In front of over 9,000 City supporters, The Imps extended their unbeaten run to six games and solidified their place in the top six in SkyBet League Two as well as carrying over the Christmas cheer for at least another day.
Goals from Harry Anderson, Matt Green and Josh Ginnelly were more than enough to defeat Stevenage who couldn’t contain the pressure piled on them by the Imps who grew into the game and never looked like relinquishing the lead.
Both sets of supporters were in fine voice as the game got underway, Joe Martin got the first shot of the game away, but Michael Bostwick was the first person to draw a goalkeeper into action as Joe Fryer saved his low effort. The visitors then were to force Josh Vickers into a fantastic stop, a deep ball to the back post was met by Danny Newton whose downward header was heading into the goal, but City’s ‘keeper threw out a strong left hand to save with Sean Raggett in the right place to then lash the ball clear as the visitors tried to force home the bouncing ball.
The frenetic pace continued throughout the opening 15 minutes with the ball quickly going from one end of the pitch to the other. Matt Green’s strength and pace was causing problems for Stevenage while the visitors were throwing men forward in numbers to supplement their attack, it was an enthralling encounter. Matt Gooden tried his luck from just inside the box as Vickers again saved smartly and the packed Stacey West Stand, full of Imps’ supporters, applauded him for his efforts.
Stevenage won a free kick around 30 yards out, wide on the Imps’ right. Martin clipped the ball into the box, the ball ricocheted off Jack King who didn’t know much about it and it almost sneaked in at the back post. Raggett was denied by Fryer inside the box after Matt Green held off two defenders deep inside Stevenage territory, leaving the City defender with his head in his hands who thought he had done enough to open the scoring as the game continued to be played at quite a pace.
The deadlock was broken however, by the Imps moments later a neat link between Matt Rhead and Green, freed the latter and the Imps’ number ten took the ball into the box before firing at goal, Fryer made a fine stop but there was HARRY ANDERSON hurtling into the box to head home the rebound from close range.
Stevenage tried to get back on level terms immediately, a dangerous ball into the box and Alex Samuel was to sidefoot at goal but a cluster of City defenders got in the way to block the shot before clearing the ball from danger. Nathan Arnold tried the spectacular just ahead of the half time whistle but his volley went wide of goal, and just before the break Raggett headed a looping ball into the heart of the six yard box which Fryer just managed to get to but almost inadvertently punched it into his goal, the ball bounced inches wide.
The Imps 1 Stevenage 0
As things got underway in the second half City had their first opportunity within minutes, Neal Eardley delivering a curling ball into the box where Raggett leapt the highest but he couldn’t divert the ball on target.
Dale Gorman lashed a volley over the top following a free kick for Stevenage, as again like the pattern of play in the first half, the ball seemed to be spending more time in the final third of each half than in midfield.
Arnold made a break with Green and Anderson in close proximity, he squared the ball but an outstretched leg of Ronnie Henry just deflected it ahead of the two City players who couldn’t get the vital touch. Arnold was then denied by Fryer who was in the right place to save the header with The Imps so close to gaining a two goal lead. Anderson shot wide after a move which involved Arnold again, the number 28 was causing problems and he supplied Rhead with a headed chance but Fryer saved again with City piling on the pressure.
That pressure paid off when Eardley did what has become customary over recent weeks, the full back curled the ball in and it was on a plate for GREEN who sidefooted home on the volley. City were rampant and should have been three goals to the good within minutes, Rhead took control and hooked the ball over the top, Green raced away and looked up to feed Anderson who unfortunately couldn’t turn it home
City did get their third with ten minutes to go, Eardley and Elliott Whitehouse combined down the right and he fed Ollie Palmer who timed his run to perfection, he fired his effort on target and Fryer saved but JOSH GINNELLY smashed home from close range. Stevenage quicklyhad an opportunity to reduce the arrears but Godden could only turn the ball over the bar from close range, however The Imps saw out the remainder of the game relatively unchallenged and more than deserved their fourth consecutive home win.
The Imps 3 Stevenage 0
21 Josh VICKERS
3 Sam HABERGHAM
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
15 Rob DICKIE
16 Michael BOSTWICK
23 Neal EARDLEY
25 Sean RAGGETT
26 Harry ANDERSON
28 Nathan ARNOLD
30 Alex WOODYARD
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Sean LONG
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE (71’ for Arnold)
7 Josh GINNELLY (78’ for Rhead)
8 Ollie PALMER (75’ for Green)
12 Ellis CHAPMAN
27 Jamie McCOMBE
GOAL: Anderson 34’ Green 63’ Ginnelly 80’
1 Joe FRYER
2 Jonathan SMITH
3 Joe MARTIN
4 Jack KING
15 Alex SAMUEL
17 Dale GORMAN
19 Danny NEWTON
20 Terence VAN COOTTEN
24 Matt GOODEN
25 Ronnie HENRY
30 Mark McKEE
16 Chris DAY
5 Fraser FRANKS
6 Luke WILKINSON (45’ for Van Cooten)
7 Chris WHELPDALE
8 Harry BEAUTYMAN
10 Ben KENNEDY (56’ for Samuel)
11 Tom PETT (72’ for Gorman)
Referee: C BOYESON
Assistants: W GRUNNILL & L FREEMAN
Attendance: 9268 (190 Stevenage supporters)