REPORT | ARGYLE 0 LINCOLN CITY 2
Lincoln City 2
Home defeats have been extremely rare this season but Argyle were undone by a determined Lincoln City display and a day when the Greens were unable to find their normal fluency in attack.
Olamide Shodipo fired the Imps in front on the half-hour but it was a goal from Ben House, just two minutes into the second half, that really took the wind out of the Pilgrims.
Argyle boss Steven Schumacher made three changes from the Good Friday win at Morecambe. Danny Mayor and Jay Matete both scored as substitutes at the Mazuma Stadium and came into the team alongside Nigel Lonwijk, replacing Brendan Galloway, Jordan Houghton and Sam Cosgrove.
The game opened with a deluge from the sky and the Pilgrims demonstrated the early impetus, Tyreik Wright surging into space before delivering a clever cross that was cleared on the stretch by the Imps.
Lincoln adopted an aggressive press on the Pilgrims through the early exchanges but that did allow room for Tyreik Wright and Mayor to threaten the visitors when that press was beaten. Mayor tried to recreate his Morecambe moment with another lovely effort, but this time it was turned around the post by goalkeeper Carl Rushworth.
Matete then had an effort blocked before the energetic midfielder released Ryan Hardie for a run on goal. Hardie lined up his angles and struck the shot sweetly enough, but Rushworth was again well positioned to make the save.
Hardie curled another attempt narrowly over and the Greens were the side in control when Lincoln struck with a painful suckerpunch. It was a fine team move from the Imps and when Daniel Mandriou stretched to feed a pass into Shodipo, he finished past an exposed Burton.
The goal arrived in partnership with some spring sunshine at Home Park but the Greens were unable to find an answer before the break.
Argyle restarted with a nightmare moment in front of the Devonport, as House found room to spin in the penalty area and fire a 15-yard shot beyond Burton and into the bottom corner of the home net.
Houghton and Ben Waine entered the fray from the Pilgrim bench, replacing Mickel Miller and Matt Butcher. It wasn’t long before more fresh legs were introduced, with Cosgrove, Callum Wright and Finn Azaz coming on for Joe Edwards, Hardie and James Wilson.
All five permitted substitutes were on the pitch for Argyle with 30 minutes still to play. Waine was first to pose a threat, nipping in front of Rushworth for a glancing header just wide of the post from a floated Azaz cross.
The Argyle changes, along with a growing desperation to salvage something from the game, naturally left the Pilgrims open at the other end. Mandriou almost took advantage with a weaving run that culminated in a rising drive but Burton was equal to the challenge with a fine save to his left.
Burton’s next block to deny Mandriou was even better, standing strong to repel a fierce near-post drive from eight yards after another break by the Imps. Argyle badly needed a spark to lift their Easter Monday frustration.
A tremendous 40-yard pass over the top by Azaz did pick out a run from Cosgrove, who saw his shot deflected wide for a corner, but the Imps cleared the set-piece and were soon back in front of the Argyle goal, Luke Plange forcing another decent save from Burton.
Waine scooped over from just inside the box after clever play from Mayor and the Argyle endeavour was never in doubt, but a lack of cutting edge ultimately made the difference.
Despite a disappointing day at Home Park, Argyle remain in the top two with six games remaining and no better way to restore that winning feeling than three points at Devon rivals Exeter City on Saturday.
Argyle: 25 Callum Burton; 5 James Wilson (26 Callum Wright 61), 6 Dan Scarr, 7 Matt Butcher (4 Jordan Houghton 52), 8 Joe Edwards (capt) (18 Finn Azaz 61), 9 Ryan Hardie (16 Sam Cosgrove 61), 10 Danny Mayor, 14 Mickel Miller (23 Ben Waine 52), 21 Nigel Lonwijk, 28 Jay Matete, 29 Tyreik Wright. Substitutes (not used): 32 Adam Parkes (gk), 3 Macaulay Gillepshey.
Booked: Wilson 30
Lincoln: 1 Carl Rushworth; 2 Regan Poole (capt), 3 Harry Boyes, 5 Adam Jackson, 11 Olamide Shodipo, 12 Ethan Erhahon, 15 Paudie O’Connor, 18 Ben House (9 Luke Plange 64), 19 Daniel Mandriou (16 Joe Walsh 76), 21 Lasse Sorensen, 26 Matthew Virtue (6 Max Sanders 68). Substitutes (not used): 29 Jordan Wright (gk), 24 Sean Roughan, 28 Dylan Duffy, 32 Jovon Makama.
Booked: O’Connor 43, Virtue 56, Erhahon 58
Attendance: 16,298 (381 away)
Referee: Tom Nield