The Imps began the defence of their Checkatrade Trophy crown against Mansfield Town at Sincil Bank this evening, but the first group stage game was to end in defeat
The match started in quick fashion as City opened the scoring within the first six minutes of the game. However, the elation was shortlived when the visitors equalised moments later through Callum Butcher before substitute Tyler Walker netted a second for The Stags to win the tie in the second half.
Harry Anderson won a race to the ball with Mal Benning before holding off The Stags full back and clipping the perfect ball onto the head of MATT RHEAD and he powered home past Conrad Logan in the visitors goal. However, Mansfield Town replied quickly, when Butcher slotted home after collecting a loose ball inside the box just 120 seconds later.
The intense tempo didn’t let up and Bernard Mensah was just a yard away from restoring City’s lead almost immediately from the restart, taking a touch after being found by a cross field ball to the left hand side of the box but his shot just screwed wide of the far post with Logan beaten.
Danny Rose did his best to create another chance for the visiting side, bursting down the right flank to put in a dangerous cross but Michael Bostwick read it perfectly to clear with Craig Davies in close attendance just behind him as the competitive start to the game continued. Butcher was the next Stag’s player who tried to fashion an opportunity but once again The Imps were standing strong, then the visitors goalscorer tried to do it all himself from distance but Sam Slocombe wasn’t troubled by the effort.
City slowly grew in composure and when Shay McCartan stepped past two on his way into the box, the home supporters stood in anticipation of what came next but the Northern Irish international was denied by the outstretched arm of Logan to deny The Imps what would have been a memorable strike.
The game was a real battle with challenges flying in, giving little opportunity for the scoreline to change unless something special was to unlock the door. The only effort of note in a tempestuous few minutes came when Timi Elsnik smashed a shot from outside the area for The Stags which Slocombe confidently gathered. A little later Davies was denied a strike on target as Bostwick was stuck to him like glue, the Mansfield number nine thought his first touch following a cross field ball from right to left had given him the space to score but the City man was there, blocking the attempt.
Things then quickly went back to the other end of the field as Anderson and Kellan Gordan linked down the right flank to cross towards Rhead in the area but the Imp’s number nine couldn’t this time steer his attempt past Logan and into the goal as it drifted just wide of the mark.
Butcher was denied a second goal for the visitors just before the break, the Mansfield man picked up possession inside the area before being forced wide by Slocome, Butcher got his shot away but was left with his head in his hands as Crooke threw himself in the way of the goalbound effort. It brought to an end an enthralling first half full of action with both sides still vying for supremacy.
The Imps 1 Mansfield Town 1
City were the first to register a shot on goal in the second half, as McCartan got onto the end of a clever free kick from Harry Toffolo, the first time effort was blocked by Mansfield as it arrowed towards goal with Logan.
There was no let-up in the intensity in the second half with challenges still flying in from both sides, Ellis Chapman almost created an opportunity for a shot at the near post before a swift break by McCartan fed Anderson but his centre found a similar fate, being lashed clear ahead of finding it’s intended target.
Mansfield weren’t afforded any space inside City’s half and they weren’t able to get any rhythm into their play as a consequence with The Imps having the lion’s share of possession.
Chapman intercepted a pass into the Imps danger zone perfectly before setting Toffolo away down the left flank, he was hunted down by two Mansfield defenders but the full back got his cross away, however it was just too deep for the onrushing Luque at the back post as City almost found a route to goal. Toffolo was in the thick of the action again playing into the heart of the Stag’s penalty area, causing confusion as Logan was denied a chance to claim possession as the defence intervened with a hack clear.
Mansfield regrouped and after a warning shot was fired when Davies nodded over a deep cross at the back post, in what was his last action for the visitors before being substituted, before his replacement, Tyler Walker, was to make an instant impact. The striker smashing home a low drive from the edge of the area into the bottom corner which gave Slocombe no chance. The Stag’s tails were up and another substitute CJ Hamilton was close to scoring but Bostwick did enough to put him off, as City’s defence regrouped to block the effort.
Gordon did well to get away down the right flank as Anderson found him with a lovely through ball but his centre was hurriedly cleared with the Imps searching for the equaliser with the second half coming to a close. City continued to press right to the whistle forcing the visitors onto the back foot, and in the final throes of the game Michael O' Connor was dismissed following a melee on the half way line. The Imps won a succession of corners and heaped on the pressure throwing men into the box in a final attempt to equalise but they couldn’t force the game to a penalty shoot out, with McCombe just heading wide with the last effort of the game.
The Imps 1 Mansfield Town 2
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON
9 Matt RHEAD
12 Ellis CHAPMAN
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
18 Bernard MENSAH
19 Joan LUQUE
20 Adam CROOKES
26 Harry ANDERSON
21 Grant SMITH
4 Michael O’CONNOR (80’ for Luque)
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
11 Bruno ANDRADE (67’ for Mensah)
27 Jamie McCOMBE (80’ for Bostwick)
29 John AKINDE
30 Jordan ASDEBAYO-SMITH
GOAL: Rhead 6’
Booked: Bostwick 54’ McCombe 90'
Red Card: O'Connor 90'
1 Conrad LOGAN
2 Hayden WHITE
3 Mal BENNING
4 Matt PRESTON
7 Alex McDONALD
9 Craig DAVIES
11 Will ATKINSON
16 Callum BUTCHER
20 Timi ELSNIK
27 Lewis GIBBENS
32 Danny ROSE
12 Robert OLEJNIK
6 Neal BISHOP
10 Otis KHAN
19 Tyler WALKER (72’ for Davies)
22 CJ HAMILTON (71’ for Rose)
26 Jason LAW
29 Jordan GRAHAM
GOAL: Butcher 8’ Walker 72’
Booked: Preston 12’ White 29’ Rose 31’ Benning 34’ Elsnik 83’ McDonald 90'
Referee: Ross Joyce
Assistants: Joe Clark & David Avent
4th Official: Christopher Ward
Attendance: 4,205 (260 Mansfield supporters)