Lincoln City 5-3 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Sunday, 29th Dec 2019 17:15
Town are down to fourth in League One following a bizarre 5-3 defeat at Lincoln City. Harry Anderson put the Imps ahead on six, Luke Garbutt levelled for Town in the 32nd minute before Tyler Walker restored the home side’s lead in first-half injury time. A Harry Toffolo own goal restored parity in the 59th minute before Walker’s second made it 3-2 on 72, then Michael Bostwick added a fourth in the 79th minute. Will Keane pulled one back for the Blues four minutes later but Jake Hesketh cemented the Imps’ win in injury time.
Boss Paul Lambert made three changes from the team which drew 0-0 with Gillingham on Boxing Day with Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes returning to the midfield and skipper Luke Chambers at the back.
The Blues, playing their final game of the decade, again lined-up in a 4-4-2 system with Chambers - returning from his one-match ban - alongside Luke Woolfenden at the heart of the defence and Garbutt and Janoi Donacien the full-backs. Will Norris continued in goal.
Dozzell and Downes were in the centre of midfield with Gwion Edwards on the right and Alan Judge on the left with James Norwood and Kayden Jackson up front.
Cole Skuse and Jon Nolan were missing from the squad having not travelled after suffering minor knocks on Boxing Day, while Toto Nsiala was also left out of the 18 having started the Gillingham match.
Lincoln, who were unchanged from their 1-0 Boxing Day defeat at Oxford, included former Town loanee Callum Connolly among their subs.
Imps defender Michael O’Connor headed a freekick from the left straight at Norris in the fifth minute after a scruffy opening spell.
And a minute later, the home side went in front. Hesketh broke towards the area and played a clever reverse pass into the path of Harry Anderson, who took it on and hit a shot across Norris and into the corner of the net.
The Blues, who again had made a slow start, looked to get back into it and on 10, after Edwards had picked up a loose ball midway inside the Lincoln half, Norwood saw a shot blocked by Neal Eardley, then Garbutt blazed over.
A minute later Downes scuffed wide from the edge of the box after breaking through a crowd of players as the Blues showed signs of getting into some rhythm.
Town claimed a penalty in the 14th minute when Jackson beat Josh Vickers to the ball on the byline and appeared to be upended by the keeper. Jackson was adamant he had been fouled but referee James Oldham and his assistant weren’t interested and the Blues were awarded a corner.
Two minutes later, Imps midfielder Joe Morrell, who was born in Ipswich, struck a shot from the edge of the box which Norris gathered at the second attempt.
The Blues were getting on top and having most of the ball but without creating a clear-cut opportunity, while Lincoln were presenting a greater danger on the break.
As the game reached the half-hour mark Town began to build up a head of steam, Downes hitting a shot which was deflected wide from the edge of the box. From the corner, Chambers nodded it back across goal to Edwards, whose header was unconvincingly punched away by Vickers.
A Blues equaliser was looking more and more on the cards and in the 32nd minute it came. Dozzell, who after a quiet start was increasingly involved, was fouled 25 yards out just to the right. Garbutt took the freekick and brilliantly curled it into the bottom left corner of Vickers’s net giving the keeper no chance.
It was the on-loan Everton man’s sixth goal of the season and a freekick every bit as good as his similar set-piece strike against Tranmere earlier in the season.
Lincoln came back into the game following the Town leveller but without seriously threatening before the Blues were forced into a change. Donacien had undergone treatment on a knee problem earlier in the half and was clearly being hampered by the knock. On 41 the St Lucia-born full-back made way with Sears taking over on the right of midfield with Edwards going to right-back.
Within two minutes, Edwards was booked after Jorge Grant went to ground after very little if any contact as he looked to turn away from the Welshman.
From the freekick, the home side went very close to going back in front. The ball was eventually played to Grant, who crossed from the left to Anderson who stabbed off the outside of the near post from a few feet out.
But the Imps support didn’t have to wait too much longer for a second goal. With the game in injury time, a long ball sent Walker away on his own in the Town half from where he looped the ball over Norris who had advanced well out of his goal and under the bar.
There was no time for the Blues to hit back before referee Oldham brought the half to a close.
Town had again started slowly and found themselves behind before they had got going. However, they subsequently got themselves on top and deserved their goal when it came.
But they allowed the impetus to swing back to the Imps in the final minutes of the half and conceded another poor goal from a defensive perspective.
