REPORT: Lincoln City v Wanderers

Eoin Toal’s first goal for the club made sure Wanderers didn’t end 2022 empty handed as Lincoln held on with 10 men to keep their unbeaten home record intact.

Toal’s header 13 minutes into the second half cancelled out Ben House’s early strike as the Red Imps chalked up their ninth draw in 11 league games at the LNER Stadium this season.

This one will have felt particularly valuable for the hosts as they survived the final half hour a man down following defender Joe Walsh’s dismissal for two quick-fire yellow cards.

For Wanderers it was another point added to the tally as they reached 37 at the half-way stage of the season in the play-off places.

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But after totally dominating the second half they will have felt there were potentially two more for the taking on a night they just lacked the cutting edge to press home their advantage.

Wanderers made three changes to their starting line-up for the first of two games in four days either side of New Year, with Kieran Sadlier getting a starting spot and MJ Williams and Kyle Dempsey returning in midfield.

Sadlier and Dempsey combined early on for the latter to curl an effort just wide.

But in a sluggish start from the Whites they fell behind after 10 minutes.

After three successive clean sheets, the Wanderers’ back line – still missing Ricardo Almeida Santos and Gethin Jones – was breached too easily when Danny Mandroiu slid a free-kick through for House to run onto and slot home his seventh goal of the season.

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It was a poor goal to concede and Lincoln almost doubled their lead seven minutes later when Walsh met a flick-on to glance a header just wide.

Aaron Morley did his best to coordinate a response as he looked to get Wanderers’ playing and there were at least signs towards the end of a disappointing first half that Evatt’s men could find a way back into the contest to threaten the hosts’ unbeaten run.

That continued after the break as Wanderers forced the issue for the first time with Morley delivering a couple of dangerous balls into the box as the Whites pressed for an equaliser in front of the energised travelling fans.

Temperatures were rising as Walsh went into the book following a couple of confrontations and Wanderers then handed out some punishment of their own as they equalised with almost an hour gone.

Wanderers had looked a threat from set-pieces and when Morley delivered another, Toal stooped at the near post to meet a corner and flash home a header to open his account.

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Moments later Walsh was sent off when he pulled back Dion Charles after being given the slip by the Wanderers’ striker.

And City wingman Jack Diamond then went into the book as things briefly threatened to get out of control.

The momentum was all with Wanderers now as they looked to make their numerical advantage count as Elias Kachunga, Amadou Bakayoko and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson all came on to help try and find a winning goal.

Evatt’s men were camped almost exclusively in City’s half but against a wall of black shirts and with play constantly stopping and starting, finding a way through again wasn’t straightforward.

It wasn’t until the first minute of six additional minutes at the end that Wanderers had another clear sight of goal.

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But from Toal’s cross Bakayoko could only chest the ball wide before Kachunga also steered a header off target as the Whites missed the chance to be the first to leave Lincoln this season with maximum points.

Wanderers: Trafford; Toal, Aimson, Johnston; Bradley, Morley, Williams (Bakayoko 68), Sadlier (Lee 81); Dempsey (Bodvarsson 76); Charles (Kachunga 68), Afolayan. Substitutes: Hutchinson, Iredale, Beck.

Booked: Bradley

Lincoln City: Rushworth; Eyoma, O’Connor, Walsh; Poole, Virtue, Sorensen, Roughan; Mandroiu (Robson 74), House (Hopper 82), Diamond. Substitutes: Wright, Jackson, Sanders, Vernam, Bishop.

Booked: Poole, Mandroiu, Walsh, Virtue

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

Attendance: 9,047 (1,257)

Read Time: 4 mins