The Imps progress into the Third Round of the Northern Section of the Checktrade Trophy after a pulsating five goal thriller at Sincil Bank.
There were four goals in a breathless first half, Stanley opening the scoring through Mallik Wilks before Ollie Palmer equalized. The visitors then got back in front thanks to a long range effort from Sean McConville, who went from hero to zero as he couldn't stop a Matt Green header sneaking into the goal just before the break. City however dominated the second half and took the spoils thanks to Sean Raggett’s third goal of the season.
City started brightly with Elliott Whitehouse making a forceful run into the Stanley area but Ben Richards blocked his path to goal. However, the opposition were to open the scoring, when Mallik Wilks received a backheel from Billy Kee before taking a touch and slamming a low effort into the bottom corner past the despairing dive of Paul Farman.
City responded quickly, not put off by the early setback with Josh Ginnelly making a jinking run down the left flank after winning a corner, The Imps number seven curled in the set piece which Whitehouse connected with but his header just flashed off target with Max Stryjek in the Stanley goal well beaten.
The Imps were hustling and bustling in midfield trying to control possession and build some momentum in a game which had been very stop start in the opening 20 or so minutes. Stanley looked dangerous from set pieces with Kee connecting with a low corner that was defended well by City as the visitors had a flurry of corners in quick succession.
Up in the Stanley penalty area Ollie Palmer almost supplied Matt Green with a cross to redress the balance in terms of the score but Stryjek was alert to the danger, keeping his eyes and then hands on the ball with the Imps’ striker bearing down on him.
The Imps persistence paid off with 38 minutes gone when Ginnelly switched play from left to right, Anderson lept above Jordan Thorniley to head the ball into the path of Green who couldn’t get a shot away, but the ball rolled towards PALMER who swept home confidently from deep inside the box.
The equalising goal clearly gave City a lift and they pressed for the lead going into the break, Sean Raggett stayed upfield following a set piece opportunity, he set up Green but he found himself crowded out at the last. However, the visitors were to get back in front with a goal from fully 40 yards, Sean McConville hit a speculative effort which eluded the grasp of Farman, hit the bar and went in behind the City keeper.
Before the break however, a fourth goal of the opening 45 minutes was to come and it went the way of the Imps, Luke Waterfall put the ball in towards the back post where Green was lurking. The City striker beat the Stanley ‘keeper to the ball and somehow the ball squeezed into the goal.
The Imps 2 Stanley 2
City carried the impetus from that late first half equaliser into the early throes of the second half, and they were within a whisker of getting into the lead for the first time in the game. Raggett powerfully met a free kick delivered into the box by Sam Habergham but the ball was deflected inches wide of the target leaving The Imps defender with his head in his hands.
Jordan Clark tested the reflexes of Farman after he got his shot away on the edge of the box, with City’s ‘keeper getting down neatly to his right to grasp possession.
Ginnelly danced his way down the left flank, winning a corner which he took and almost whipped it directly into the goal but for a timely header off the line for another City flag kick. This time it was Habergham who took it and RAGGETT met it to head home and put the Imps into the lead.
Green was inches away from netting a fourth goal for City as he looked up before chipping the ball over the advancing Stanley ‘keeper, but just as it was to nestle into the net Mark Hughes cleared off the line, play continued as Anderson won back possession before feeding Alex Woodyard but his shot went over the top.
Stanley pushed all but one of their outfield players forward as they won a couple of corners, however despite trying a different routine they couldn’t force Farman into a save with Janoi Donacien curling a swerving ball towards the back post. Anderson tested Stryjek with a stabbed effort from outside the box that had to be saved as just over 3,000 supporters in the stadium couldn’t take their eyes off the game.
Farman had to be alert to dive at the feet of Kayden Jackson inside the six yard box as the substitute for Stanley looked to pounce on Kee’s low centre. The visitors pressed for a late equaliser as they threw caution to the wind and men into the box, and Farman kept City in the lead with two saves that were out of the top drawer. McConville hit a curling effort against the frame of the goal, the ball fell to Jackson who looked certain to score but for Farman’s superb stop right on the goal line, play continued and a looping effort was then to be tipped over by the City stopper.
Stanley continued to pile on the pressure, Farman was again called into action as Jackson was denied the equaliser right at the end of five minutes of stoppage time ensuring The Imps go through into Round Three of the Northern Section of the Checkatrade Trophy.
The Imps 3 Accrington Stanley 2
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Sean LONG
3 Sam HABERGHAM
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE
5 Luke WATERFALL
7 Josh GINNELLY
8 Ollie PALMER
10 Matt GREEN
25 Sean RAGGETT
26 Harry ANDERSON
30 Alex WOODYARD
21 Josh VICKERS
9 Matt RHEAD (for Palmer 90’)
11 Billy KNOTT
15 Rob DICKIE (81’ for Green)
23 Neal EARDLEY
28 Nathan ARNOLD (86’ for Ginnelly)
32 Cameron STEWART
Goals: Palmer 37’ Green 45’ Raggett 61’
Booking: Raggett 24’ Woodyard 75’ Long 85’
16 Max STRYJEK
3 Mark HUGHES
4 Janoi DONACIEN
5 Ben RICHARDS
6 Liam NOLAN
7 Jordan CLARK
8 Scotty BROWN
11 Sean McCONVILLE
12 Jordan THORNILEY
19 Mallik WILKS
29 Billy KEE
10 Kayden JACKSON (65’ for Clark)
15 Ross SYKES (86’ for Wilkes)
20 Reaghan OGLE
21 Zenh MOHAMMED
26 Callum JOHNSON
27 Farrend RAWSON (65’ for Thorniley)
44 Niall WATSON
Booking: Thorniley 31’ McConville 53’ Hughes 62’
Goal: Wilks 7’ McConville 41’
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Assistants: Ravel Cheosiaua & David Benton
Attendance: 3,026 (21 Stanley supporters)