Tomlinson pen 14
Ofori-Acheampong 33, 72
UNITED cruised to their second win of the season with a comfortable 3-1 win at Lincoln City after an early red card set the tone for the day.
The home side lost Nathaniel Brown to a straight red card after just eight minutes but the Imps were quickly lifted by a Ben Tomlinson penalty placing their visitors on the back-foot.
The Gulls took a while to adjust but when Duane Ofori-Acheampong scored his first goal in Yellow on 33 minutes, there was only one winner. Courtney Richards smashed home a stunner on the hour to make it 2-1 and Ofori-Acheampong added the third on a happy day for Riviera boys.
United manager Chris Hargreaves made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Aldershot on Bank Holiday Monday. Tom Cruise returned at left-back to replace youngster Levi Ives, who was away with the Northern Ireland Under-19s.
Jordan Chapell and Toby Ajala dropped down to the bench, enabling loan signing Josh Wakefield to make his full debut on the wing and Louis Briscoe was the choice to partner Ofori-Acheampong in attack. Fit-again Ashley Yeoman was chosen among the replacements, bumping Dan Sullivan out of the squad.
Lincoln boss Gary Simpson made one enforced change to the team beaten 3-2 at Halifax five days ago, as the suspended Hamza Bencherif was replaced by Marcus Marshall.
A bright start from both sides saw Lincoln win an early corner but United broke quickly through Ofori-Acheampong and when his progress was halted, a skidding low shot from Wakefield needed saving by the home goalkeeper Nick Townsend.
The afternoon settled into an early pattern of Lincoln possession but another swift break changed the complexion of the game on just eight minutes when Brown was shown a straight red card.
Ofori-Acheampong was the man in Yellow bearing down on goal after a pass from Richards and a flick from United’s big forward prompted Brown to stick out an arm to stop a clear goal-scoring opportunity, and the officials had no hesitation in reducing the Imps to ten men.
The Gulls suddenly had a different challenge and while it is always welcome to enjoy a numerical advantage, Lincoln were now playing with the sense of injustice that so often galvanises teams, and so it proved.
Tomlinson was the instigator of the opening goal, bustling past Dale Tonge and the covering Aaron Downes hauled his man down for a clear penalty. The same Imp stepped up to confidently send Martin Rice the wrong way and a 1-0 lead for the ten men in red and black.
United had to settle down quickly and captain Luke Young almost quelled any Yellow nerves with a snap-shot that flew inches over following a half-clearance, while the Lincoln reshuffle had seen French midfielder Arnaud Mendy drop into the back four to replace the departed Brown.
Young tested Townsend with his next attempt after surging into the box and it was a good save from the home custodian to hold onto the shot. Young was the major threat for the Gulls but Tony Diagne executed a superb challenge from the skipper’s third effort in five minutes.
Despite the skipper trying to press forward, the general pattern was Ofori-Acheampong being isolated up front, which was obviously something that needed to change. One opening did fall to Angus MacDonald but the young defender headed off target.
United were gradually turning the screw and another MacDonald header from a set-piece forced Townsend into an excellent save, smothering the ball on his goal-line with Yellow boots hovering for a tap-in.
Thankfully, it was merely delaying the equaliser and Courtney Cameron was the man who delivered a fabulous ball from the left to find the run of Ofori-Acheampong, who forced the ball home with a deft knee past the stranded Lincoln ‘keeper.
Confidence was now flowing through Yellow ranks and Richards came close with a fierce drive that required a tip over from Townsend. United were having a right go down both flanks and Lincoln were looking increasingly stretched.
Ofori-Acheampong then spurned a glorious chance to grab the lead following a whipped cross from Young but the big striker steered the loose ball wide from close-range. United ended the first period by losing Briscoe to a hamstring problem and he was replaced by Ajala just before half-time.
Another new Gull emerged for the second-half, as Chapell replaced Wakefield and the visitors were again the team pushing forward, with the advantage of an extra man really starting to have an influence on the game.
A spell of sloppy passing then had Hargreaves grimacing in frustration but a snap-shot from Young briefly raised hopes, only for the ball to fly comfortably over the crossbar.
The Yellow tempo needed to raise and Ajala was the catalyst, bursting into the box to create space for Ofori-Acheampong, but Mendy did very well to execute an excellent last-ditch challenge. Richards then put a shot wide after a decent lay-off from Ofori-Acheampong.
United were cranking it up and a surge from Cameron down the left ended with a pass inside for Ajala, who was extremely unfortunate to see his terrific shot cannon back off the bar with Townsend beaten.
The lead arrived from the next attack and well done to Richards for notching his first professional goal with a fabulous strike from 25 yards fizzing along the ground to find the bottom corner of the Lincoln net.
It was a special moment for Richards and Lincoln quickly responded by making a double-change, removing Jon Nolan and Marcus Marshall for the fresh legs of Karl Ledhsam and Todd Jordan.
The game settled into a sparring spell between the two sides and United’s mission was clearly to put the result to bed, while the tiring Imps were preparing their bodies for a final push to rescue an unlikely point.
The Gulls were the side to achieve their objective, as Ofori-Acheampong rolled home his second to seal the win. The powerful forward started the move by winning a tremendous header for Young to gallop forward.
The Yellow skipper looked like taking a shot but instead switched a clever pass back inside for the unmarked Ofori-Acheampong to steer the ball past a hopelessly stranded Townsend.
Conner Robinson came on for Jake Caprice in one final forlorn substitution for the deflated Imps and it was United who were still enjoying the acres of space available to them at Sincil Bank.
The happily under-employed Rice made his first save of the afternoon in the final 10 minutes to deny Ledsham’s header at the far post. A nasty facial injury for Robinson then prompted a lengthy break in play.
A massive ten minutes of injury-time was the last thing Lincoln wanted to see and Cameron started the added period with an excellent headed chance, but his effort rose too high to threaten Townsend.
Such was the amount of added time that Robinson was able to make an unexpected return from his blood-injury, while United gave Yeoman a run-out in place of Ofori-Acheampong for the final seconds of a contented procession to three terrific points.
Lincoln (4-4-2): 26 Nick Townsend; 17 Jake Caprice (16 Conner Robinson 74), 6 Tony Diagne, 23 Nathaniel Brown, 3 Sean Newton; 14 Jon Nolan (4 Todd Jordan 63), 12 Arnaud Mendy, 8 Alan Power (capt), 22 Marcus Marshall (10 Karl Ledsham 63); 9 Jordan Burrow, 11 Ben Tomlinson. Substitutes (not used: 1 Paul Farman (GK), 7 Sahr Kabba.
Booked: Newton 76
Sent-off: Brown 8
United (4-4-2): 1 Martin Rice; 2 Dale Tonge, 21 Angus MacDonald, 4 Aaron Downes, 3 Tom Cruise; 22 Josh Wakefield (, 12 Jordan Chapell H-T), 8 Luke Young (capt), 16 Courtney Richards, 11 Courtney Cameron; 7 Louis Briscoe (10 Toby Ajala 44), 24 Duane Ofori-Acheampong (14 Ashley Yeoman 90). Substitutes (not used: 5 Krystian Pearce, 23 Jordan Seabright (GK).
Booked: Young 34
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth
Attendance: 2,373 (135 away)