Danny Cowley praised the impact of substitutes Kellan Gordon and Shay McCartan as the pair combined for the decisive goal which saw the Imps run out 2-1 winners over Forest Green Rovers.
John Akinde netted City’s first goal within the opening ten minutes of the game, but Rovers levelled through Reece Brown shortly after, but in the second half Gordon netted after coming on from the bench to ensure Danny Cowley’s men picked up the three points on a brisk November afternoon in Lincolnshire.
Speaking after the game, Cowley said: “I’m really proud of Shay and Kellan. Shay was disappointed not to start because he’s had a really good run in the side and done well up until Colchester.
“For him to get in that situation as a striker, who love scoring goals, to square it for another player was selfless. It’s a great quality.
“Kellan hasn’t had much of an opportunity but he’s trained diligently with no fuss. He’s worked really hard and trained well. When you do those things, football repays you.”
Despite extending a run of five games without a clean sheet, Cowley was full of praise for the manor his side defended in the second-half.
“We need to get back to keeping clean sheets, but I thought that was the best we’ve defended this season. Forest Green had some good possession and asked us some questions.
“We were really disciplined, they didn’t create any chances because we defended well. We’ve just said if you want to be winners, if you want to be a team that gets promoted, you have to find ways of winning when you don’t play well.
“A lot has gone against us this week with injuries so we’ve not been able to get players on the grass as much as we would have liked. You’re not always going to play well but you’ve got to be resolute and gritty. I thought we were all those things.”
Akinde’s first-half strike set the tone for the Imps and proved vital as they secured three points.
The frontman’s sixth of the campaign was just reward for his endeavour, as he chased a long ball which earned him a deserved goal.
Cowley said: “I was delighted for him, I thought he was unplayable. He’s had some criticism but I thought today, without having loads of service, he was a threat all day.
“He held it up for us and rang the channels. It was a good ball into the space and John’s turned water into wine with a brilliant finish. I’m delighted he got the goal that his hard work has deserved.”