By Kieran Curtis.
Lincoln City extended their run of six games without a win to seven as they drew in a goalless affair against Gillingham.
Neither side could find a breakthrough at LNER Stadium in a hard-fought battle that saw Lincoln reduced to ten men after Tayo Edun was sent-off in the 90th minute.
The form of the two teams coming into the game could not be more contrasting. Lincoln City had been without a win in their last six. Gillingham, however, were unbeaten in 14 league matches with a run that extends back to November 23.
Imps manager Michael Appleton made two changes from their loss versus Accrington last weekend, with Michael Bostwick and Conor Coventry coming into the side.
The Gills made the away trip off the back of a 1-0 home victory against Southend on Tuesday. Lincoln’s top scorer last season, John Akinde, made his return to LNER Stadium coming off the bench for Steve Evans’ side having left the Imps in January.
It was Lincoln who started the fastest out of the two sides after they forced a mistake from Jack Bonham in the Gillingham net. Tom Hopper managed to charge down his goal kick which fell to Anthony Scully on halfway.
The Irishmen broke into the Gills penalty area, but his attempt to square it across the box to Hopper was slightly behind the Imps striker, and Gillingham could clear.
Lincoln continued to create the more clear-cut opportunities in the opening stages of the game. In the 18th minute Neal Eardley whipped a low cross into the box and any sort of touch would have been enough for Lincoln to take the lead. Nobody, however, was standing on cue to turn it home.
The Imps came close again to opening the scoring in the 26th minute. Tayo Edun combined well with Tom Hopper for the full-back to create a crossing opportunity. His centre towards was met by Anthony Scully on the volley, but his effort was driven just wide of the goal.
Only three minutes later and Scully was again inches away from gaining the lead for Lincoln.
Liam Bridcutt’s low cross towards the back post fooled the entire Gillingham defence, but not Scully. He made his run towards the ball, only missing out on connecting with it by a matter of inches, but the linesman raised his flag for offside anyway.
After looking the most threatening side throughout the first half, Lincoln were seeking a reward for their efforts as they pressed to head into the break in front.
Jake Hesketh managed to get the ball out from under his feet in the midfield and spread it across to Neal Eardley who had made his way forward.
The full-back set himself on the corner of the 18-yard box before striking at goal. His drive tested the palms of Bonham in goal who parried in the ball into air, but collected it calmly at the second time of asking.
The second half started similarly to the opening 45, with Lincoln City coming the closest to opening the scoring in the 54th minute.
Jorge Grant opened the play out to Anthony Scully on the right-hand side. Scully entered the box, but when it came to the finish, his strike lacked any real conviction and was hit tamely into the hands of Bonham in the Gills’ net.
In the 63rd minute, the Imps were testing the Gills’ defence once again. Grant’s free-kick towards the back post was met by Bolger. The ball back across the area was met by Anderson, but he couldn’t keep his header down to trouble the visitors’ keeper.
A succession of corners in the second half saw Gillingham come close on a number of times.
In the 80th minute, Lincoln City sparked back into life. Tayo Edun crossed the ball deep into the Gillingham box and found the head of Tom Hopper.
His attempt was up in the air and was met by Harry Anderson. His header from, six yards produced a reflex save from Bonham.
Tayo Edun, who had been the source of a number of dangerous crosses into the Gills’ area, was then sent off in the 90th minute for accumulating his second yellow of the match.
The result leaves Lincoln 15th in Sky Bet League One who are now without a game for two weeks as they next face Burton Albion at the LNER Stadium on March 7th.
Gillingham sit in 10th in the table after the result and face AFC Wimbledon next weekend.
Attendance: 8,950 (682)
Lincoln City: Vickers, Bridcutt, Bolger, Hopper, Bostwick, Scully, Grant, Coventry, Eardley, Hesketh (Anderson – 58), Edun.
Gillingham: Bonham, O’Keefe (Graham – 81), Ehmer, Ogilvie, Hanlan, Roberts (Akinde – 64), Fuller, Jones, Lee (Charles-Cook – 85), O’Connor, Tucker.