In a Lincolnshire derby that surprisingly lacked tempo, 9650 fans saw Lincoln come out 1-0 winners through a brilliant Harry Toffolo effort early in the first half.
Coming into the derby, Lincoln were firm favourites. They had managed to keep their spot at the top of the tree over the Christmas period while Grimsby were coming off the back of three straight defeats and were sitting in fifteenth.
The atmosphere inside Sincil Bank was rising to breaking point just moments before kick-off as both sets of fans made it clear, in no uncertain terms, how desperate they were to get one over their Lincolnshire Rivals.
Lincoln started brightly, with Harry Anderson looking dangerous down the right wing, getting the best of Sebastien Ring in the opening exchanges.
The first chance however did fall to Ring as he broke forward after a corner, hitting it just over the bar.
Apart from Ring’s speculative shot, the Imps dominated early on, until the 12th minute, when Harry Tofollo opened the scoring for Lincoln. Hitting a low driven shot to the Grimsby keepers left as a Harry Anderson corner fell to him on the edge of the box.
After Lincoln’s goal the Imps piled on the domination with Grimsby failing to put together anything going forward until the 25th minute when Elliot Embleton snatched at a chance just inside Lincolns six-yard box.
This chance however did little to stop Lincoln’s domination of the game, with the Imps looking calm in possession of the football. The two Grimsby Town centre backs were struggling to deal with the physicality of Akinde as the game edged closer to half-time.
Grimsby however were not about to let the game slip away to half-time as they saw two corners cleared just in front of the goal line. They had started to get a foothold in the game and looked the more likely to score before the break.
The first half overall was a very stop start affair with constant petty fouls from both sides stopping the flow of the game.
Lincoln were very happy to be ahead as the half-time whistle blew although Cowley’s men needed to re-find the tempo from the start of the game if they hoped to capitalise on their lead in the second half.
Lincoln looked to respond quickly after the break, with the first chance of the second half falling on Michael Bostwick’s head after a dangerous corner from the right hand side.
The Imps continued their domination until the 56th minute when McCartan saw his goal chalked off after Akinde was deemed to have pushed a Grimsby defender in the build up.
Akinde quickly looked to make up for his mistake creating two quick chances that forced a good save and even better block from the Mariners back line.
After Akinde’s two quick fire chances the game fell into a lull with neither side able to create any clear cut chances with fouls continuing to be an issue for the flow of the game.
The only spark was seen when new signing Danny Rowe came on and almost created an open goal for Akinde after a clever free kick from Neal Eardley.
Rowe continued to breathe new life into the game when in the 76th minute he was just too fast for the Town defenders and goalkeeper. He got to the ball just in front of the Grimsby keeper, James McKeown, who was forced to take him out. McKeown clearly took the man rather than the ball and was sent his marching orders by referee Mike Dean.
As the game moved towards the full-time whistle, Lincoln failed to capitalise on being a man up in terms of adding to the score line. The Imps however did look very comfortable with their lead, dominating possession.
Lincoln continued to look comfortable as they looked to close out the game with Grimsby not getting anywhere close to breaking down the Imps backline in the closing minutes.
The final whistle blew and it was Harry Toffolo’s first half strike that separated the two sides. Although only 1-0 Lincoln had to be pleased with how they dominated and controlled the majority of the game with Grant Smith not having a save to make in the game.
After the match Danny Cowley explained how this one was for the Lincoln fans; “It’s great for the supports, they have been great for us all season, it’s not just almost selling out Sincil Bank every week buts its also about the atmosphere they bring every time.”
The Imps now look toward to their midweek game against Yeovil Town where they will be hoping to extend their lead at the top.
Report by Kieran Walsh.