Lincoln City took advantage of MK Dons’ clash with Newport County being postponed as they regained their top spot. The Imps secured their 13th set of three points for the season with a comfortable 3-1 win over Morecambe.
It was a horrible cold and wet winter day for the two sides at Sincil Bank as the Imps returned to home SkyBet League Two action following their 1-0 win away to Stevenage last Saturday.
City started the game stronger side with the majority of possession, threatening their opponents with constant pressing high up the field. Harry Anderson looked lively on the right wing in the opening minutes however, Harry Toffolo and Tom Pett where the men who created Lincoln’s first real opportunity of the game.
The former England youth international received the ball from Pett on the left side allowing him to fire the ball into the Morecambe box. It was half cleared to find its way to the edge of the area where Michael O’Connor was waiting to pounce. The midfielder looked to produce one of his trademark long distance strikes, only for him to hit it with too much power going wide for a goal kick.
Just three minutes later the Imps broke the deadlock in the seventh minute with ANDERSON placing the ball past Mark Halstead with ease. Pett and Toffolo were again involved as they produced a nice piece of play to slide the ball into the box where Anderson was waiting to side foot it home having looked lively early on in the half.
The Shrimps lacked any real threat in the opening quarter of an hour with Kevin Ellison’s high cross being calmly collected by Lincoln shot stopper Grant Smith. The visitors had their second shot of the game 20 minutes in with Jordan Cranston choosing to shoot from distance, ignoring his options out wide. The 25-year-old’s shot flew over the crossbar with Smith remaining untroubled.
Morecambe started to grow into the game following City’s early goal. Jim Bentley’s men continued to fire balls into the Lincoln area with Cranston’s free kick forcing Smith to come off his line. The Imps keeper failed to grasp possession of the ball, however Lincoln played themselves out of trouble to regain control of the play.
Just five minutes before the half an hour mark Anderson beat his man on the right wing to hammer a low cross into Pett who was inches away from grabbing City a second. It wasn’t long before the Imps found themselves in front of goal again, this time with John Akinde turning his man in fashionable style to produce a shot inside the area which forced a great point blank save from Morecambe keeper Halstead.
With 14 minutes left of regular time in the first half Lincoln were awarded a penalty as Shay McCartan broke into the box with force to be brought down by Alex Kenyan. Following a short break in play AKINDE stepped up to take the spot kick with confidence as he placed the ball into the right-hand side of the net, scoring his ninth goal of the season.
It didn’t stop there for Danny Cowley’s men as within minutes City were rewarded a free-kick just outside the centre of the visitor’s box. JASON SHACKELL stepped up to take the set piece, only to produce an unstoppable shot into the top right corner giving the Imps three goals in the first half.
Lincoln finished the half as they started, with possession and constant pressing meaning that to no one’s surprise City’s chances kept coming and coming. Anderson continued to cause problems for the Morecambe defence and almost added a second to his tally for the day when his shot was fired just wide of the far post.
The Imps 3 Morecambe 0
It was a similar story at the start of the second half as Lincoln restarted the game as they had finished the opening 45. Lee Frecklington produced a shot early on for the Imps when he received the ball at the edge of the area. The midfielder drilled the ball just over for a goal-kick in a similar fashion to O’Connor’s early strike in the first half.
Three minutes into the second half the Imps were forced to make a change with Neal Eardley receiving treatment. Former Wales international James Wilson was called upon from the bench to replace his fellow countryman.
Morecambe thought they’d grabbed one back in the 53rd minute when Cranston fired a low powerful free-kick at Smith. The ball skimmed the Sincil Bank turf meaning Smith couldn’t get a firm grip on the ball leaving it for him to pounce on. However, the ball ended up in the back of the net before the referee called for a foul on the Imps shot-stopper leaving the score 3-0.
City fans had a blast from the past when former frontman Vadaine Oliver replaced Ajay Leitch-Smith 12 minutes into the second half for Morecambe. Rhys Oates also came on for the visitors replacing Liam Mandeville.
Referee Sebastian Stockbridge produced the first card of the game on the hour mark when Luke Conlan collided with McCartan who had taken a touch to knock the ball past the defender just in front of the halfway line.
City continued to knock on the door as they went on the hunt for their fourth goal of the game. O’Connor was brought down by Ellison in the corner of the field producing a free-kick for the Imps. The ball was whipped in and cleared leaving Lincoln with a corner ball to resume their assault on goal.
O’Connor took the corner well finding Anderson who had lost his marker, only for the wide man to be unable to head the ball home. Morecambe made their final sub of the game a minute later with Aaron Wildig replacing Kenyan in the 70th minute.
With City looking comfortably in control of the game, Cowley decided to mix things up by bringing fresh legs on through Matt Green. The vibrant forward replaced goal scorer Akinde in the 73rd minute as Lincoln looked to add to their already impressive lead.
The Imps made a second change 10 minutes from time with Scott Wharton coming on for O’Connor.
Shortly after the City change, the visiting side scored a consolation goal against the run of play. Substitute Oates pushed forward down the right-hand side producing a cross which curled away from the goal only for Ellison to knock it in at the back post.
With three minutes left on the clock Morecambe defender Sam Levelle brought down McCartan at the edge of the area rewarding Lincoln with another free-kick. The Irishman stepped up to take it alongside Tom Pett.
McCartan eventually put his foot around the ball to swerve it viciously at the Morecambe goal, the dip on the ball looked as if it was going in however, the ball struck the crossbar before going out for a goal kick.
The fourth official indicated that there was going to be a minimum of five minutes added time as the rain continued to pour down on Sincil Bank. City continued to look strong as they saw out the game with Anderson racing forward. The winger had his back to the goal in the Morecambe box forcing him to swivel around before firing a shot just wide of Halstead’s goal.
The Imps finished the game with a corner following Green’s battle with Conlan and Old, City managing the remaining stoppage time well to round out the game as worthy winners.
The Imps 3 Morecambe 1
21 Grant SMITH
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
7 Tom PETT
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON
6 Scott WHARTON (80’ for Michael O’Connor)
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN (73’ for John Akinde)
15 James WILSON (49’ for Neal Earldey)
18 Bernard MENSAH
Goal: Anderson 7’, Akinde 33’ (pen), Shackell 37'
21 Mark HALSTEAD
3 Luke CONLAN
4 Alex KENYAN
5 Steven OLD
11 Kevin ELLISON
12 Jason OSWELL
14 Yosef YARNEY
16 Sam LAVELLE
17 Liam MANDEVILLE
27 Jordan CRANSTON
28 Ajay LEITCH-SMITH
1 Barry ROCHE
7 Garry THOMPSON
9 Vadaine OLIVER (57’ for Ajay Leitch-Smith)
15 Aaron WILDIG (70’ for Alex Kenyan)
18 Rhys OATES (57’ for Liam Mandeville)
19 Carlos MENDES GOMES
25 Ben HENDLEY
Booked: Luke Conlan 60’, Sam Levelle 87’
Goal: Kevin Ellison 80’
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Assistants: Gareth Mellor & Richard Bartlett
4th Official: Richard Woodward
Attendance: 7,975 (75 Morecambe supporters)