The Imps were to take all three points at Sincil Bank this afternoon as Jason Shackell scored an injury time winner after City came from behind to defeat MK Dons.
The visitors went ahead in the second half through sub, Rhys Healey but The Imps hit back through Shay McCartan before Shackell scored his second winning goal in two games.
Led out by Imps’ fan Tim Smith the sides were welcomed by a wall of noise from the almost sell out crowd at Sincil Bank. Josh Vickers made a return to the starting eleven after recovering from injury, there was also a return for Neal Eardley at right back.
City almost created a goal within the first couple of minutes of the game getting underway, John Akinde playing a slide rule pass through the heart of the Dons’ defence for Shay McCartan but Lee Nicholls was to race from his goal line to smother the ball. McCartan was again foiled by the Dons’ ‘keeper moments later, this time he did enough to force the Northern Irishman wide of goal.
Nicholls was a thorn in the side of City as he denied McCartan for a third time with only six minutes gone, Eardley clipped the ball to Akinde who played a wonderful first time pass to Harry Anderson, his shot was deflected into the path of McCartan and he somehow managed to acrobatically turn it goalward and the Dons’ ‘keeper stretched every sinew to tip the effort over the top.
Dons weathered the initial storm but City remained in possession for the most part, the away side though did get a shot away which Vickers watched fly by, Ousseynou Cisse with an ambitious volley from 25 yards following Michael Bostwick’s clearance following a Dons right wing centre. The pace of the game was incessant, The Imps flew forward down the left through Bruno Andrade and following a foul on McCartan, Harry Toffolo curled a clever free kick round the wall into the heart of the area, it skidded through the penalty area and Nicholls did well to grasp as it flew by the bodies ahead of him.
City kept knocking at the door, showing patience in attack waiting for the opportunity to pounce and with their fourth corner in the first half the ball was to come when Bostwick met a left wing corner from Andrade, but the ball was to flash just wide of the far post.
Dons though were holding station despite being on the backfoot for much of the game, a swift move down the right found the feet of Ryan Watson who let fly from outside the area, Vickers diving quickly down to his left made a wonderful save, deflecting for a corner. Chuks Aneke then headed the resulting corner over the top with Vickers in close attendance, doing more than enough to force the Dons’ number 10 into the miscue.
The home supporters were doing everything they could, urging The Imps forward and the team were pressing high and forcing errors from the Dons, Akinde almost profited from a loose ball by Cisse, the City top score was denied by a vital block from Jordan Houghton, getting enough on the ball to see it skid wide of target.
Winning the ball back on halfway, Eardley dinked a ball forward which Jordan Moore-Taylor misjudged and McCartan was off chasing, out came Nicholls and did enough to force the hurried effort that looped over the top of the bar.
The Imps 0 MK Dons 0
With the words of Danny and Nicky Cowley still in their thoughts, City were pressing high right from the restart, forcing MK Dons back into their own area. But the away side were organised as ever, slowing regaining composure before making their way forward, Alex Gilbey hit a low drive straight into the heart of the City area which was out of the reach of Vickers but it was deflected wide of the goal with Aneke trying his best to get there.
The tempo of the game was still very quick, Anderson doing very well to get to the ball ahead of Joe Walsh, then put a deep cross to the back post where Andrade headed into the danger area but MK hacked the ball away. Akinde was then put off just enough by Taylor-Moore and the City man couldn’t keep his header down.
The game was following the pattern of the first 45 minutes with City arguably having the upper hand without managing to break the deadlock, but that pattern was broken when the visitors did get on the scoresheet. Sub, Rhys Healey managing to get the better of Jason Shackell to break into the box and smash low into the far corner of the goal. Within minutes City were inches away from getting the equaliser, Akinde firing a low bouncing ball which had Nicholls beaten but the City striker was left holding his head in his hands as it crept just off target.
The Imps’ supporters turned up the volume yet again and Eardley went close with a rising drive that went over the top as the home side kept thundering forward. Andrade took control following a nice bit of close control from Tom Pett, the winger curled in a tantalising low cross which left Nicholls unsure whether to stick or twist, but there wasn’t a player there at the back post. There was nothing the MK ‘keeper could do though when the next chance came the way of The Imps.
A deep free kick was played in to the back post, Akinde rose highest to nod down and there was McCARTAN to smash home back across into the far corner, sending the home fans into raptures, quite the finish for his first in a City shirt.
The Imps were hungry for the winner, MK were hanging on. Jason Shackell almost headed a Toffolo corner home but somehow it was kept out of goal, a second successive flag kick was just diverted from goal.
The clock ticked towards full time and both sides were still going at it hammer and tongs, neither side settling for a point, Andrade cutting in from the right tried to find the far corner but his effort went wide. Akinde nodded just wide from a Bernard Mensah cross with City throwing caution to the wind in the final few minutes of stoppage time. The game was stretched as a result, Osman Sow nodded a deep cross into the arms of Vickers as the ball went end to end very quickly.
In the dying embers of the game, City were to get a final chance and how they took it. SHACKELL leaping highest to nod home his second goal in as many games and secure all three points and solidfy City’s place atop Skybet League Two.
The Imps 2 MK Dons 1
1 Josh VICKERS
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
7 Tom PETT
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
21 Grant SMITH
2 Kellan GORDON
9 Matt RHEAD (90’ for Akinde)
10 Matt GREEN (89’ for Anderson)
12 Ellis CHAPMAN
15 James WILSON
18 Bernard MENSAH (78’ for McCartan)
Booking: 87’ O’Connor
GOAL: 72’ McCartan, 90’ Shackell
1 Lee NICHOLLS
2 George WILLIAMS
3 Dean LEWINGTON
4 Joe WALSH
6 Osseynou CISSE
7 Ryan WATSON
8 Alex GILBEY
10 Chuks ANEKE
15 Jordan MOORE-TAYLOR
24 Jordan HOUGHTON
25 Callum BRITTAIN
22 Stuart MOORE
9 Osman SOW (83’ for Aneke)
12 Mitch HANCOX
14 Kieran AGARD (58’ for Houghton)
19 Robbie SIMPSON
26 Baily CARGILL
32 Rhys HEALEY (58’ for Gilbey)
Booked: 30’ Houghton, 45’ Watson, 56’ Walsh, 71’ Lewington, 83’ Sow
Goal: 64’ Healey
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Matthew Wilkes & Neil Davies
4th Official: Andrew Halliday
Attendance: 9,322 (559 MK Supporters)