League Two - Play-offs - 1st Leg
Lincoln City0Exeter0

Lincoln City 0-0 Exeter City

Matt Green shoots for Lincoln
Matt Green was unable to add to his 16 goals this season for Lincoln

Exeter resisted a strong second-half performance from Lincoln to earn a draw from an entertaining first leg of the League Two play-off semi-final.

Exeter's Jordan Stockley wasted the best chance of a cagey first half when he somehow mis-kicked from close range.

The Imps were much improved after the break, with Matt Green twice denied by Christy Pym saves and Matt Rhead hitting the bar with a firm header.

But neither side could find a winner, with the second leg on Thursday.

Lincoln, who are chasing back-to-back promotions and a second Wembley trip in two months following their Checkatrade Trophy final triumph, will feel like their second-half showing deserved to produce a winner.

Rhead's physicality, the nous of Green and the willing running of Elliott Whitehouse posed an increasing number of problems.

Lincoln also had two first-half shouts for a penalty ignored by referee Ben Toner for clumsy challenges on Whitehouse and Rhead.

But both teams could point to excellent opportunities wasted.

Before the spot-kick claims Stockley made a total hash of the standout first-half chance, the Exeter man failing to get any sort of meaningful contact from six yards after a great run and cross by Hiram Boateng on the left.

Aside from that, there were only tame efforts on goal to test either keeper, Lincoln's Ryan Allsop making a routine stop from Ryan Harley's low strike and Pym easily dealing with a Green shot and a 20-yard Neal Eardley free-kick.

Just five points separated the teams in the league, with each side winning their respective home fixtures, and it was predictably tight until Lincoln began to take control after the interval.

Pym's saves from the lively Green set the tone for Lincoln, the second of which was almost turned in by Whitehouse on the follow-up.

Harley then went close for last season's beaten play-off finalists, but the chances dried up as both teams tired in the latter stages.

Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley told BBC Sport:

"It was a tight game between two good teams. They definitely edged the first half and we had the better of the second half.

"We played with a lot more purpose and intent in the second half. We defended well and had some good moments in that period after the break but couldn't find that elusive goal.

"I thought it would be close. We knew where we were at physically. We knew there was a ceiling on our performance.

"We had a few players playing out of position but hopefully we will get a few back and have little bit more balance for the second leg."

Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale told BBC Radio Devon:

"We both respected each other enough to make sure that we didn't allow the opposition too much opportunity and we both gave it our best shot.

"I think it'll be a very different game at St James Park on Thursday, but I think they'll fancy themselves and so will we.

"We know more about each other than we did 24 hours ago, so let's crack on."

Line-ups

Lincoln City

  • 22Allsop
  • 15Wilson
  • 5Waterfall
  • 6WhartonSubstituted forLongat 90+2'minutes
  • 23Eardley
  • 30Woodyard
  • 16Bostwick
  • 4WhitehouseSubstituted forPettat 84'minutes
  • 26AndersonSubstituted forPalmerat 84'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 9Rhead
  • 10Green

Substitutes

  • 1Farman
  • 2Long
  • 7Pett
  • 8Palmer
  • 12Chapman
  • 14Williams
  • 36O'Hare

Exeter

  • 1Pym
  • 2Sweeney
  • 38Storey
  • 15Moore-Taylor
  • 21Moxey
  • 6Tillson
  • 4James
  • 44BoatengSubstituted forSimpsonat 74'minutes
  • 7HarleySubstituted forArchibald-Henvilleat 90'minutes
  • 25Taylor
  • 11Stockley

Substitutes

  • 3Woodman
  • 5Archibald-Henville
  • 8Simpson
  • 12Jones
  • 20Jay
  • 22Wilson
  • 28Edwards
Referee:
Ben Toner
Attendance:
9,509

Match Stats

Home TeamLincoln CityAway TeamExeter
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home10
Away10
Shots on Target
Home4
Away4
Corners
Home5
Away5
Fouls
Home18
Away14

Live Text

Match ends, Lincoln City 0, Exeter City 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Lincoln City 0, Exeter City 0.

Booking

Ollie Palmer (Lincoln City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jake Taylor (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ollie Palmer (Lincoln City).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Lincoln City. Sean Long replaces Scott Wharton because of an injury.

Delay in match Scott Wharton (Lincoln City) because of an injury.

Substitution

Substitution, Exeter City. Troy Archibald-Henville replaces Ryan Harley.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Scott Wharton (Lincoln City) because of an injury.

Substitution

Substitution, Lincoln City. Tom Pett replaces Elliott Whitehouse.

Substitution

Substitution, Lincoln City. Ollie Palmer replaces Harry Anderson.

Foul by Jayden Stockley (Exeter City).

James Wilson (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dean Moxey (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Harry Anderson (Lincoln City).

Dean Moxey (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Harry Anderson (Lincoln City).

Attempt blocked. Pierce Sweeney (Exeter City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lloyd James.

Ryan Harley (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by James Wilson (Lincoln City).

Substitution

Substitution, Exeter City. Robbie Simpson replaces Hiram Boateng.

Foul by Jake Taylor (Exeter City).

Matt Green (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Lincoln City. Matt Rhead tries a through ball, but Elliott Whitehouse is caught offside.

Foul by Lloyd James (Exeter City).

Harry Anderson (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Jayden Stockley (Exeter City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Luke Waterfall (Lincoln City).

Jayden Stockley (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Michael Bostwick (Lincoln City).

Attempt missed. Neal Eardley (Lincoln City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

Corner, Lincoln City. Conceded by Lloyd James.

Foul by Jordan Moore-Taylor (Exeter City).

Matt Rhead (Lincoln City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Dean Moxey (Exeter City).

Neal Eardley (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Ryan Allsop.

Attempt saved. Jake Taylor (Exeter City) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is saved in the bottom right corner.

goal