Lincoln City earned a point against league-leaders Loughborough Lightning on Sunday, but could not hold on for all three after conceding a stoppage time equaliser.
Manager Lee Mitchell spoke highly of his side. He said: “The way they played one of the best performances, all season against a top team.”
It was a strong start from the Imps as they took the lead after only 11 minutes, with a Maddi Green corner being forced into their own net by the Loughborough defence. Leah Hardy played a pivotal role in applying pressure to the defender that forced the ball over the line.
However, Lightning found an equaliser only ten minutes later, when Lauren Purchase found herself free at the back post, to slot home her first of the game to level proceedings.
The game became stretched, and both sides had chances. The visitors went close via a Toni McHamilton shot from the edge of the box, well held by goalkeeper Wong.
Loughborough would have taken the lead, if it wasn’t for a perfectly timed Ella Thompson-Moulding slide challenge inside the penalty area to block the strike.
The hosts did take the lead for the first time from the resulting corner with a deflected header, bouncing off the unfortunate Neve Hincks, rolling past Imps goalkeeper Poppy Irvine.
Lucy Farrow had a golden chance from a corner from six yards before half-time, but could only find the side netting, as the Imps continued to push for an equaliser.
The first caution of the game fell the way of Zofia Szech, as she hacked down Maddi Green as the winger accelerated down the left wing just before the break.
Defender Tilly Fantom replaced Brogan Pugh at the break, as City looked to force a way back into the contest.
City made the ideal start to the second half and pulled themselves back onto level terms within five minutes. Green’s corner from the left caused problems for goalkeeper Wong, and the ball found the net at the front post.
Neve Hincks placed the Imps back in front on 55 minutes, as another set-piece unlocked the Lightning defence, Hincks heading home from close range.
Mitchell was delighted with the comeback and said: “We are seeing a different side to them to where we were in the first half of the season.”
He added: “We’re over the moon for [Neve] because it’s tough on her own goal and it is what it is. It’s more about how the player reacts, and it was the perfect reaction. I’m really happy for her.”
Attack turned to defence from that moment on, as the Imps looked to consolidate all three points away at the league leaders.
Goalkeeper Irvine became busy, as Loughborough threw all they had at the Imps backline, but the young ‘keeper was equal to it all.
Seven minutes of added time saw Irvine claim everything in her penalty area, but it wasn’t to be for the Imps as Loughborough’s Purchase scored her second after five minutes of added time. She tapped home at the back post to break Lincoln hearts.
Manager Mitchell was disappointed to have not left Loughborough with all three points.
He said: “We’re a little bit gutted to have drawn, because we should have won it. Everybody put a shift in today, even the subs. Everyone played a part today and it was a real squad performance.”
Feature Image Credit: Graham Burrell/Lincoln City FC