Lincoln 1-0 Tranmere: Report

It not only rained and poured on Tranmere at Lincoln, but a Waterfall further dampened Rovers’ promotion hopes.

A towering header from Luke, who spent one season at Prenton Park under Ronnie Moore in the late 2000s, was enough to earn City the three points at Sincil Bank.

And indeed, the 1-0 result means Gary Brabin’s side have slipped to thirteen points off the summit of the National League, and extended a desperate run of form to one win in eight in all competitions.

Even a menacing forward line that contained Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Andy Mangan and James Norwood for the first time was unable to break down the home defence.

Rovers have now gone over seven hours without a goal, as they failed to find the back of the net for the fourth game running.

It was an attacking line up named by Gary Brabin, with Ben Tomlinson also starting on the wing.

Meanwhile Scott Davies and Jay Harris both returned from suspension, whilst Adam Mekki and Liam Hogan were on the bench after injury enforced absences.

Rovers have made a habit of starting games slowly this season, and after a two-week break, it was intriguing to see how quickly they could get out of the blocks here.

As it was, a couple of players looked rusty and it did not take Lincoln long to register their first chance, with Liam Hearn firing into the near side netting from inside the box.

Tranmere soon found their feet though as Taylor-Fletcher had a brace of chances, firstly catching the ‘keeper off his line and curling off target from wide on the left.

He then saw a drilled effort from 22-yards deflect for a corner, whilst sandwiched in between was an ambitious volley from Norwood, hooking past the far post from inside the box.

What the visitors were not doing though was getting into threatening positions inside the box.

Most chances were from distance, as illustrated by a brace of Jay Harris efforts from long range.

One lacked pace and power, limply rolling into the gloves of Paul Farman, but the other, some 15 minutes later, was drilled goalwards and required a sharp save down to the right.

At the other end, Rovers had been rarely troubled.

Lincoln had put the ball in thet back of the net once, but Matt Rhead was correctly flagged offside, whilst Greg Tempest looped a shot onto the roof of the net early on.

All too often, moves were breaking down as the hosts gave away silly free-kicks, often infuriating the Sincil Bank crowd.

But they were winning their aerial battles, with Rhead in particular a tough man to beat when long balls came forward.

And on the stroke of half time, Rovers were inevitably undone by a set piece into the box.

Tempest took it, whipping the ball in from the Lincoln right, and former Tranmere defender Luke Waterfall met it.

He had been left inexplicably unmarked and thumped a header past Scott Davies, who barely had time to react before the back of the net was bulging.

That left Gary Brabin with a bit of thinking to do as he went into the break, knowing an important team talk was needed to turn the game a round.

And what he said seemed to work, with Rovers creating a succession of early chances as they tried to turn the screw.

Norwood had one, hooking wide across goal after good work down the left by Jennings, before Taylor-Fletcher teed up Tomlinson to shoot tamely at the ‘keeper.

But as Lincoln flooded the box with more and more defenders, the threat from the visitors lessened.

Rovers were again restricted to half-chances; Tomlinson flicking one across goal and wide from Norwood’s ball over the top, and Mangan forcing a save with a skidding 25-yard free-kick.

With 15 minutes left, Brabin turned to his bench for the first time, with Mekki coming on in place of Tomlinson.

But the Imps were beginning to wrestle back control of the game and press forward themselves.

Matt Hill did will to block one vicious Jack Muldoon shot the at looked destined for the far corner.

And then Tempest then twice miscued off target, once over the bar and a second time wide.

Davies kept Tranmere in it minutes later, superbly saving to prevent thet lead being doubled.

Steve McNulty won the ball just outside the box, but his touch was just too heavy and it fell to Muldoon.

He smashed towards the far corner from 25-yards, only for Davies to spring nimbly to his right and claw away.

By now, the game looked long and many of Tranmere’s players looked beaten.

They lumped the ball forward, but it was more filled with hope than anything else.

And despite four minutes of added time, Rovers were unable to pose any attacking threat late on as they slipped to twelfth in the table.

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