ewport County’s wait for a first away win since September goes on as they were punished for yet another slow start after two more early goals laid the foundation for a 3-2 reverse at Sincil Bank. The loss is their sixth on the road this season.
Lincoln sat top of the table at the start of play, a single point clear of MK Dons after last weekend’s 3-1 home victory over Morecambe and their quality was on show again from the off. Having done the double over County last season, they came out of the traps like greyhounds; first to every ball and straight into their passing game.
It took less than four minutes for the hosts to open the scoring; top scorer John Akinde taking the plaudits in his fourth straight appearance with a deflected close-range strike which spun agonisingly over Joe Day’s grasp and into the net.
It got worse just minutes later when, after a long-range effort from Antoine Semenyo warmed the palms of Grant Smith at the other end, Harry Anderson broke down the right hand side and fired a low shot across Joe Day and into the corner. Less than eight minutes gone, 2-0 to the Imps.
County came into this game arguably a week fresher than their hosts after a late deluge of rain meant that their home game against MK Dons was postponed until a later date; but in a game that saw them make a 382-mile rount-trip, this was only evident in small doses.
They were, however, in a position to see County make a game of it on the stroke of half time. Lincoln were guilty of not clearing their lines from a County centre; this resulted in pinball in the six-yard box where Padraig Amond was there to pounce, smashing in from barely two yards out to half the deficit.
The second half was a slow burner in comparison to the first; Padraig Amond sending a header wide was the only half-chance for either side in the first 20 minutes of the half. Shortly after the introduction of Joss Labadie, Antoine Semenyo had a free header from a corner but he could only put it a fraction wide of the post.
Lincoln reopened their two-goal advantage with a third goal just over 20 minutes from time. As County were undoubtedly in the ascendency, Tom Pett was played through behind the backline and his deflected left-footed effort found the corner beyond Joe Day’s despairing dive.
The match was made interesting again when Grant Smith had a moment of madness, gifting the ball to Jamille Matt. Matt then turned in and out before teeing up Amond for his second of the game with a beautifully taken effort into the top corner.
County did enjoy some late pressure but never created that final opportunity to get themselves level. Danny Cowley found himself sent to the stands during injury time for dissent towards the official but his side will spend Christmas on top of the League Two table. As for County, it’s Forest Green at home next up on boxing day, where the fighting spirit from this loss will need to carry on if they are to keep pace with the teams around them.
Man of the Match: Padraig Amond
Player Ratings: Day 5, Pipe (C) 5 (Sheehan 5), Butler 5, Franks 5, Willmott 6 (Harris 6), Dolan 5 (Labadie 6), Amond 7, Matt 6, Bennett 6, O’Brien 5, Semenyo 6
Attendance: 8,632 (185 away)