Lincoln United ended a disappointing run of results on Saturday with a 1-0 win over bottom of the league Gresley FC.The Whites were looking for their first victory since January, after facing a run of one draw and four losses leading up to the match.
The game began with neither side able to take control of what was a first half of few chances and long ball efforts that were unlikely to succeed.
Gresley’s young team showed energy early on, and looked the more dangerous side. Forward Joshua McKenie was an ever-present threat but never really challenged Lincoln’s goalkeeper Michael Emery.
An early penalty shout from the visitors was quickly dismissed by referee Sam Kane, who never seemed likely to agree with what looked to be a soft claim.
Lincoln’s Jonathan Williams offered up the best chance for The Whites to take the lead in the first half, with a deflected shot that fell into the hands of Gresley goalkeeper Ben Allsop.
As the first half continued, the visitors looked more in control of the game. A free-kick from 25 yards looked dangerous, but the effort from Bradley Lawley went under the wall and wide.
The offside flag stopped a late Gresley effort that looked promising as they continued to push for a breakthrough.
Half-time saw a chance for Sean Wright, who took to the field for the first time since his appointment as caretaker manager, to energise his side.
The second half began with more pressure from Lincoln. And with Gresley seeming just as up for it as they were before the break, the game was end-to-end.
Despite their improved attitude, The Whites still struggled to break through. Forward Tom Garrick’s runs threatened the centre of the field often, but rarely found another white shirt in any kind of dangerous position.
Lincoln’s first change came ten minutes after the break, as Kallum Smith replaced Jack Whitewick. The lacklustre performance from Whitewick seemed symptomatic of the attitude of the rest of his team.
The game quickly became more physical as each side grew more desperate for a goal. A harsh tackle from Lincoln’s Charlie Ward gave Gresley a free kick in a good position, but the effort was punched out well by Emery.
A change for the visitors saw their number 10, Connor Deads, replaced by number 14 Devante Reittie. Riettie quickly proved a threat on the wing, with a solid cross into the box blocked by Lincoln’s captain Michael Jacklin.
After intensifying their pressure, Lincoln broke through after 73 minutes with a goal from Scott Matthew. A free-kick just outside the box gave the defender the chance to slot a quick ball past a tired Gresley defence.
Gresley looked set to equalise soon after the home side’s success with a free kick off their own. But captain Kane Lee scuffed his shot, missing the best chance his side had in the second half.
After a good effort from Riette ended just wide of the home side’s net, captain Michael Jacklin was forced off the pitch with a suspected pulled hamstring. Lincoln played the game’s final minutes with Sean Wright wearing the captain’s armband.
As the game drew to a close, efforts from both sides were easily collected by their respective goalkeepers. Lincoln’s Scott Matthews was forced into action with a harsh but ultimately well executed tackle to stop Gresley’s Kane Lee from getting to the box.
The final whistle blew, and a definite sense of relief could be felt from the home side. They were expected to win this one, but Gresley went toe to toe with them in a game decided on will more than top-quality football.
Caretaker manager Sean Wright said after the game: “It’s good to finally get a win. It wasn’t the best performance, but a win is a win at the end of the day.”
Report by Alex Keene.