Both sides came out unchanged for the second period and Crewe began in the same way as they started the first and should’ve taken the lead instantly after the restart. Dale did well to get in behind but was pulled back and from that free-kick, Oliver Lancashire rose highest and hit the top of the woodwork, The Imps were very fortunate. That missed opportunity came back to bite the Railwaymen as just five minutes after hitting the bar, Lincoln took the lead.
From a Crewe perspective, it will have been a poor goal to concede as Montsma played the ball to Jones who released Scully, the latter playing the ball across the face of goal for Hopper to tap into the net at the far post. To Crewe’s credit, they came out fighting after going behind, as Kirk played a lovely chipped ball to Dale who controlled the ball swiftly but Sean Roughan nabbed the ball and put the ball behind. From that corner, Kirk picked out Billy Sass-Davies who lost his marker in the middle and fired a header into the back of the net, leaving Palmer no chance to level the game just minutes after falling behind. As when they went behind, Crewe were on the front foot once more looking to turn the game on its head with Ryan Wintle trying his luck from distance but the ball was the wrong side of the post from his point of view, although it looked like Palmer would’ve had it covered.
George Grant found himself with a few yards on his left-hand side and he slipped in McGrandles but Lancashire once again made a vital block to put the ball behind from a corner. James Jones flicked on the resulting corner at the near post, perhaps inadvertently, and arriving on the scene was Lewis Montsma to fire a volley into the roof of the net to give Lincoln the lead for the second time. This time we were the ones pressing and looking for a third, potentially killer goal and a corner provided that opportunity when Crewe didn’t clear, the ball eventually finding its way to Alex Bradley who blasted the ball back towards goal but Richards made the save.
Perry Ng played an excellent ball into Mandron but the big forward was unable to match the power on the ball onto his own header, his feeble attempt easily gathered by Palmer. Crewe once again looked at sixes and sevens from a corner and failed to properly clear as McGrandles headed the ball towards goal on multiple occasions before giving away a free-kick. Neither side in truth looked at ease trying to defend corners and Mandron worked Palmer slightly more than his previous attempt but was unable to convert. The ever-reliable Lancashire came to Crewe’s rescue again as a cross looking to find Hopper was dealt with by Crewe’s centre-half and his experience told as he played the ball off The Imps forward to avoid conceding a corner.
City’s first substitution 80 minutes into the contest saw Tayo Edun replaced by Callum Morton, giving the forward his first action in an Imps shirt following his arrival from West Brom a day earlier. Crewe rarely threatened in the final ten minutes of normal time and only really came alive in injury time when Lancashire headed over the bar and desperate defending by The Imps saw Montsma throw himself towards the ball to try and preserve City’s slender advantage. Just before that Scully was replaced by another of Friday’s signings Remy Howarth. Then in the fifth minute of four added on Crewe were awarded a slightly dubious free-kick when Luke Murphy threw himself to the ground but Pickering was unable to keep his effort on target and that was the final action of the game.
So it’s Lincoln who progress and put themselves into the hat for the second round draw tomorrow, with the third round also being drawn in a new twist given this season’s quick turnaround from Round Two to Three.
Personally, I thought today’s performance was fairly decent given that we didn’t have a full-strength team and that we came up against opposition with some real quality. If we can build on this performance ahead of next weeks season opener against Oxford then I’m confident we can give them a really good game.
My man of the match today was Sean Roughan bearing in mind it was his first competitive appearance as a 17-year-old who was targeted down his side throughout the game. I thought he coped really well with the threat he faced and looked solid both in defence and going forward too.
There is the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night as Scunthorpe return to Sincil Bank, the place where we beat them 4-0 just a couple of weeks ago although I’m sure it will be a much closer contest this time given it’s a competitive fixture.