TOWN lost this clash of cultures to a furious second-half onslaught and some disastrous lapses in concentration.

All seemed well as Town eased into the second half buoyed by an early lead from skipper Andy Booth and the confidence of a solid first-half defensive display.

All that was shattered, however, after referee Alan Butler stopped play seven minutes into the second half while police and stewards massed to deal with pockets of crowd trouble in the Co-op Community Stand.

Town never seemed to regain their composure after that and, when Lincoln reshuffled to bring on former Hyde United striker Simon Yeo, all hell broke loose.

Drilling the ball forward at every given opportunity in the sort of pressure play which took them to the play-off final last season, Lincoln equalised on 61 minutes when Town failed to block in the box and Marcus Richardson turned to tee up Gary Fletcher for a close-range toe-poke.

Peter Jackson's side contributed to their own downfall once again when Lincoln - roared on by the home contingent in a biggest crowd of the season - went ahead only four minutes later.

This time, goalkeeper Ian Gray - who had saved smartly from Peter Gain just before half time - went wide out to the right to clear Andy Holdsworth's back pass.

He succeeded only in finding Richard Butcher near the centre circle and when he headed forward, Town's cover was split with Sodje pushing up and Yates wide.

Richardson, on loan from Hartlepool, raced into the space and fired an excellent low left-foot shot across the diving Gray and into the bottom lefthand corner.

At that stage, Lincoln were rampant and showing exactly why their Route 1 football proves so effective at this level.

Credit to them, though, because they were lively in support of each other and crisp into the tackle and they twice had the ball in the net only to be hauled back for infringements.

It needed a change from Town to stem the flow because they weren't holding the ball up anywhere near as much in the first half and certainly weren't passing it as well through a midfield which became by-passed for spells.

Manager Peter Jackson sent on Nat Brown as an extra striker to replace wing-back Andy Holdsworth, who had done well during Town's first-half counter attacking, and he soon gained what should have been crucial reward.

There were 18 minutes left when Booth, continuing to work hard after an outstanding first-half display, found room on the righthand side of the Lincoln box and aimed a cross at the arriving support.

It didn't get far as Gain blocked the ball with his arm and referee Butler had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Tony Carss - wonder-goal hero of the previous week's victory against Torquay - stepped up quickly to place the ball on the spot, but he had to wait for the official to parade all along the 18-yard line to check no-one was encroaching.

Carss said it had no effect, but it certainly increased the tension for 1,704 Town fans who were waiting to hit the roof at the first billow of the net.

They were disappointed.

Carss' shot - fired a few feet off the ground to keeper Alan Marriott's right - was brilliantly beaten away and Town's chance of getting back in the match at 2-2 was gone.

Not quite, perhaps, as Lee Fowler's mis-hit shot fell invitingly to Booth in the box with 12 minutes left, but Marriott made a magnificent block and big Ben Futcher booted away the danger.

Jon Worthington, Efe Sodje and Paul Scott - recalled for the suspended Jon Stead - all tried their luck in the closing stages, but it was Lincoln who took advantage of Town's eagerness to equalise by grabbing another goal for themselves.

Jackson had committed the outstanding Nathan Clarke to attack by that stage and there were three and a half minutes of stoppage time played when Yeo broke down the left.

Town's cover was blown once again as Yeo had teammates in the box who could have scored with ease, but the striker had a first shot saved by Gray before forcing the rebound low into the corner.

It was a sickening finale for Town to a miserable sequence in which Lincoln built up an irresistible head of steam, but there were some plus points for Jackson despite his side's defensive solidity going to pot and them slipping to seventh in the table.

Firstly, the scored a quality goal after only four minutes and 28 seconds, thanks to fine work by four players.

Scott's determined challenge won possession in the first place and worker Worthington advanced with menace before releasing Danny Schofield on the left. His cross was so good that Booth couldn't miss a fifth goal of the season from close in.

Secondly, Town coped admirably for an hour with Lincoln's horrible long-ball game in an illustration that while there's still learning to be done, the basics are in place to get points from such games if only concentration can be maintained.

And thirdly the form of Clarke, who looks every inch the quality defender who will again attract Premiership scouts.

TOWN FORM (3-5-2)

Ian Gray Made some decent saves but disappointed to contribute to the second goal with a bad clearing kick Rating: 6/10

Andy Holdsworth Found pockets of space in the first half to play a key part in Town's counter attacks. Subbed to get on an extra striker Rating: 6/10

Tony Carss Hero to villain in one easy lesson after missing the penalty which would have put Town level at 2-2 Rating: 6/10

Steve Yates Solid enough in the first half as Town looked comfortable, but shared in the despair of second half pressure Rating: 6/10

Efe Sodje Finished the game with a knee injury after a battling display. Walked straight off the pitch in his disappointment Rating: 6/10

Nathan Clarke Had a fine game at the heart of defence and was pushed up front in the closing stages in search of an equaliser Rating: 8/10

Lee Fowler Put in some stinging tackles and influential in the first half. The midfield found it much tougher in the second Rating: 6/10

Jon Worthington Helped set up the Town goal with a burst down the middle. Unlucky to be booked but now faces a one-match suspension Rating: 6/10

Danny Schofield Provided a brilliant cross for Booth's goal and went close with a couple of shots himself as Town countered Rating: 6/10

Andy Booth Superb in the first half with a fifth goal of the season and terrific control. Worked hard all through the game Rating: 7/10

Paul Scott Back in the side and battled hard. It was his crunching tackle to win the ball which enabled Town to break and score Rating: 6/10

Lincoln City

Marriott, Weaver, Morgan, Futcher, Bailey (Yeo 60 mins), Liburd (Sedgemore 85 mins), Butcher, Gain, Fletcher, Richardson (Bloomer 82 mins), Green.

Subs not used: Pearce, Willis.


Star Man: Nathan Clarke

Won a huge amount of headers as he led a solid defensive effort for an hour. Looked confident and strong and, once again, his long throw was a useful Town weapon, although there were occasions when it could have been used and wasn't. Top effort though

Turning Point

The penalty miss by Tony Carss 18 minutes from time which would have put Town level at 2-2. Referee Alan Butler delayed the kick to check on any encroachment, which didn't help, but Marriott made a fine diving stop


Subs used: Lincoln: Yeo for Bailey 60, Bloomer for Richardson 82, Sedgemore for Liburd 85. Town: Brown for Holdsworth 67.

Subs not used: Lincoln: Pearce, Willis. Town: Senior, Holland, Mattis, Mirfin.

Scorers: Lincoln: Fletcher 61, Richardson 65, Yeo 90. Town: Booth 5.

Referee: Alan Butler (Nottingham).

Bookings: Lincoln: None. Town: Worthington.

Shots on target: Lincoln 7, Town 4.

Corners: Lincoln 4, Town 4.

Caught offside: Lincoln 4, Town 2.

Free-kicks awarded: Lincoln 17, Town 14.

Attendance: 5,718 - Lincoln's highest of the season. Away support: 1,704.

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