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Match Reports

REPORT | Lincoln City 0 Rovers 1

15 February 2022

Rovers pick up another win on the road as Dan Gardner's second half penalty seals three points for Gary McSheffrey's side.

Lincoln had most of the possession and chances but failed to really test goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell. Tommy Rowe looked the most likely for Rovers as he had several efforts on target blocked and on the 75th minute Joe Walsh was deemed to have made the block with his arm leaving the referee to point to the spot.

Dan Gardner coolly dispatched from the spot. Rovers defended valiantly in the closing stages, but it was Walsh - having already caused his team problem in one penalty box - who made life even tougher for the Imps with a late challenge on Ro-Shaun Williams in the other. He was shown a second yellow, leaving Rovers to see out the game against ten men.

Rovers made one change to the side that lost out to Portsmouth three days earlier with Ro-Shaun Williams coming in to replace Joe Dodoo. That sparked a change of formation for Gary McSheffrey with three at the back and Kyle Knoyle and Ben Jackson playing as wingbacks.

It was an uneventful opening quarter of an hour. Rovers conceded possession to the hosts but still created the only chance in this period when Matt Smith’s tireless pressing rushed goalkeeper Josh Griffiths into a poor clearance. Josh Martin was first to the loose ball finding Tommy Rowe at the edge of the box with his header. The No.10 sent a snapshot goalward, but it took a big deflection and floated kindly through to the keeper.

The first real chance of the evening fell to Lincoln City and came in the 16th minute.

It was good football around the box from the hosts with the ball eventually played to Morgan Whittaker who took a touch beyond the Rovers’ challenge and fired a good shot on target - Mitchell pulled off an equally good save. The keeper was on hand again to punch away Liam Cullen’s curling effort minutes later.

For all of Lincoln’s possession and passing, Cullen’s wayward effort from 20-yards was the only other shot by either team in the next 15 minutes.

Just after the half-hour mark, good strength by Reo Griffiths meant he could tee-up Rowe whose fierce effort on target was blocked by a Lincoln defender.

At the other end, it was ferocious defending by Rovers on the 38th minute - and a good save by Mitchell - which kept the ball out after a Lincoln City corner pinballed around the area. Rovers would most likely have had plenty of complaints if the ball had gone in with Conor McGrandles appearing to foul Kyle Knoyle before the first shot and appearing to control the ball with his hand before his second.

John Marquis probably should have given his side the lead shortly before the break. He was played through one-on-one, but Ollie Younger - who laid was on the floor - put his head where it hurt to take the ball away from him.

Cullen then missed what was arguably the best chance of the half after the trickery of Brooke Norton-Cuffy got the better of Jackson and Olowu. The home side’s No.8 fired over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box.

The final chance of the period went Rovers’ way. Intelligent play by Knoyle meant he won a free kick high up the pitch. Martin’s delivery was headed clear but only as far as Jackson. The left-back volleyed over.

Cullen was gifted another big chance early in the second period when he beat the Rovers defensive line to meet a lifted ball into the box, but Younger recovered to poke the ball away before he take a shot.

The sides then exchanged blocked shots from distance. Griffiths sizing one up for Rovers, Whittaker for Lincoln. Good pressing from Martin saw the ball spin across the Imps’ penalty box, but it was kind to Josh Griffiths who came off his line to collect.

The 1,035 Rovers fans - who had been in full voice throughout - turned the volume up again on the hour mark, cheering every tackle, and free kick or throw-in won. There was a real roar of appreciation when Reo Griffiths won his side a corner. Olowu won the header from Martin’s delivery, but it hit a man in red and white stripes.

At the other end, Norton-Cuffy - who was causing Rovers all sorts of problems - went on a mazy run before blazing wide.

With 16 minutes of the second half played, the match was temporarily suspended by officials as medics and physios from both teams rushed to attend to a medical emergency in the home end. The thoughts of everyone at the club are with the supporter involved and their friends and family.

After a 30-minute break, the match was back underway with 26 minutes of the match remaining.

Younger and Olowu both made important interventions to deny Brammall and Marquis respectively.

At the other end, Smith’s cross from the right landed at the feet of Rowe. The No.10 struck on target and the ball cannoned off the arm of Joe Walsh leaving referee Ben Speedie with no option but to point at the spot and book the defender.

Dan Gardner hammered the ball home from 12-yards to give his side the lead with quarter of an hour remaining. Changes followed with Mipo Odubeko and Joe Dodoo brought on in place of Reo Griffiths and Martin.

Lincoln were soon on the attack again but things were about to go from bad to worse for Imps defender Walsh. He kicked through Williams as the centre-back was trying to clear the ball earning himself a second yellow and an early bath with Lincoln left to play the remaining six minutes with ten men.

Long over-hit passes by the Lincoln midfield brought anger from the 8,000 home fans while centre-back pairing Younger and Olwou dealt with the balls into the box and Gardner’s key intervention after tracking back took the ball away from Marquis as he was about to shoot.

At the other end, Rowe flashed a hopeful effort wide from 20 yards. There was four minutes of injury time but Rovers saw it out to seal three massive points on the road at the LNER Stadium.


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