Lincoln City 4-1 Swindon Town Six Things: early statement from the Imps

 

Danny Cowley – hitc.com

In a fine, counter-attacking performance, Lincoln City ensured they began their campaign with six points from two with a 4-1 win over Swindon, thanks to goals from John Akinde, Michael Bostwick, Harry Toffolo and Matt Green. Here’s six things for the game.

Ak-attack is back

Lincoln didn’t actually get off to the best of starts – their passing was a tad sloppy in the embryonic stages – but Harry Anderson won a 10th-minute penalty off Keshi Anderson. John Akinde’s campaign with Barnet last season had been disrupted by injury, but the summer signing coolly slotted home the spot-kick. While Matt Rhead, first choice last season, was always a useful reference point due to his physicality, Akinde seemed to provide that power as well as the ability to drive forward with the ball and we saw plenty of evidence of that in the first half: he is, potentially, a game-changing addition.

Lincoln onslaught

After the opener, Lincoln were very effective at getting into dangerous positions through quick counter-attacks. They were led by Anderson, who caused problems for Matt Taylor, the busy Shay McCartan and Bruno Andrade, who cut inside from the left. The trademark siren marked a 27th minute corner but Swindon failed to heed the danger warning, allowing the imperious Michael Bostwick to scramble the ball home, despite the best efforts of Martin Smith and Lawrence Vigouroux. Bagging two goals in one half of football is normally testament to a team’s clinical finishing but such was Lincoln’s dominance, they arguably could have been more ruthless; especially considering they didn’t have things all their own way thereon.

The brief Doughty-inspired resurgence

Swindon were awarded a controversial penalty shortly before half-time; it was an alleged hand-ball but it was a very powerful shot from Taylor that would have given the defendant little time to change their body posture. Still, Michael Doughty had few problems slotting home the spot-kick and the midfielder’s driving runs for a 25-minute period at the start of the second half threatened to bring Swindon back into the contest, with Kyle Knoyle getting further forward from right-back and Anderson looking bright and Taylor firing just wide on the hour-mark.

Cowley’s shrewd changes

Lincoln fans reckon Danny Cowley could well manage in the Premier League one day and on this evidence, it’s easy to see why; his changes altered the momentum of the contest. Firstly, he gave centre-back Jason Shackell his debut by taking off Michael O’Connor then moved Bostwick into midfield; the utility man’s aggression meant that Swindon couldn’t burst through the middle third at will. What’s more, Cowley brought on Matt Green and Tom Pett to add fresh incision in the final third at a time when Akinde and McCartan were tiring. Harry Toffolo bagged the third goal after Pett’s cut-back, before Matt Green doubled his seasonal tally by escaping from Olly Lancashire to slot home, to inflict on Swindon a deserved defeat.

No complaints for Swindon

Swindon’s play for much of the first half comprised off high balls; they hoped in vain that Elijah Adebayo, with very little senior experience, would win aerial duels against a seasoned powerhouse like Bostwick. The build-up play briefly improved in the second period, yet they lacked quality to test Josh Vickers. On this evidence, the Robins will be keen to get experienced striker Marc Richards back from injury, but they could have no complaints about the defeat.

Imps on the up

This was a huge statement of intent from Lincoln. While last season they could be criticized of being slightly one-dimensional at times, this year they pose a threat from lots of different angles and that could make them a very difficult team to stop. It would be premature to make concrete conclusions after just their second match, but it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which April rolls around and the Imps aren’t in the mix.