Lincoln City were left rueing missed chances as they lost 1-0 to Manchester United Under-21s in the Leasing.com trophy.
Both sides hit the woodwork several times throughout the game, but a James Garner goal was all that separated the two sides at full time at Sincil Bank.
Lincoln City, the 2018 Football League Trophy winners, went into the game having lost their first fixture in the competition to Doncaster Rovers, while Manchester United Under-21s had beaten Rotherham away from home in theirs.
Two minutes in Lincoln City had a perfect chance to open the scoring as Jorge Grant played a lovely one-two with Jake Hesketh, but the number 18’s shot from 12 yards out was straight at the goalkeeper Matej Kovar.
And United’s shot stopper saved a Grant effort again five minutes later- the midfielder was proving to be a handful for the visiting defenders.
City were finding a lot of space down the left, and in the tenth minute Harry Toffolo latched onto a ball over the top and squared the ball to Akinde, whose shot was parried and cleared.
Then, just minutes later, Toffolo put in another low cross and only the crossbar could prevent a debut goal for Hesketh.
Due to the run of play it was somewhat of a surprise that the visitors opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
Tahith Chong, who has already made three appearances for the Red Devils’ senior team this season, sprinted forward with the ball and passed to James Garner on the edge of the box, who found the bottom left corner of the goal to leave Grant Smith helpless.
Chong continued to cause problems for the City defence with his tricky feet and rapid speed.
Michael O’Connor received the first booking of the game when he brought the forward down, and after going to ground several more times, Chong was met with a chorus of boos by the City crowd.
United’s opener gave them confidence and they created a few more chances over the following ten minutes which Smith denied each time.
Lincoln’s next big chance came with just thirty seconds left of the first half. Toffolo delivered another great cross which Harry Anderson headed towards goal from the penalty spot, but he was denied by the woodwork.
The Imps would have hugely benefited from a goal just before half time, yet they went into the dressing room trailing.
The Red Devils made a change at half time, taking off Chong- who was not injured but was being kept fit for the first team’s Europa League game on Thursday.
Just like in the first half, Lincoln almost scored in the opening few minutes of the half. This time Toffolo delivered a perfect cross to Akinde, whose shot ended up in the back of the net, however his celebrations were cut short as the would-be equaliser was ruled offside.
In the 57th minute, Hesketh was brought down around 20 yards out and Jorge Grant stood over the free kick in a promising position. The 24-year-old lifted his right footed shot over the wall and forced a good leaping catch out of Kovar.
An hour into the game the visitors hit the post when Ramazani, who had already scored in the first Football League Trophy fixture, struck a left footed shot from the edge of the box.
A couple of minutes later Appleton made his first change of the game, replacing Hesketh with Bruno Andrade. The forward instantly had several opportunities, smashing a shot at Kovar and blasting another into the stands.
But Lincoln were still missing a cutting edge in front of goal, so O’Connor and Anderson were substituted for Callum Connolly and Jack Payne respectively.
Connolly, who is on loan from Everton, stung the gloves of Kovar with ten minutes to go after Toffolo had found him in space 25 yards from goal.
Yet the game went flat, the Imps could not create chances, and it was the Red Devils who had the perfect chance to decide the game.
Largie Ramazani was found with plenty of space rushing into the box, he settled on the ball and tried to find the bottom corner, but, again, another goal was denied by the woodwork.
Lincoln came close to finding an equaliser from a corner in the closing minutes when Cian Bolger rose high and headed at Kovar, who caught the ball with relative ease.
The equaliser proved to be elusive and the visitors took all three points from Sincil Bank.
Now Lincoln will look ahead to their game on Saturday, when they host Sunderland in a huge game in Sky Bet League One.
Attendance: 3,532 (179)