The Imps solidified their place at the top of Skybet League Two with a convincing victory at Port Vale as City put SIX past the Valiants.
The Imps scored three unopposed goals in the first half, Harry Anderson getting the first in the opening three minutes, Shay McCartan doubling the lead with a neat run and finish before the unfortunate Leon Legge, turned past his own ‘keeper. City started the second half as quick as the first with Michael Bostwick netting his second goal of the season, Tom Conlon reduced the arrears with a finely placed free kick. City weren’t finished though as Scott Wharton and James Wilson were to both head home from corners. Vale netted a late consolation from the spot, Ben Whitfield the scorer.
Before the game got underway The Imps were forced to make a late change as Jason Shackell was injured in the warm up, Harry Anderson was brought into the starting eleven from the bench as the late replacement for the defender.
The game kicked off with the sun blazing down and the wind howling around Vale Park with over 1,000 City fans behind Josh Vickers’ goal, and the first opportunity of the game was back up the opposite end of the field. Bruno Andrade making a mazy run down the left, before putting in a dangerous cross which was flicked out for a corner. The resulting flag kick was pinged into the near post by Harry Toffolo and ANDERSON was there to sweep home with just three minutes of the game gone.
The home fans were immediately subdued and the away following were bouncing, and they were within inches of celebrating another goal within 60 seconds, Neal Eardley swinging in a dangerous ball to which Matt Rhead flicked goalward, only to see it spin just wide of the goal with Scott Brown diving full length to his right unable to get to the ball.
Vale rallied and Idris Kanu tried his luck from just outside the area only to see Michael Bostwick in the way, then a long ball for Mitchell Clark was cut out by Vickers who read the flight of the ball to perfection to gather.
The home side looked to keep the pressure on and after winning a free kick in the Imps’ left channel, the opportunity to put the ball into the box was taken by Luke Hannant and his dangerous cross was met by Nathan Smith, his towering header drifted just wide of the frame of the goal as the home fans held their heads in their hands almost in unison with the Vale number 15.
City gradually started creeping forward with possession, although the wind was in blowing favour of the away side it proved to be as much of a hindrance. Toffolo putting a dangerous ball into the box, but it carried across goal and out of play at the back post aided by the elements. The Imps were close to making it two in the 27th minute after a flick from Rhead set Lee Frecklington away, he raced towards goal and clipped the ball over the onrushing Brown, the ball bounced agonisingly wide as the ‘keeper was unable to stop his run and clattered into the City skipper.
The next opportunity was to bring the second goal of the game as half time approached, a direct ball was played in the direction of Rhead, the ball rebounded to Anderson who fed McCARTAN who jinked past two onlooking markers and fired low and hard across the face of goal and into the bottom corner.
City went in search of a third before the break, Toffolo was close to getting on the scoresheet after a lovely link between Rhead, Tom Pett and the marauding full back, but his shot was blocked by a leaping Nathan Smith as Brown tried to read the flight of the ball behind him. McCartan was dragged back as the game headed deep into four minutes of stoppage time but was pulled back by Leon Legge on the edge of the box, Andrade took the resulting free kick and smashed it hard on target from an unlikely angle, Brown did well to palm the ball away from goal. However, it was the hosts who were to have the next chance of the half, a cross into the heart of the box was met by Hannant, his header forcing Vickers into a smart low stop. But City weren’t stopping pushing forward and were to get their third of the game, pressing high up the pitch and winning a throw in deep in opposition territory it was hoisted into the box where Rhead won his battle, flicking on and the unfortunate Legge was to turn the ball into his own goal.
Port Vale 0 The Imps 3
James Wilson came on for the second half in place of Frecklington, who was still suffering following the collision in the first half. Within minutes of kick off, City were inches away from a fourth goal and almost a second own goal when Anderson almost created a fourth goal for City as Theo Vassell diverted the cross inches wide. However, the flag kick brought the goal when Andrade took the inswinging cross which was flicked on at the near post and BOSTWICK made sure it went into the goal from almost under the bar.
Vale immediately replied as Tom Conlon curled home a free kick into the top corner beyond the dive of Vickers to reduce the arrears for the home side.
The game reverted to being played out in Vale territory as Rhead had a header at the back post tipped over by Brown in front of the travelling army of Imps who were once again in fine voice.
Conlon tried his luck from another free kick around 20 yards from goal, this time Vickers dived full stretch to his right to make a fantastic save and The Imps broke quickly with Rhead and McCartan heavily involved, the centre from the latter was hurriedly hacked away as the marauding Imps looked for a fifth goal. City won three quick corners and kept the pressure firmly on the home side, Andrade fired a low one to the near post and Scott Wharton turned the ball just wide of goal. Andrade and Toffolo then linked down the left with the latter pinging the ball just too far ahead of Rhead and McCartan in the box.
Kanu lashed a shot just over the top of Vickers’ goal which got the home supporters off their seats, before Wharton halted Ricky Miller’s attempts to pick up a head of steam towards goal.
Anderson kept working hard down the right flank and won what was to be The Imps’ 11th corner of the game, and the fifth goal for City was to come as Toffolo swung in the ball for WHARTON to head home powerfully at the near post.
Matt Green came off the bench and almost made it a half dozen as he burst into the box, to shoot but he was denied by Brown but again The Imps punished the home side. Andrade’s centre was met by JAMES WILSON to make it six for City in the final ten minutes of the game. Vale were to make the final mark on the scoresheet with moments to go, as Ben Whitfield swept home a late spot kick.
Port Vale 2 The Imps 6 (SIX)
1 Scott BROWN
5 Leon LEGGE
11 Luke HANNANT
13 Connell RAWLINSON
15 Nathan SMITH
16 Danny PUGH
17 Idris KANU
21 Theo VASSELL
22 Tom CONLON
23 Mitchell CLARK
24 Ben WHITFIELD
12 Sam HORNBY
6 Antony KAY (52’ for Clark)
7 Dave WORRALL
10 Ricky MILLER (46’ for Pugh)
19 Louis DODDS
20 Bredon DANIELS
25 Lewis HARDCASTLE]
Booked: Legge 45’ Miller 56’
Goal: Conlon 51’ Whitfield 90' (Pen)
1 Josh VICKERS
6 Scott WHARTON
7 Tom PETT
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
9 Matt RHEAD
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
23 Neal EARDLEY
26 Harry ANDERSON
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON
10 Matt GREEN (76’ for McCartan)
12 Ellis CHAPMAN (81’ for Rhead)
15 James WILSON (46’ for Frecklington)
18 Bernard MENSAH
GOAL: Anderson 3’ McCartan 38’ Legge (og) 45’ Bostwick 48’ Wharton 78’ Wilson 84’
Booked: Wilson 60’
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Assistants: Joe Clark & Richard Bartlett
4th Official: Alan Clayton
Attendance : 5,137 (1,165 Imps’ supporters)