Town three points off top spot after third win on spin
The Town clocked up their third win on the bounce and registered their fifth win in seven away matches with victory over Lincoln.
A howler from home goalkeeper Paul Farman put the Hatters in the driving seat when he pushed a harmless Andre Gray cross into his own net on 27 minutes.
The Town were enjoying the better of the chances and dominating a Lincoln side low on confidence and two minutes after the break they doubled their lead when half-time substitute Jon Shaw was given the freedom of the home penalty area to nod home his second of the season.
After the Hatters had spurned chances to put the result beyond, doubt the Imps pulled one back shortly before the hour when Jamie Taylor shot past Mark Tyler.
It set-up a tense final last half-an-hour but the Town held on as Lincoln pushed for a point.
Buckle made just one change to the side that beat Southport last Saturday, Jake Robinson replacing Yaser Kasim in midfield.
The Town made a bright start and had two chances in the first 90 seconds to grab an early goal. Firstly a fine move involving Robinson, Scott Rendell and Stuart Fleetwood ended in Alex Lawless firing a shot over from the edge of the box before Fleetwood raced through down the left and dinked a left-foot shot wide moments later.
The Hatters were enjoying the better of the opening stages and all Lincoln could muster was a wayward effort from David Morgan from 25 yards.
Two minutes later Fleetwood almost profited in the penalty area after Lincoln got themselves in a pickle before the Imps went up the other end with Adam Smith but his low shot was never going to worry Mark Tyler.
On 18 minutes a last-ditch interception from Dan Gray denied Fleetwood the opportunity to the pull the trigger when the Imps right-back cut out Robinson’s pass in the 18-yard box.
To their credit Lincoln were forcing their way into the game and the Town had Tyler to thank for a fine stop on 22 minutes. Smith showed close control down the left to cut inside and send a mis-hit shot hurtling goalwards that the Town keeper did well to stretch a hand up and turn the ball over the bar for a corner.
The Hatters were weathering the storm, however, as the Imps forced a series of corners and, on 27 minutes, the visitors were rewarded by taking the lead in bizarre fashion. Home stopper Farman, who once handed the Hatters a 1-0 win at Gateshead at 2009 with an own goal, was at it again in Lincoln colours. Gray’s right-wing cross seemed an easy enough task for the goalkeeper to take but, under no pressure, the home number 1 inexplicably dropped the ball into the net to give the Town the lead.
Gray, although not officially credited with the goal, was now full of confidence. Two minutes later he burst down the right to win the Hatters’ first corner before he was booked on 37 minutes after attempting to win a penalty having darted into the box.
It was end-to-end stuff as the hosts looked for a quick response to going behind and Tyler came to the Hatters’ aid again four minutes before the break when he got down low to his right to keep out Jamie Taylor’s shot on the turn that almost crept into the corner to ensure the Hatters led at the break.
Buckle made a double substitution at half-time with Shaw and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner replacing Robinson and Rendell, and the changes had an instant impact with Shaw doubling the Town’s advantage. Fleetwood curled in a dangerous free-kick from the left to the back post and, with all the time in the world and no defenders around him, the centre-forward was on hand to nod home his second goal for the club.
It was almost 3-0 on 53 minutes when Fleetwood fired a shot on the turn from the edge of the box that whistled inches wide of the target.
However, 30 seconds after Fleetwood had come close again on 57 minutes when forcing Farman into a good top with his legs, the Imps pulled a goal back when Taylor capitalised on a mistake at the back from the Town to drill a shot from 20 yards past Tyler.
Buoyed by that goal Lincoln went in search of a leveller as the game swung from end-to-end once more.
O’Donnell blazed over on 63 minutes after Gray had sped down the right before Farman spilled a cross from the young midfielder that Fleetwood was unable to turn home two minutes later.
Lincoln were desperate, pushing for an equaliser as they put the Town under plenty of pressure, but efforts from Morgan and centre-back Andrew Boyce were off target to the relief of the 864 backing the Hatters.
The Town were always a threat on the break and they almost made the game safe with two minutes left when Shaw sent Fleetwood away. His effort was blocked but the ball fell at the feet of Shaw who powered a drive at goal that looked to be heading home before Boyce threw himself in the firing line to deflect the ball over.
Four added minutes were indicated by the fourth official but the Town saw them off with some great defending to register their fifth away victory of the season to leave them three points off the top.
Bring on the next two home games.
See you then, starting Tuesday against Braintree at Kenilworth Road.