The Imps and Notts County played out a pulsating local derby at Sincil Bank this afternoon in front of the biggest crowd of the season. Lee Frecklington made a goalscoring return to the club, but the visitors were to deny him and City a win after netting a late equaliser. Jon Stead had put the visitors ahead before Frecklington's goal leveled things then Matt Green put City ahead but Jorge Grant scored a second for the visitors to ensure the spoils were shared.
City started the game with Lee Frecklington making his debut since rejoining the club in the heart of the midfield, and Jordan Williams also made his first appearance after joining from Rochdale, with Harry Anderson missing out through suspension.
Notts County started the game brightly with Jorge Grant starting the game brightly, heading over from Terry Hawkridge’s centre, then he blasted over the top of Paul Farman’s goal from outside the box.
Matt Rhead and Matt Green were causing the County defence problems, and both almost forged the first opportunity for the Imps, but Richard Duffy just got there ahead of Rhead who almost benefited from his strike partner’s knockdown. Williams was busy down the left flank for City, linking well with Sam Habergham as The Imps grew into the game in front of a packed out Sincil Bank and a white hot atmosphere.
Both sides were combative in the challenge, with the game being largly played out in the middle third of the field. There was little space for either team to get the ball down and play with any consistency such was the tempo of the game.
Danny Rowe made a break following a County attack, his pace took the ball 60 yards upfield but Habergham’s cross was blocked. But it was an indication of the threat the Imps possess. Green then had the chance as he got in down the right channel and he slid the ball across the face of the six yard box, with Rhead lurking Matt Tootle had to be alert to clear the danger.
Rhead again linked with his partner, who won a corner it was swung in by Habergham and Frecklington met it with a flick header but it flashed across the face of goal and just beyond the far post. But the visiting side got their noses in front as the ball was floated into the area and Jon Stead headed home at the back post.
But within a flash the Imps had got on level terms, and similarly it was a cross into the box from the right which Williams connected with to knock down and FRECKLINGTON came in and smashed home the knockdown to score and send the crowd into raptures. The intensity of the game showed no signs of letting up with both sides attacking in numbers, Michael Bostwick had two attempts at a corner drifted in from the right, but couldn’t hit the target. On the cusp of half time The Imps had Paul Farman to thank after a clever ball down the side of the City defence from a free kick was rolled to Stead, Farman rushed out and closed the angle perfectly to block.
The Imps 1 Notts County 1
Within 48 seconds of the second half City almost got their noses in front, Rhead took possession on the edge of the box, turned and shot and with Ross Fitzsimmons diving desperately to his left and unable to get to it however, the ball flashed inches wide of the goal.
City were having the better chances and Green almost put The Imps in front, a corner was swung in by Habergham, Luke Waterfall won the first ball and Green tried an audacious overhead kick which unfortunately went straight into the grasp of Fitzsimmons. City continued to put pressure on the visitors as Eardley slipped in Frecklington in the box, he dinked a ball to the back post where Rhead leapt highest, the ball bobbled in the box and Green was in the right place but again his effort was blocked by Fitzsimmons on the line.
Green wasn’t to be denied though for a third time by the County ‘keeper, Rhead linked with Rowe who fed GREEN, the striker raced into the box and finished under the onrushing Fitzsimmons.
The atmosphere was electric, and when Rowe picked up possession on the edge of the box the home fans held their breath but his effort whistled over the bar. But the away side hit back against the run of play with just under 15 minutes remaining, a cross from the right caused confusion in the City box and it fell to Jorge Grant who smashed the ball in just under the crossbar giving Farman no chance.
Things continued in a frenetic vein, both sides looking to nick the winning goal but chances were few and far between but Green created havoc in the County box, he raced onto Bostwick’s ball into the channel and turned to cross but with Ollie Palmer racing into the box Duffy just got in the way, and the visiting defender did it again moments later with Palmer again inches away.
The Imps forced two corners in quick succession but couldn’t take advantage, the ball did end up in the net in injury time from Palmer, but it was disallowed but City continued to push searching for the winner. Despite the late pressure, it wasn't to be and the points were shared.
The Imps 2 Notts County 2
1 Paul FARMAN
3 Sam HABERGHAM
5 Luke WATERFALL
9 Matt RHEAD
10 Matt GREEN
14 Jordan WILLIAMS
16 Michael BOSTWICK
19 Lee FRECKLINGTON
23 Neal EARDLEY
24 Danny ROWE
30 Alex WOODYARD
21 Josh VICKERS
2 Sean LONG
4 Elliott WHITEHOUSE (for Williams 84’)
8 Ollie PALMER (for Rhead 79’)
15 James WILSON
28 Nathan ARNOLD (for Rowe 72’)
32 Cameron STEWART
Booking: Rhead 30’ Williams 49’ Waterfall 81’
GOAL: Frecklington 37’ Green 69’
34 Ross FITZSIMMONS
2 Matt TOOTLE
4 Elliott HEWITT
5 Richard DUFFY
6 Matthew VIRTUE
7 Lewis ALESSANDRA
10 Jorge GRANT
11 Terry HAWKRIDGE
16 Shaun BRISLEY
23 Dan JONES
30 Jon STEAD
13 Branislav PINDROCH
9 Shola AMEOBI (for Hawkridge 75’)
14 Jonathan FORTE
17 Alan SMITH (for Brisley 90’)
18 Liam NOBLE (for Virtue 59)
19 Nicky HUNT
20 Liam WALKER
Booking: Hawkridge 59’ Alessandra 70’ Grant 81’
GOAL: Stead 35’ Grant 76’
Referee: R Joyce
Assistants: A Pashley & A Moore
Attendance: 9,603 (1509 County supporters)