Imps 2 Barrow 2
Chris Bush replaced the suspended Lee Beevers and new signing Craig Reid came in for Alan Power who was absent due to family reasons for this Vanarama National League home game against Barrow.
Apart from a slight breeze conditions were decidedly warm for a December afternoon as referee Alan Young led the two teams out of the tunnel. Barrow kicked off.
City were quickly on the offensive with a surging run forward from Jack Muldoon in the opening minute seeing him evade a couple of challenges but his final touch saw the ball go out for a goal-kick.
In the fourth minute a chipped Bush centre was headed over by Callum Howe at the back post following good work by Hawkridge down the left after a Bush throw hadn't been cleared.
More good play by Hawkridge saw him twist past his man in the seventh minute before his ball to Muldoon was cleared for a corner. The quickly-taken set-piece saw Bush curl goalwards and after the ball was palmed away by Joel Dixon, Luke Waterfall's follow-up effort was blocked.
A couple of minutes later two Barrow players clattered into debutant Reid on the edge of the box but referee Young spotted nothing untoward and let play continue. The official then spoke to Matt Rhead after the City skipper questioned the lack of a free-kick.
In the 14th minute a fantastic point-blank save from Paul Farman kept the score at 0-0 before Bradley Wood hacked the ball out for a corner. Two more Barrow corners followed before Farman calmed things down with a goal-kick.
City's response saw Matt Sparrow have a shot blocked following a Muldoon cross from the right flank but in the 28th minute Barrow keeper Dixon was helpess as the Imps took the lead.
The goal came after a Muldoon corner fell to Craig Stanley and after Waterfall controlled his excellent centre, the ball ran to MATT RHEAD who fired home his 17th of the season with his left boot via the inside of the post.
Craig Reid had half a chance four minutes later but the ball got tangled under his feet as he prepared to pull the trigger and as the Imps pressed forward again, Barrow left-back Nick Wilmer-Anderton was booked following a block on Muldoon.
In the 38th minute Barrow keeper Dixon failed to reach a Wood throw with Rhead's back-header being hurriedly cleared by the visiting defence. It wasn't long though before Dixon was picking the ball out of his net for a second time.
The Imps' second goal was simply superb; MATT RHEAD flicking the ball up and duly netting a spectacular overhead kick from 18 yards. With the exception of the travelling few, Sincil Bank rose as one to salute the big man following what was quite easily the best of his 18 to date this season.
Barrow's response was immediate though and within seconds of the restart Jason Walker pulled one back when the ball fell to him following a scramble after Farman had kept out a deflected shot.
The last action of the opening half came in the shape of a yellow card for Jack Muldoon following a foul on Fofana.
HT: IMPS 2 BARROW 1
Both teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second half with the Imps quickly on the offensive with a Hawkridge shot being blocked on the edge of the box before Muldoon dragged a low effort wide of the target.
A couple of minutes later a long Bush throw fell to Howe who hooked over the bar and in the 52nd minute what looked to be valid appeals for a penalty after Reid was dragged to the deck following a Wood cross fell on deaf ears.
Four minutes later Waterfall got on the end of a long Wood throw but saw his header superbly tipped over by Dixon. Howe then had a hooked effort deflect out for a corner as the Imps kept up the pressure.
Despite that pressure they were hit with a sucker punch on the hour mark when Wood was penalised for a trip on Walker. Although skid marks on the turf following the challenge were clearly outside the box, referee Young awarded Barrow a penalty. Walker duly obliged to level matters.
The Imps looked for a quick response with a rasping Stanley volley being deflected behind for a corner. This ended abruptly, however, with referee Young spotting a push by a City man as the heads went up.
A timely block from Bush saw him deny Cook after Fofana got in a crunching challenge on Wood whilst at the other end a deep Hawkridge cross was flicked off Rhead's head and out for a corner which came to nothing.
Conner Robinson replaced Craig Reid in the 73rd minute and three minutes later Muldoon curled a low effort wide from the edge of the box. Shortly afterwards Waterfall was penalised for a push on Cook and before Otis Khan fired the free-kick well over, Rhead was shown a yellow card by referee Young.
With 10 minutes remaining Kegan Everington replaced Matt Sparrow before Farman was booked as he tried to take a free-kick. Walker, who blocked the ball, escaped punishment though. When the free-kick was taken Rhead was flattened in the box by Grand. Once again nothing was given in City's favour though with Rhead getting back up after treatment.
Farman got down low to tip behind a low Khan shot as Barrow pressed again but they were reduced to 10 men shortly afterwards when Wilmer-Anderton went straight over the top on Everington.
A Barrow change then took an age as Ryan O'Reilly came on for Jason Walker who conveniently had just trotted across to the other side of the pitch
A City corner ended with another Barrow free-kick and as Symington carried the ball away, he fell dramatically as Rhead tried to retrieve it. An a tussle that ensued, Hawkridge and Pilkington were booked.
The last action of the game came during four added minutes with Ben Van Den Broek replacing Khan for Barrow.
The main talking point at the final whistle though was the performance of referee Young, who was the first to leave the pitch at the end of the game.
FT: IMPS 2 BARROW 2
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Bradley WOOD
4 Craig STANLEY
5 Luke WATERFALL
6 Chris BUSH
7 Jack MULDOON
9 Matt RHEAD
12 Terry HAWKRIDGE
21 Matt SPARROW
24 Craig REID
26 Callum HOWE
3 Greg TEMPEST
14 Conner ROBINSON (for REID 73)
15 Kegan EVERINGTON (for SPARROW 80)
29 Nathan BLISSETT
13 Aidan GRANT
GOALS: RHEAD (28, 43)
BOOKINGS: MULDOON (45+2), RHEAD (77), FARMAN (80), HAWKRIDGE (90)
12 Joel DIXON
6 Simon GRAND
8 Alex Ray HARVEY
9 Jason WALKER
10 Andy COOK
11 Dan PILKINGTON
16 Mo FOFANA
17 Steve WILLIAMS
23 Dave SYMINGTON
25 Nick WILMER-ANDERTON
27 Otis KHAN
5 Danny LIVESEY
15 David MELLOR
20 Eliott NEWBY
24 Ryan O’REILLY (for WALKER 88)
26 Ben VAN DEN BROEK (for KHAN 90+2)
GOALS: WALKER (44, 61 pen)
BOOKINGS: WILMER-ANDERTON (35), PILKINGTON (90)
SENDING OFF: WILMER-ANDERTON (87)
REFEREE: Alan Young
ASSISTANTS: Shaun Barry & Sarah Garratt
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Ben Cooke
ATTENDANCE: 2,540 (81 visiting supporters)