Report by Matthew Williams.
The Whites left it late to see off third placed Marske United at Ashby Avenue on Saturday afternoon.
Matt Cotton secured all three points in the 86th minute for Lincoln United in a 3-2 win after they’d twice led through James Blunden and Kevin Hemagou.
Before the game Whites manager, Sam Wilkinson, was awarded the Evo-Stik league manager of the month for October.
New signing, Jonathan Williams, was handed a home debut while Kevin Hemagou and Kallum Smith returned to the subs bench after some time out.
Lincoln went in to the game second in the Evo-Stik First Division East just ahead of Marske in third and eight points behind league leaders Morpeth Town.
The first chance of the game came for the visitors as Scott Matthews’ header was chased down by Curtis Round, he found Jamie Owens but his shot went over the bar.
Another chance for the visitors inside the first five minutes saw Round get in behind the Whites defence, he picked out Glen Butterworth on the edge of the area who fired wide.
In the 12th minute Matt Cotton rounded the keeper only for Robert Dean to recover well in the Marske United goal and put the ball behind.
From the resulting corner the Whites took an early lead. Jonathan Williams’ cross was skilfully volleyed in by James Blunden at the far post.
Good inter-play between Cotton and Paul Grimes down the left wing presented a brilliant opportunity for Lynton Karkach but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and then sliced his turning shot over.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first-half. A Whites break-away fell to Grimes. He was then taken down by Butterworth who received the first yellow card of the game.
In the 41st minute Marske were level. Michael Jacklin blocked a shot from Round that led to a corner for the visitors. The ball was swung in to the back post and headed across goal where Jamie Owens was waiting to coolly slot the ball home.
Just before half-time, Whites new signing Williams latched on to a loose ball and hit a powerful volley just wide of the post.
In to five added minutes of injury time and Cotton went on a weaving run and found his skipper, Sean Wright, waiting on the edge of the area. However Wright’s shot whistled inches over the bar.
Another opportunity came in added time for the Whites as they tried to regain their lead but the the chance was squandered by Karkach who should have done better when through on goal.
The half still wasn’t over with Karkach finding Scott Matthews running through. Karkach flicked the ball to Matthews but his shot, similar to Wright’s a few minutes earlier, was just inches too high.
The first-half ended 1-1 with both sides having a multitude of chances in an enthralling 45 minutes of football. The Whites had more of the opportunities with a flurry of efforts in stoppage time. Both goals came from set piece corners as Jamie Owens cancelled out James Blunden’s 12th minute volley. Sean Wright was unable to continue after his first half head injury and was replaced by Kallum Smith during the break.
Marske had the first chance to take the lead in the second half. Owens found space on the edge of the box but couldn’t keep his effort on target.
On the hour mark Whites manager, Sam Wilkinson, decided a change was needed up top and replaced Lynton Karkach with Kevin Hemagou.
In the 65th minute the visitors felt they should have had a penalty after Round was brought down in the area but referee, Anthony Tankard, turned down the appeals.
Minutes later, Michael Emery produced a fantastic save from Matthew Waters’ powerful effort to keep the game level.
Moments after Emery’s save at one end the Whites took the lead at the other. After 67 minutes substitute Kevin Hemagou used his pace to get in on goal and slotted home in to the bottom left corner. The celebration matched the quality of the finish as Hemagou completed a rounded off back-flip.
Another well worked corner from the visitors with 10 minutes to go fell to Waters 18 yards out but his shot went agonisingly wide.
In the 84th minute Jamie Owens thought he’d snatched a point for his side when he scored to make it 2-2. Craig Gott produced a wonderful cross-field ball for substitute James Fairley who picked out Owens to head home for Marske.
However two minutes later Matt Cotton’s brilliance secured all three points for the Whites. Cotton weaved his way through the Marske defence beating three players before
calmly stroking the ball in to the net to put Lincoln United 3-2 up.
Lincoln United managed to successfully negotiate the final few moments, including four added minutes of stoppage time to secure a well fought victory.
With top of the table Morpeth Town losing, the Whites moved to within five points of the league leaders. However, the fixtures don’t get any easier for Sam Wilkinson’s men as they face a tough test next Saturday away at fourth placed Brighouse.