City dig deep and secure a deserved Checkatrade Trophy success at Mansfield...
City boss Danny Cowley made six changes and Mansfield chief Steve Evans made no less than 10 changes for this Tuesday evening Checkatrade Trophy tie at The One Call Stadium with the notable inclusion in the Imps' starting line-up being Sam Habergham for his first appearance of the season.
David Webb was the man in the middle and once the pre-match formalities with captains Luke Waterfall and Krystian Pearce were complete play got underway with the Imps kicking off.
A couple of early free-kick decisions against City brought about much confusion amongst the Imps' players and management and after the defence kept out the danger on both occasions, ex-Mansfield striker Ollie Palmer went to ground under a heavy Hayden White challenge but was okay to continue without treatment.
Mansfield's bright start paid off with just six minutes on the clock; the Imps' back line opened up with Alfie Potter allowed to go through the middle before slotting clinically past the advancing Paul Farman.
Things calmed down a bit after the goal with the home back line forced to defend a Jordan Maguire-Drew free-kick after Alex Woodyard was upended by Paul Digby whilst at the other end Sean Long got in a superb challenge to deny the advancing Johnny Hunt.
Shortly after the quarter-hour mark George Taft headed over an Alex MacDonald free-kick as the Stags pressed again for a second and midway through the opening period Billy Knott and Long combined before the latter won the game's first corner. Nothing came from it though and Mansfield retained their one-goal lead.
A trip on the lively Knott by Pearce gave City a 26th minute free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out but Habergham's effort flew into the empty stand behind ex-Imp Bobby Olejnik's goal rather than into the back of his net.
A second City corner followed in six minutes later but after the Town defence cleared the ball, somewhat fortuitously, a quick counter-attack ended with Omari Sterling-James dragging a low effort wide of the City target.
Nothing was dropping at all for the Imps as the half wore on and after Harry Anderson and Maguire-Drew swapped flanks, a late challenge on the former earned MacDonald a 38th minute caution.
Two minutes later the Imps drew level with a top quality. Great work from Anderson saw him get the better of a couple of Town men and after he laid the ball back to Long, the ball was whipped in at pace and there ghosting in to head home was ELLIOTT WHITEHOUSE.
A couple of minutes later a deliberate block on a Farman clearance saw Digby pick up a yellow card and before the resultant free-kick could be taken, referee Webb spoke to Danny Cowley before sending the Imps' boss to the stands.
Once play resumed Potter then fired over only for the officials to award Mansfield a corner but justice was done when Rob Dickie was dragged to the floor by his marker when the ball was played in.
The half came to a close after two additional minutes.
HT: MANSFIELD 1 IMPS 1
Both teams were unchanged as the second half started and the first half chance after the restart saw Waterfall and Jimmy Spencer get tangled up with each other in the box. With the Town man going to ground and appealing for a penalty, referee Webb was having none of it and rightly let play continue.
Five minutes in Palmer had a dipping volley tipped behind by Olejnik and as the hosts counter-attacked after clearing the corner, the back-tracking Woodyard was there to mop up the danger superbly.
The action quickly switched to the other end with Olejnik denying Palmer again with a superb fingertip save in front of the 898 travelling City fans before Knott forced another corner on the attacking right. Maguire-Drew picked out Waterfall with his delivery but the ball landed in Olejnik's gloves.
Farman saved well from Potter as the Stags responded by going on the attack whilst at the other end Palmer was inches away from getting on the end of an Anderson through ball but Olejnik came off his line quickly to gather.
City made a double switch in the 65th minute with Michael Bostwick and Neal Eardley replacing Alex Woodyard and Sam Habergham and shortly after this change Knott was inches away with a 25-yard curling effort.
A sixth City corner came along as the game entered its final quarter but Waterfall saw his header blocked before Whitehouse was shouldered off the ball. Will Atkinson for Jack Thomas was Town's first change in the 72nd minute as Palmer was down having treatment before the striker limped off for further attention.
Former Stag Matt Green came on for Maguire-Drew with 13 minutes on the clock and seconds later a flicked header from a free-kick into the City box clipped the top of the crossbar. Referee Webb awarded a goal-kick although Farman appeared to get a slight fingertip to the ball.
Play quickly switched to the other end ad when Long opened up the home defence on the right and when he drilled in a low cross there to fire home from six yards was OLLIE PALMER to silence the natives and bring the travelling fans to their feet.
City surged forward in search of a third with Green having a cross deflected just wide by Taft and in a bid to salvage something from the game the hosts brought on CJ Hamilton and Danny Rose for Alex MacDonald and Jimmy Spencer. The clock showed 82 minutes played at the time of this double switch and three minutes later Eardley was booked for taking too long over a throw-in.
Just before the Fourth Official indicated that a minimum of five minutes were to be added on Waterfall saw yellow for a bodycheck on Taft, who had been pushed up front. Sterling-James fired his effort straight at the City wall though before Anderson brought the ball forward towards the corner flag superbly.
A couple of throw-ins and a corner followed before a foul on Dickie ate up some valuable time and with 20 seconds on the clock a Mansfield corner saw keeper Olejnik come forward but the Imps dealt with the corner and were able to bring the ball forward through Knott. He did superbly to hold the ball up and spot the run of MATT GREEN who slotted past a back-tracking defender to wrap things up in style.
FT: MANSFIELD 1 IMPS 3
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Sean LONG
3 Sam HABERGHAM
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE
5 Luke WATERFALL
8 Ollie PALMER
11 Billy KNOTT
14 Jordan MAGUIRE-DREW
15 Rob DICKIE
26 Harry ANDERSON
30 Alex WOODYARD
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN (for MAGUIRE-DREW 77)
16 Michael BOSTWICK (for WOODYARD 65)
23 Neal EARDLEY (for HABERGHAM 65)
25 Sean RAGGETT
28 Nathan ARNOLD
21 Josh VICKERS
GOALS: WHITEHOUSE (40), PALMER (79), GREEN (90+5)
BOOKINGS: EARDLEY (85), WATERFALL (90)
12 Bobby OLEJNIK
4 Paul DIGBY
5 Krystian PEARCE
7 Alex MACDONALD
14 George TAFT
15 Jimmy SPENCER
16 Hayden WHITE
17 Alfie POTTER
19 Johnny HUNT
20 Jack THOMAS
21 Omari STERLING-JAMES
subs2 Rhys BENNETT
3 Mal BENNING
11 Will ATKINSON (for THOMAS 72)
22 CJ HAMILTON (for MACDONALD 82)
26 Joel BYROM
32 Danny ROSE (for SPENCER 82)
1 Conrad LOGAN
GOAL: POTTER (6)
BOOKINGS: MACDONALD (38), DIGBY (42)
REFEREE: David Webb
ASSISTANTS: Steve Wade & Duncan Street
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Tom Bramall
ATTENDANCE: 2,495 (898 City supporters)