Sears was yellow-carded for pulling back Grant soon after the restart, then Dozzell joined him in the book for much the same offence on Hesketh as Lincoln broke.
On 51 Lincoln’s Bostwick was also cautioned for a blatant pull on Jackson as he broke into the area with the offence committed just outside the box. Some referees might have deemed the foul worthy of more than a yellow card with Jackson otherwise in on goal. Garbutt took the freekick but hit the wall.
Two minutes later, a Lincoln freekick at the other end caused problems for the Blues who failed to clear the danger and Norris was forced to save Hesketh’s low effort from just inside the box and Garbutt belted the loose ball away.
Lincoln had made much the stronger start to the second half, however, Jackson’s pace was beginning to cause more problems. On 57 Cian Bolger and Jackson collided on the edge of the box with referee Oldham awarding the foul against the Town man when the decision might well have been given the other way.
The Blues hadn’t had an opportunity since the restart but a minute before the hour mark they levelled for a second time.
Sears did well to latch on to a loose Lincoln pass on the Town right and won a corner which Judge sent on from the right. Woolfenden appeared to get a flick at the near post and toffolo inadvertently nodded into his own net.
Having got back on terms for a second time the Blues began to pass the ball around both greater confidence.
On 62 a Jackson effort inside the box was blocked by Bostwick after a Norwood knockdown following a spell of Town possession.
Moments later, Jackson was sent away on goal but with the linesman’s flag raised, before the Blues switched Edwards for James Wilson with the former Lincoln man going to centre-half and Woolfenden to right-back.
Town again allowed the momentum to swing back to the home side and in the 72nd minute they went in front for a third time. Morrell was allowed to run unchallenged into the area on the right before cutting back to the far post where the completely unmarked Walker stroked his second of the game into the net.
Keane replaced Norwood for the final 14 minutes with the home side growing in confidence and the Blues looking ragged having allowed the Imps to get on top for a third time.
Town’s hopes of taking anything from the game appeared to be extinguished in the 79th minute when Morrell’s low ball into the box following a corner from the right somehow found Bostwick, who turned in off the far post and then Norris.
The Blues continued to search for something from the game and on 81 Garbutt hit a shot from the edge of the box which deflected wide.
And two minutes later, Town reduced the deficit to one when, after a well-worked move down the right, Woolfenden played the ball inside to Keane, who shot across Vickers and into the corner of the net.
As the fourth official raised his board announcing five additional minutes the Blues were putting the Imps under pressure with crosses flying into the box and the home side just about repelling the danger.
However, the game’s eighth goal was to go to Lincoln with Town caught by sucker punch break. Skipper Chambers was caught two against one as the Imps broke and Hesketh stroked the winner past Norris to seal what had been a bizarre afternoon at Sincil Bank.
The final whistle sounded soon afterwards to confirm the Blues’ third League One defeat on an afternoon when almost everything hit at goal seemed to go in at both ends with the game hardly an eight-goal thriller.
Town, who last conceded five in a 5-1 defeat at Reading in September 2015, have now lost three of their last four games with their winless League One run now stretching to seven.
Having gone behind after a slow start, the Blues got on terms and on top but failed to make their ascendency at that point tell and then conceded Lincoln’s poor second goal. Neither the defence nor keeper Norris will be keen to watch it back.
It was much the same story in the second half, Town having again got back on terms with the game there for the taking when they allowed Lincoln back into it and conceded the third and fourth with big questions again to be asked about the defending.
Keane’s goal gave Town a chance of what at that stage had seemed an unlikely point and the fifth Imps goal was down to the Blues throwing everyone forward in the closing stages.
Town, whose early season defensive frugality seemed light years away from this afternoon’s performance, are now down to fourth in the table with a trip to leaders Wycombe, who lost 4-1 at home to Coventry, on Wednesday.
Lincoln: Vickers, Toffolo, Bolger, Bostwick, Eardley (c), Morrell, O’Connor (Chapman 82), Anderson, Hesketh, Grant, Walker. Unused: Smith, Payne, Connolly, Melbourne, Lewis, Akinde.
Town: Norris, Donacien (Sears 41), Woolfenden, Chambers (c), Garbutt, Dozzell, Downes, Edwards (Wilson 64), Judge, Norwood (Keane 76), Jackson. Unused: Holy, El Mizouni, Kenlock, Huws, Keane. Referee: James Oldham (Derbyshire). Att: 10,012.
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