The Imps were to lose for the first time at home in seven games as Coventry City came from behind to win at Sincil Bank.
Matt Rhead had put the home side into the lead in the first half, but goals from Jodi Jones and Duckans Nazon were to send the away supporters home happy. But it didn’t tell the whole story of a terrific SkyBet League Two encounter.
The atmosphere was electric at Sincil Bank with over 9,500 supporters packed inside the ground as the game got underway. The visitors made the first foray forward in the game as Ryan Haynes set Jordan Shipley away down the Coventry left but his ball across was well watched by the City defence. Moments later a similar move went the way of The Imps, Nathan Arnold being found by Matt Rhead who held off the attentions of his marker, sliding the ball out to Arnold his effort however whistled over the bar in a breathless opening five minutes.
Both sides were struggling to get anything like breathing space with the combative nature of the game was enthralling. Neal Eardley pinched possession from Jodi Jones on the Sky Blue’s right, fed Arnold who scampered into the final third and he squared it but it was just behind Matt Green.
Coventry created a shooting opportunity for Marc McNulty, the striker linked with strike partner Jordan Shipley, the former however, scuffed his effort from range and it bobbled into the welcoming arms of Josh Vickers. Up the other end of the field a terrific link between Rhead, Green and Harry Anderson almost fashioned a chance for Arnold rushing in near the penalty spot but Liam Kelly just managed to nod the ball clear. The Sky Blues captain, Michael Doyle, tested Vickers’ reactions and Max Biamou headed wide moments later as the fast paced game kept supporters riveted to the action.
The Imps forced three corners in a row, the first two being hurriedly scrambled away at the near post by the visiting defence, Lee Burge in the Coventry goal claimed the third and then set Jones away quickly, the number eleven broke at pace down the right, he smashed a low ball across the face where McNulty tried to turn it home but Vickers did well to save.
However, with The Imps continuing to pile on the pressure, the Coventry resistance finally broke in the 27th minute as a wonderful ball on from the right by Sean Long was turned home on the volley by RHEAD.
From the restart the visitors tried immediately to level things up as Shipley fired from long range, Vickers was equal to it as the home fans continued to celebrate the opening goal of the game. Biamou fired over the top from outside the area as the visitors were restricted to shots from distance, in fact their best chance came from a free kick smashed in by Liam Kelly which Vickers expertly tipped over the crossbar.
Vickers was again called into action, this time by Jones who cut inside from the right then unleashing a left foot shot which The Imps’ ‘keeper tipped over and it was to be the last goalmouth action of a scintillating opening 45 minutes.
The Imps 1 Coventry City 0
There were no changes as both sides returned for the second half, the visitors started the half with quite a bit of vigour although their attempts to get back into the game didn’t pose a threat. However following a change of personnel the Sky Blues almost got back into the game but for two fantastic saves by Vickers, first he dived full length to his left to deny the Duckens Nazon whose shot was destined for the far corner, then the Imps’ stopper then saved at the near post from the resulting flag kick.
Coventry City grew in confidence and continued to put pressure on The Imps’ defence, but just as frustration began to grow in the visiting ranks they were to get themselves level. Jones took up possession from Shipley out on the right before firing a low cross/shot which crept in at the far post. The Imps almost equalized right from the restart, after winning a free kick around 25 yards out, Eardley curled the ball into the danger zone where Green leapt above his marker but his header crashed off the crossbar and then Harry Anderson’s effort was claimed by Burge.
Rhead and Green continued to work well together and the latter found Long who crossed low to the near post, Burge diving at the feet of Green who was so close to applying the finishing touch. The intensity of the early throes of the first half had returned as well as the end to end nature of the action, with the game on a knife edge.
Coventry took the initiative and Jones almost put the visitors ahead when he shot on target, Vickers was equal to it, Jones pounced on the rebound but hit the bar and it cannoned back to the Sky Blues and Nazon smashed home from the edge of the box.
Nazon was a thorn in the side of the Imps and he forced Vickers into a save as the game became really stretched. The Imps, Cameron Stewart and Ollie Palmer being brought on to give the home side an extra dimension, Dickie smashed a daisycutter from around 30 yards just wide of goal. Elliott Whitehouse nodded a Stewart header goalwards at the back post, which Burge saved. Nazon tested Vickers as he tried to put the game out of sight of The Imps, a lovely diving stop denied the striker a second goal of the game.
The Imps 1 Coventry City 2
21 Josh VICKERS
2 Sean LONG
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
3 Sam HABERGHAM
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE (69’ for Rhead)
5 Luke WATERFALL
8 Ollie PALMER (78’ for Anderson)
11 Billy KNOTT
32 Cameron STEWART (76’ for Arnold)
Booking: Long 20’ Dickie 52’ Green 66’ Palmer 90'
GOAL: Rhead 27’
1 Lee BURGE
4 Jordan WILLIS
5 Rod McDONALD
6 Liam KELLY
8 Michael DOYLE
9 Max BIAMOU
10 Marc MCNULTY
11 Jodi JONES
12 Tom DAVIES
24 Ryan HAYNES
26 Jordan SHIPLEY
13 Liam O BRIEN
3 Chris STOKES (89’ for Shipley)
7 Peter VINCENTI
15 Dominic HYAM
18 Duckens NAZON (51’ for McNulty)
28 Callum MAYCOCK
38 Jordan PONTICELLI
GOAL: Jones 61’ Nazon 71’
Booking: Nazon 71’ Burge 90’
Referee: Ross Joyce
Assistants: Alix Pashley & Gregory Read
4th Official: Thomas Bramall
ATTENDANCE: 9,581 (1,460 Coventry City Supporters)