The Imps got back to winning ways in style putting three goals past Port Vale in a resounding performance at Sincil Bank.
Matt Green had given City a first half lead before Vale equalized on the stroke of half time through Danny Pugh, but second half strikes from Michael Bostwick and Luke Waterfall gave the home side a deserved victory.
City made six changes to the starting line up after the midweek defeat to Colchester United to face Vale who made two changes from their reverse against Mansfield Town.
The early throes of the game weren’t to provide a goalscoring opportunity with both sides battling to gain possession, however The Imps were almost to break the deadlock just before the ten minute mark. City attacked down the right as Michael Bostwick set Matt Green away, he fed Harry Anderson whose ball to the back post was to find it’s way to Josh Ginnelly, his shot from a tight angle squeezed past Ryan Boot in the Vale goal, but it cannoned off the bottom of the upright.
City pressed again almost immediately and Matt Rhead flicked the ball into the area ahead of Green but a duo of Vale defenders were to block his path to the bouncing ball. However, the Imps’ number ten was to get on the scoresheet within moments as he got onto the end of an Anderson cross from the right to finish with aplomb past Boot to score his fourth goal of the season.
Vale briedly rallied as they won a free kick and corner in quick succession but they couldn’t get beyond the City defence with Bostwick and Eardley cutting short any hopes they had of getting a relatively quick response to going behind.
City continued to force the visitors into their own half with brief respite for the defence coming when they lashed the ball long for Tom Pope and Christian Montano to chase, but Sean Raggett and Waterfall weren’t to give them anything to be able to fashion anything like a chance or shot on goal.
Dave Worrall won a free kick for the visitors out on the right flank, he got up to take the set piece but Gavin Gunning’s header back across goal was well watched by Raggeett who cleared as The Imps continued to be the dominant side.
Eardley and Ginnelly played a one two for the full back to cross but the ball was taken away at the last from Green by Kay whose intervention almost certainly kept his side in the game. Kay was then involved up the other end of the field getting a shot away which never worried Josh Vickers who watched it roll wide, but their next attack through Montano was to create a chance as they won a corner. It was cleared by Raggett but Vale came back forward quickly and a shot from Gunning was to follow but it was well wide of the goal.
James Gibbons fired a shot from distance for the visitors which initially appeared that Vickers had tipped over, but in fact it clipped the top of the crossbar on it’s way through. Eardley then found Waterfall who headed to the edge of the area to Anderson who came steaming in to hammer a shot but it was to go over the top leaving the Imps’ number 26 holding his head in his hands.
The Valiants then collectively had their hands on their head as Tom Pope headed a corner seemingly into the goal but Bostwick was in the right place to head off the line as half time approached. City won two corners in quick succession as they looked to end the half on a high, but it was to be Vale who got the equaliser, they broke on the counter attack down the right, Montano’s cross was headed back across by Pope to Pugh who smashed home on the volley.
The Imps 1 Port Vale 1
City started brightly as the second half got underway and won a corner within a minute of the restart when Eardley found Green who found his progress halted by Greening. Unfortunately though the Valiants were to clear as Bostwick was lining up a shot at the back post, Eardley then had a swirling effort blocked which appeared to be arrowing into the bottom corner with Vale ‘keeper, Boot, diving desperately to his right.
It was all about City as Green did well to hold up the ball with Kay in close proximity, he patiently waited for Ginnelly to support him and fed him but his left foot effort sailed over the top. The crowd sensed a goal coming and they weren’t wrong, Green was involved again inside the box holding off three Vale defenders, he tried to backheel it to Rhead but it was blocked the ball rolled out to BOSTWICK who measured a wonderful sidefooted effort into the goal off the upright.
Eardley then almost created a third for The Imps as he took on his man down the right, cross into the box where Rhead was blocked off by his man and just managed to clear the danger. The volume of the home crowd raised as they urged City to getting a third and Green almost did but for some excellent defending at the near post blocking his flick from Habergham’s low centre.
City’s persistence paid off in the 70th minute, a free kick swung into the box by Habergham which was knocked down by Rhead and WATERFALL was there to get the ball into the net to put The Imps two goals ahead.
A first attack in quite some time for Port Vale came when they won a throw down the left, it was hurled into the box where it was half cleared to Montano but his effort was off target. City immediately attacked down the left and won a corner, Eardley swung it in towards goal and it almost sneaked in but Boot managed to grab it at the last moment after initially seeming to have advanced too far from his goal line.
The Imps controlled the final throes of the game with a late shot from Pope being easily gathered, in what was the away side’s only real opportunity coming in the final minute of the game.
The Imps 3 Port Vale 1
21 Josh VICKERS
3 Sam HABERGHAM
5 Luke WATERFALL
7 Josh GINNELLY
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
16 Michael BOSTWICK
23 Neal EARDLEY
25 Sean RAGGETT
26 Harry ANDERSON
30 Alex WOODYARD
1 Paul FARMAN
2 Sean LONG (90’ for ANDERSON)
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE (76’ for GINNELLY)
8 Ollie PALMER (85’ for RHEAD)
11 Billy KNOTT
15 Rob DICKIE
28 Nathan ARNOLD
Goals: Green 11’ Bostwick 53’ Waterfall 70’
Bookings: Green 73’, Palmer 90’
23 Ryan BOOT
4 Tom ANDERSON
6 Antony KAY
7 Marcus HARNESS
8 Danny PUGH
9 Tom POPE
10 Dave WORRALL
11 Christian MONTANO
21 James GIBBONS
24 Nathan SMITH
33 Gavin GUNNING
12 Sam HORNBY
3 Tyler DENTON
15 Anton FORRESTER (57’ for HARNESS)
16 Adam YATES
18 Billy REEVES
19 Dan TURNER
32 Michael TONGE
Goal: Pugh 45’
Booking: Gibbons 69’ Forrester 83’ Gunning 90’
Referee: Andy Haines
Assistants: Wayne Grunnill & Alf Greenwood
4th Official: David Plowright
Attendance: 7,562 (557 Port Vale Supporters)