Lincoln City 0-0 Wycombe Wanderers
A goalless draw isn’t usually a sign of a thrilling encounter but Lincoln City and Wycombe Wanderers played out one of the best 0-0’s you are likely to see last night at Sincil Bank.
In front of a raucous crowd of almost 9,000, Gareth Ainsworth made four changes to the side that won narrowly at Yeovil with Matt Bloomfield, Sam Saunders, Nathan Tyson and Craig Mackail-Smith replacing the ill Luke O’Nien and Dominic Gape, while Scott Kashket and Nick Freeman also dropped to the bench.
Lincoln had the better of the first half as both sides went hammer and tongs in search of crucial points in their respective push for the play-offs and automatic promotion respectively, neither giving an inch in a fiercely competitive encounter.
The scene was set with both teams going long in pursuit of their target men, Matt Rhead and Adebayo Akinfenwa respectively, and it was the Imps that made the ball stick better in the opening stages.
Lee Frecklington had a goal ruled out for offside as early as the third minute as Rhead was adjudged to have been offside earlier in the move.
After 18 minutes the first clear chance was created as Rhead flicked on a long diagonal to Harry Anderson but he dragged his shot wide of the target when he should have done better. Immediately afterwards Tyson was harshly booked by referee John Brooks for an innocuous aerial challenge.
Joe Jacobson, who was excellent all night, had a fright after 23 minutes when he could only slice clear but thankfully the ball landed on the roof of the net. The following set piece from a corner was also tipped onto the crossbar and behind as the hosts laid siege to the Wycombe goal.
Wycombe were still battling gamely however and in a brief moment of respite, a cross from Saunders was headed over by Akinfenwa.
Unfortunately the Beast had picked up what appeared to be a calf injury, and after attempting to run off the injury the striker succumbed to the knock and was replaced by Randell Williams after 36 minutes. Williams was straight into the action as Wycombe went on the front foot and Tyson’s pace down the left caused problems as Wharton deflected his cross towards his own goal but Ryan Allsop in the Lincoln goal did well to react to the deflection and save.
The remainder of the half was almost constant Imps pressure – defender Luke Waterfall firing well over after a loose ball fell into his path, Frecklington shooting well over on the stroke of half time, and Rhead having a goal correctly disallowed for a blatant shove on Adam El Abd.
It was all hands to the pump and the second half was set up for Lincoln to continue attacking the Chairboys, but that never materialised as Wycombe grew into the game and created the better chances for the remainder of the match, with the Imps failing to create anything of note as Brown remained untroubled.
El Abd was soon booked for halting an Imps breakaway but the first opening of the second period came when Harriman drove into space and cut inside, seeing his deflected left footed shot kept out low by Allsop. Saunders then fired over from a presentable position and Tyson had a ferocious effort from 25 yards beaten away by Allsop.
After 65 minutes Paris Cowan-Hall had replaced the tireless Mackail-Smith, who put in a real shift tonight, and his aerial presence in a central position helped push the Chairboys up the pitch, and the away fans sensed a chance for a famous win as the atmosphere cranked up another notch, to almost deafening levels.
Ollie Palmer came on for the hosts after 72 minutes, replacing the increasingly ineffective Rhead who had been marshalled quite superbly by the two Wycombe centre halfs as the game had progressed.
After 84 minutes the best opportunity of the game arrived from a corner as Williams turned the ball goalwards and Tyson spun but saw his effort from close range saved by Allsop.
Saunders, just like every Wycombe player tonight, had ran his absolute heart out and had nothing left in the tank as stoppage time approached – he was replaced by Curtis Thompson.
There was no time for any further chances though and an explosive match played in a cauldron of an atmosphere was drawn to a close. This was a terrific encounter for a 0-0 with both sets of fans superb on the night. Exeter winning closes the gap but this could be a critical point in the promotion race.
Ratings: Brown (6), Harriman (8), El Abd (9*), McGinley (7), Jacobson (8), Bean (8), Bloomfield (7), Saunders (7) (Thompson 90′ N/A), Tyson (7), Akinfenwa (6) (Williams 36′ 7), Mackail-Smith (7) (Cowan-Hall 65′ 7)
Goalless at Sincil Bank
Lincoln City 0-0 Wycombe Wanderers