Super sub George Lloyd’s excellently taken second half header at league leaders Lincoln City helped Cheltenham Town make it four games unbeaten with a brilliant point at a sold out Sincil Bank.
Shay McCartan’s first half effort from distance caught Scott Flinders out and bounced past him at the near post to put the Imps on course for promotion but Lloyd’s big moment with 18 minutes to go left Lincoln having to wait for theirs until after the full-time whistle.
That was the academy graduate’s first of the season as he came off the bench to silence Sincil Bank and earn a credible point for Michael Duff’s side, but it wasn’t silent for long as the hosts were confirmed as Sky Bet League One bound shortly after the game.
Robins boss Michael Duff made three changes to his starting squad after last week’s draw with Exeter City as Jordan Tillson, Sean Long and Rakish Bingham replaced Chris Clements, Ryan Broom and Luke Varney.
Right-wing-back Long was making his first Sky Bet League Two start for the Robins after recovering from injury to make his first fourth tier appearance in Cheltenham colours off the bench against the Grecians seven days ago.
It took until the ninth minute for the first goal scoring opportunity as John Akinde ran through on the wide left, but his cross was hooked clear by Ben Tozer – the former Barnet striker then had the first attempt on goal but smashed his volley high and wide.
The lively Akinde then headed off target but it didn’t take long for the League One bound hosts to go ahead with their first shot on target.
Tillson slipped on the wet surface which allowed McCartan to work into space and have a long-range effort which bounced awkwardly and beat Flinders at his near post with just 18 minutes played.
Bingham had two half chances for the visitors shortly after though, however despite working himself into space on both occasions, both attempts were blocked by each of the Imps’ centre backs in Michael Bostwick and Jason Shackell.
Kevin Dawson was then fouled 25 yards from goal and Chris Hussey’s teasing delivery caused real problems inside the penalty box as Billy Waters stretched to reach the ball unsuccessfully following a knock-down.
Set-piece specialist Eardley then curled a free-kick marginally over the Robins crossbar as the clock ticked towards the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Just before the interval one of Cheltenham’s brightest performers in Conor Thomas was caught in possession and Mark O’Hara unleashed Akinde who fired over the near post top corner from a tight angle.
Some determined work from Waters at the start of the second period allowed him to set up Hussey for a first-time cross which went out for a corner which was cleared despite an intricately worked routine from the Robins.
Goal-scorer McCartan was then booked for diving when he broke free with Flinders saving Danny Rowe’s shot before the referee pulled play back to issue the booking, much to the relief of Duff’s side.
But then came an amazing moment for 19-year-old Lloyd, who finished a great move with Danny Cowley’s side playing flat for the majority of the second half, stooping to head in Hussey’s outstanding cross.
The goal came about after Tillson’s neat flick to Hussey, whose sixth assist of the season was pinpoint for Lloyd, who celebrated with passion in front of the travelling Robins fans tucked into the corner of Sincil Bank.
There was an anxious wait at full-time, but the hosts were still confirmed as promoted despite the Robins holding them to a draw.
LINCOLN CITY: Gilks (Gk), Shackell ©, O’Hara, Pett (Rhead 78), Andrade (Rowe 53), Toffolo, Bostwick, McCartan (Frecklington 69), Eardley, Anderson, Akinde. Subs not used: Vickers (Gk), O’Connor, Bolger, Roberts.
ROBINS: Flinders (Gk), Long (Broom 73), Boyle, Tozer ©, Raglan, Hussey, Tillson (Forster 86) Thomas, Dawson, Bingham (Lloyd 65), Waters. Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Maddox, Pring.
REFEREE: Nicholas Kinseley
ATTENDANCE: 9820 (164 from Cheltenham)