Lincoln City 1 Fleetwood 2: First league goal for Garner sets Town up for thrilling win
Simon Grayson's Fleetwood earned a first win in five games with an impressive display at high-flying Lincoln.
A first league goal for Ged Garner and another from Callum Camps either side of half-time gave the Cod Army a comfortable lead before substitute Callum Morton pulled one back for the hosts late on.
Ryan Rydel replaced the injured Charlie Mulgrew in the only change to the Town side which drew with Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
Despite Town’s early possession it was Lincoln, starting the game second in the table, who created the first chance from a free-kick.
Jordan Rossiter fouled Anthony Scully on the edge of the area and James Jones drove the ball powerfully across for Regan Poole, whose header flew just over.
On 15 minutes Callum Connolly tried to turn defence into attack but lost possession to Morgan Rogers as Lincoln looked to break. Rogers found Brennan Johnson at pace and he flashed a snapshot wide from 25 yards.
Three minutes later the Cod Army carved out their first chance as Dan Batty found Kyle Vassell, who turned Lewis Monstma and fired a shot that stung the hands of Imps goalkeeper Alex Palmer.
A neat move involving Tom Hopper and Johnson created another opening for the hosts midway through the half but this time Anthony Scully bent a shot inches wide.
At the other end Rossiter played in Wes Burns, who beat the offside trap, but Palmer got down well to divert his strike behind for a corner. Danny Andrew swung the ball in for Connolly, who headed wide.
Seven minutes before the break Vassell found himself in a good position inside the area but Palmer got down well to save the striker’s bobbling shot.
The breakthrough did arrive two minutes before the interval, however. Batty’s free-kick was cleared as far as Garner, who followed Saturday's first League One start with his first league goal, volleying home sweetly through a crowded penalty area.
The Cod Army began the second half much the same way they ended the first – and soon doubled their lead.
Attacking at pace, Batty and Garner played an excellent one-two before the latter found Camps, who fired into the top corner past Palmer in the 53rd minute. It was top scorer Camps' 11th of the season but his first since November.
Four minutes later Vassell earned a free-kick on the edge of the area, which Burns fired straight into Palmer’s arms.
Lincoln boss Michael Appleton made a triple substitution in desperation just after the hour, and it was one of the trio that reduced the deficit 10 minutes later.
Goalkeeper Palmer found Morton in space 30 yards from goal and he kept a cool head to slot under Alex Cairns.
A well-worked Lincoln free-kick then allowed Tom Hopper time and space in the Fleetwood area but Connolly met the cross just ahead of Morton to deny him a second.
Grayson, meanwhile, made his first change with 10 minutes to go as Rydel limped off and was replaced by Janoi Donacien.
A flurry of late Lincoln corners came to nothing before Harvey Saunders and Paddy Madden replaced Vassell and Garner for the final two minutes plus added time, Madden making a cameo comeback after coronavirus.
There were a few nervy moments in the dying moments as Rogers and keeper Palmer forced Cairns into saves but the Cod Army emerged with their first away victory of 2021
Lincoln: Palmer, Poole (Eyoma 63), Montsma, Jackson, Edun (Bramall 62), Johnson, Jones (Sanders 70), McGrandles, Scully (Morton 62), Hopper, Rogers; Subs not used: Archibald, Morton, Roughan, Long.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Hill, Connolly, Andrew, Burns, Camps, Rossiter, Batty, Rydel (Donacien 80), Garner (Saunders 88), Vassell (Madden 88); Subs not used: Coleman, Dufy, Holgate, Morris.
Referee: David Rock
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