UNITED succumbed to a near last-minute winner by Lincoln striker Matt Rhead on a blustery and wet day at Plainmoor.
Drama struck the game early in the 2nd minute when defender Giancarlo Gallifuoco was penalised for a tackle on Sam Habergham inside his own area and striker Matt Rhead slotted home the resulting penalty. Gallifuoco made amends in the 21st minute when he pressured Lincoln defender Luke Waterfall into diverting the ball into his own net from a Dan Sparkes corner. Then Rhead struck to earn Lincoln all three points in the dying minutes of the game.
Kevin Nicholson made one change to the side that beat Braintree 3-1 seven days ago. Midfielder Sam Chaney dropped to the bench to make way for captain Courtney Richards. Goalkeeper Jamie Robba is on International duty so forward Jamie Chamberlain was named among the substitutes.
Rhead’s penalty in the 2nd minute sparked a frantic opening twenty minutes to the game.
United and Lincoln shared multiple chances and there could have been a few goals for both sides. Nathan Blissett fired just wide after getting the march in his marker.
Striker Jamie Reid was a lively presence, especially in the first half. He made a number of dangerous runs, with the ball, and without. One such run nearly led to a goal, then he followed it up with some precise link-up play with Dan Sparkes but Lincoln closed down Reid at the last moment.
The game was far too open at this point. Both sides were finding space and time on the ball but it was Lincoln who was edging the overall play.
United came back into the match in the 21st minute when Giancarlo Gallifuoco and Waterfall reached for the ball as they stooped to meet a sweetly struck corner from Dan Sparkes. Gallifuoco may have got the first touch on the ball but Waterfall sent it on target and past his own goalkeeper.
Manager Kevin Nicholson bemoaned his side’s profligacy in front of goal after the match, and with the amount of chances United created in the first half it would be hard to argue with him.
Luke Young fired over the bar after some neat build up. Reid beat his man on the left wing and found Nathan Blissett but he was well tracked by a defender. The man on loan from Exeter then linked up with Dan Sparkes but the promising move broke down.
A long free-kick from Sean McGinty was met by Gallifuoco inside the box but it was a difficult chance to convert and his header went over the bar.
The second half was again littered by chances that could have made United’s job a lot easier. Lincoln continued to threaten, and poured on the pressure in the last fifteen minutes to force the winner but in between United had opportunities to score more.
One of the best opportunities fell to Aman Verma but it also brought out the best out of Lincoln goalkeeper Paul Farman. Verma headed the ball down with great force, enough to test Farman as it bounced up.
Joe Ward then had two chances in quick succession. Firstly from a run into the box that was well blocked by the covering defender. Then after linking up with Reid, he tried to steady himself after breaking through a few players only to fire over when Verma was well-placed to receive the ball.
Nathan Blissett tested Farman once again when coming in from the left wing. It was a nice height for the ‘keeper and he pushed the ball away to safety.
United then had to endure a difficult last twenty minutes. There were panicky moments defending against a Lincoln side that had a hold over possession and created the most chances.
United threatened just once when a promising break was ended when striker Nathan Blissett was closed down by two defenders.
Despite the Gulls mounting stout resistance, the Imps front man Matt Rhead headed past Brendan Moore in added on time to take all three points back to Lincolnshire.