The Imps cemented their place in the playoff spots after a dramatic last minute win over Colchester United at Sincil Bank. Elliott Whitehouse had given City the lead from the spot but Courtney Senior equalised moments later. It seemed to be that a draw was on the cards but Luke Waterfall changed all that with a dramatic injury time winner to send the home fans home very happy.
Under absolutely glorious sunshine at Sincil Bank the game kicked off at quite a pace, with the visitors very keen to keep the ball moving and it brought them the first chance of the game, neat movement from Olamide Shodpido saw him break through into the box before lashing a shot over the top of Ryan Allsop’s crossbar. However the visitors were far from having it their own way, City were pressing quickly off the ball and winning their fair share of the midfield battles.
Ben Stephenson was the next to chance his arm after a corner for the U’s, he tried a chip from the edge of the box but Allsop didn’t appear to be concerned as it floated over the crossbar.
The pace just didn’t let up despite the searing heat, Elliott Whitehouse almost profited from a nice quick free kick on the left, scampering his way into the box to get a shot on target, despite pressure from the defence, but Sam Walker was there to make the stop.
Off the ball City were just as adept, the timing from Alex Woodyard was impeccable as he perfectly halted the charge of Sean Murray who thought he’d done enough to fashion a shooting chance on the edge of the area. A fantastic move down the left between Matt Rhead, Matt Green and Harry Anderson down the left almost unlocked the door for the Imps, the latter making a purposeful run into the area but his finish lacked the finesse of the approach play. Eardley followed that up with a tantalizing ball into the box which had to be cleared under the nose of Green who was almost destined to score, City were turning the screw with the home fans in fine voice.
Eardley made a run down the right, Michael Bostwick strode out of defence majestically before looking up to slide the ball into the feet of the full back who cut inside to shoot but it didn’t have the requisite power to beat Walker as The Imps continued to press. Green did have the power to beat the Colchester ‘keeper minutes later though, but his grasscutter of an effort just squeezed wide of goal leaving him with his head in his hands as City continued to knock on the door. Frecklington found Rhead who set Green for a first time drive but it didn’t trouble Walker as the visitors struggled to contain their hosts.
On the stroke of half time, The Imps had the chance to get the goal their efforts deserved, Eardley drove in a vicious curling free kick from the left which Walker did well to palm away but City couldn’t force home the rebound.
The Imps 0 Colchester United 0
The Imps began the second half like they finished the first, on the front foot, forcing Colchester back into their own penalty area and looking the more likely to get in front. The opportunity came with just eight minutes gone, Habergham’s long through to Green gave him the chance to shoot but substitute, Ollie Palmer took over and as he shaped to shoot he was brought down and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped WHITEHOUSE who sent Walker the wrong way, rolling the ball into the bottom right corner. However, just as The Imps were building up a head of steam again, Colchester equalised as Courtney Senior made a run towards the City penalty area before playing a neat one two and then sidefooted past Allsop.
Undeterred by the setback, City pressed for a second and were closed to getting it courtesy of Frecklington. Bostwick played the ball into the chest of Rhead, he set it for Frecklington who took a touch before firing, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to keep it on target. Colchester broke from the resulting goal kick at pace with Drey Wright doing very well to create space to cross but he tried his luck at the near post however, Allsop was equal to the test. The U’s had another opportunity to take the lead for the first time, Sammie Szmodics broke free to try a low curling effort at goal, Allsop saved but couldn’t keep hold of the ball and it rolled free where Michael Mandron was waiting but Habergham did just enough to put him off, and the striker couldn’t turn it home.
The ball was quickly back up the opposite end of the field, Palmer did well to force an error from Ryan Jackson, the striker won possession and rolled the ball to Green, who took a touch to set up Tom Pett but the sub couldn’t finish. Palmer was again instrumental in the next opportunity for City, again out on the left winning possession and then feeding Green, the Imps’ leading scorer shot and Walker could only just keep it out of the goal. Palmer was causing mayhem and his next effort was worthy of a goal, he took possession some 25 yards out and hit a delicious curling effort which Walker had no chance of getting to but the ball cannoned off the crossbar before being cleared.
City were dealt a blow going into the final six minutes of the game when Bostwick was dismissed for pulling back Mandron outside the area as the striker threatened to be through on goal, Senior tried a curler from outside the area but it was no threat to The Imps’ goal.
Going down to ten men almost invigorated the home support who turned up the volume louder than they had all game, with every supporter in red and white making their presence felt. City pushed for the winner deep into stoppage time although Mandron thought he’d won it for the visitors but the flag was up denying them the late winner.
Green then had a shot blocked for a corner as the game was at it’s last ebb, the home fans were trying to suck the ball into the goal as it came into the box, Walker punched clear but City came again and the chance was there, a cross into the box was met by LUKE WATERFALL and the stadium erupted with pure delight.
The Imps 2 Colchester United 1
22 Ryan ALLSOP
3 Sam HABERGHAM
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE
6 Scott WHARTON
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
16 Michael BOSTWICK
19 Lee FRECKLINGTON
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
30 Alex WOODYARD
1 Paul FARMAN
5 Luke WATERFALL (74’ for Wharton)
7 Tom PETT (72’ for Whitehouse)
8 Ollie PALMER (46’ for Anderson)
14 Jordan WILLIAMS
15 James WILSON
32 Cameron STEWART
Booking: Eardley 16’
Red Card: Bostwick: 84’
GOAL: Whitehouse 55’ (pen) Waterfall 90’
1 Sam WALKER
2 Ryan JACKSON
5 Luke PROSSER
7 Drey WRIGHT
14 Brandon COMLEY
15 Olamide SHODPIDO
16 Sean MURRAY
17 Ben STEPHENSON
18 Thomas EASTMAN
19 Michael MANDRON
22 Kane VINCENT-YOUNG
25 Dillion BARNES
6 Frankie KENT
8 Doug LOFT
10 Sammie SZMODICS (70’ for Murray)
20 Courtney SENIOR (57’ for Shodpido)
21 Liam MANDEVILLE
27 Junior OGEDI-UZOKWE (89’ for Comley)
Booking: Shodpido 31’ Mandron 59’
GOAL: Senior 60’
Referee: Darren Handley
Assistants: Gary Hilton & Michael D’Aguilar
Attendance: 9,211 (325 Colchester supporters)