Michael Appleton admitted persistence rather than quality was behind Lincoln’s win over 10-man Tranmere Rovers.
The Imps completed back-to-back league wins for the first time since August – and for the first time ever under Appleton – as they eventually saw off Tranmere, who had Corey Blackett-Taylor dismissed for two bookable offences five minutes before half-time.
John Akinde scored the only goal of the game 13 minutes from time when his shot struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced down just over the line.
It threatened to be a frustrating afternoon for Appleton’s side as the 10 men of Tranmere dug in.
“We’ve all seen it, when a team goes down to 10 men, they get men behind the ball and make it difficult,” said Appleton.
“The gaps and spaces we were creating before they went down to 10 men were filled up a little bit.
“As a crazy as it sounds, I was actually a little bit gutted when their player got sent off.
“We were beginning to switch play and were getting in time and time again out wide.
“Then, following the sending off, they made sure the gaps between the midfield and the back four were smaller. We then had to play in front of them a bit more.
“That’s why we kept changing it, giving them different problems and I suppose we got the reward in the end. It was more persistence than quality at times.”
Blackett-Taylor received his second yellow card for blocking the ball as Neal Eardley tried to take a quick free-kick.
Tranmere boss Micky Mellon felt the Imps were fortunate not to have a player dismissed themselves.
“The game hasn’t been decided by than anything other than what we all know,” said Mellon.
“How we didn’t get a penalty at the end, I’m miffed. But there’s nothing you can do about it now, except for getting myself into the trouble, which I’m not prepared to do.”
When asked for his thoughts on Blackett-Taylor’s red card, Mellon added: “I would ask you to count how many fouls two of their players made.
“I don’t want to see people get sent off. But everyone here could see how many fouls two of their players on yellow cards committed. I’m amazed how long it took for one of them to get a yellow card.
“If the game’s going to be reffed like that, it’s got to be the same both ways.
“I’m trying really hard just to talk about my team. I’m really frustrated for them. They gave everything and looked the better side until the sending off, then we had to go into a different shape.”