Reds lose Papa John's Trophy opener
Anthony Scully scored a hat-trick as Lincoln City beat Manchester United's Under-21s 3-2 in the opening game of our Papa John's Trophy campaign.
The Reds only had one recognised centre-back available in Bjorn Hardley and struggled to handle the former West Ham forward as the Red Imps took control of proceedings.
Charlie McNeill and Hardley pulled goals back during a stirring fightback as United carried more and more of a threat the longer the tie wore on, although Hannibal was sent off in injury time.
The boys will now need to pick up positive results against fellow Group F sides Sunderland and Bradford City in order to progress as one of the two qualifiers for the knockout stages, although the comeback does aid the goal difference.
Teddy Bishop spurned a very early chance when dragging wide after a lapse at the back but the home side continued to carve out a stream of opportunities.
Former Red Regan Poole delivered a dangerous ball form the right but there was no finishing touch in the middle and United keeper Dermot Mee flicked over an effort by Scully. The Irish forward was soon on the mark, however, with a simple tap-in. Poole fed Conor McGrandles and his cross was knocked against his own post by Martin Svidersky at full stretch. Mee was unable to reach it and Scully was left with the easiest of finishes.
McNeill had a shot deflect way off target and then attempted an audacious long-ranger that flew way over the 18-year-old debutant in the home goal, Sam Long, but also into the stands.
Although Dan Nlundulu failed to supply the required shot when trying to double the lead, it was 2-0 soon afterwards. A long ball by Bishop found Scully in lots of space down the left and he cut inside and unleashed a drive that Mee managed to get a touch to but was unable to keep out.
Lead coach Neil Wood reverted to a back four with Svidersky dropping deeper and it helped stem the tide before the half-time interval.
There was a switch back to a three-man defence in the second half but with Svidersky continuing to show discipline to drop in to help out. Despite a bright early run by Alvaro Fernandez, which ended with the Spaniard picking up a knock, the Red Imps reasserted their control.
Nlundulu was guilty of a miss from close range when Cohen Bramall fizzed over a left-wing cross. Scully showed him how it is done by completing his hat-trick, rising to head in a cross by Remy Longdon in the 57th minute.
Mee then pulled off two smart stops to deny Bishop and substitute Lasse Sorensen, and it provided a platform for a positive response at the other end. Shola Shoretire expertly controlled a pass by Charlie Savage and threaded the ball through for McNeill, who supplied a thumping finish past Long.
Savage, who took over the armband from D'Mani Mellor, and Fernandez mustered attempts that sailed off target as 16-year-old Sam Mather was one of the substitutes introduced late on.
In the 89th minute, Hannibal worked a short corner with Savage and crossed for Hardley to power another one back to make it 3-2. With five minutes of stoppage time being added, Hannibal received a second yellow card after a couple of late challenges and was sent off, but the gallant Reds still had a penalty claim when Shoretire went down inside the box.
Despite the result, plenty of experience will have been gained against accomplished opposition at Sincil Bank, with more challenges to come in this competition.
United: Mee; Wellens, Hardley, Fernandez; Svidersky, Savage; Shoretire, Hannibal, Hoogewerf (Mather 74); Mellor (Iqbal 74), McNeill.
Subs not used: Vitek, Jurado, Pye, Garnacho.
Scorers: Scully 23,32,57 | McNeill 68, Hardley 89.
Sent off: Hannibal.