Carl Rushworth and Paudie O’Connor received player of the season awards and the entire squad did their lap of honour around the LNER Stadium.