Lincoln City 5-3 Ipswich Town: Lambert’s men end 2019 with defeat and slip to fourth in League One
Ipswich Town ended 2019 with defeat as they went down 5-3 at Lincoln City this afternoon.
The Blues had twice found equalisers when Luke Garbutt's stunning free-kick and a Harry Toffolo own goal had cancelled out Harry Anderson and Tyler Walker goals, but the game was ultimately up when Walker grabbed his second before Michael Bostwick completed the job with 10 minutes remaining.
Substitute Will Keane managed to pull one back for the visitors but that was as good as it got as Paul Lambert's men left pointless, with Will Hesketh adding the final touches with a breakaway goal in stoppage time.
The defeat means Ipswich have now not tasted success in League One in seven games, dating back to the November 5 win at Rochdale, heading into the New Year's Day visit to leaders Wycombe.
Lambert's men have slipped to fourth, with Oxford and Rotherham moving above them in the table.
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Lambert made three changes to the side which drew 0-0 with Gillingham on Boxing Day, with Flynn Downes and Andre Dozzell coming into the side in place of Cole Skuse and Jon Nolan, who both picked up knocks. Captain Luke Chambers returned from suspension at the heart of the Ipswich defence, replacing Toto Nsiala.
The visitors started slowly, with Lincoln having more of the early play and quickly taking advantage as Tyler Walker got the better of Luke Woolfenden before Jake Hesketh played a beautiful disguised pass which Anderson latched upon to lash home.
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Ipswich looked to respond, with James Norwood having a shot blocked, Luke Garbutt lashing one over and Kayden Jackson leading penalty appeals after he went to ground under a challenge from home goalkeeper Josh Vickers.
They were rightly waved away but Ipswich soon had their reward. It came from the boost of Garbutt as, after Dozzell had been brought down while charging towards goal, the Everton loanee's left foot send the ball firing through the wall and into the bottom corner of Vickers' net.
It was no more than Ipswich had deserved, after what had been their best period of play in several weeks, as they looked to profit on a Lincoln side who had begun to show signs of nerves after seeing their lead evaporate.
Town's momentum vanished when Janoi Donacien was forced off injured, following a midfield collision, with Gwion Edwards taking his place at right-back.
The visitors never really found their feet before the break and were punished accordingly, with a long ball forward from the back getting beyond the Ipswich backline, with goalkeeper Will Norris charging to try and narrow the angle but was unable to stop Walker lifting the ball high into the sky and into the net.
It was an even affair at the start of the second period but it was Ipswich who were next to strike. It came from a short corner which was whipped in by Alan Judge, with Norwood and Toffolo seeming to combine to divert it into the back of the net.
The goal had come out of nowhere and had looked to have given Ipswich a foothold in the contest, but that was whipped away 10 minutes later when Walker popped up for his second as he got on the end of a driving Joe Morrell run to finish nearly past Norris.
The game looked well and truly up for the visitors when Bostwick netted at the back post with his first goal of the season, making the home lead 4-2, before Keane finished a good Ipswich move with a low shot to set up what the visiting fans were hoping would be a grandstand finish.
Sadly, though, as Lincoln did their best to run down the clock, the Blues didn't have another chance left in them as a rocky year ended in another defeat as Hesketh's late goal put the exclamation mark on a poor afternoon.
Lincoln City: Vickers; Eardley, Bostwick, Bolger, Toffolo; Morrell, O'Connor (Chapman, 82); Anderson, Hesketh, Grant; Walker
Subs: Smith. Connolly. Lewis, Melbourne, Payne, Akinde
Ipswich Town: Norris; Donacien (Sears, 41), Chambers, Woolfenden, Garbutt; Downes, Dozzell, Edwards (Wilson, 64), Judge; Jackson, Norwood (Keane 75)
Subs: Holy, Kenlock, Huws, El Mizouni