Lincoln receive an apology for ‘horrific’ penalty decision in favour of Posh, but why sympathy for the Imps should be tempered

Lincoln City claim to have received an apology from the EFL for the 96th-minute penalty decision which halted their own bid for promotion and instead sent Posh up to the Championship.

By Alan Swann
Monday, 3rd May 2021, 3:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 4:09 pm
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United scores the equalising goal from the penalty spot against Lincoln. Photo: Joe Dent/
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United scores the equalising goal from the penalty spot against Lincoln. Photo: Joe Dent/

The Imps were hanging on to a 3-2 lead at the Weston Homes Stadium on Saturday (May 1) when Anthony Scully was adjudged to have fouled Sammie Szmodics leaving Jonson Clarke-Harris to equalise from the penalty spot and seal the point Posh needed to seal second place.

It looked a dreadful decision by referee John Busby and TV replays didn’t alter that view leaving Lincoln boss Michael Appleton raging after the game.

Lincoln CEO Liam Scully contacted EFL referees’ chief Mike Jones soon after the final whistle and he’s had a reply according to Appleton.

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“They’ve apologised for the decision,” Appleton told Lincolnshire Live. “I’m not surprised. It was that horrific, they couldn’t do anything other than apologise. It doesn’t change anything. It wasn’t a good day for the ref. It wasn’t a good day for us as a club.”

Interestingly Lincoln have been awarded 11 penalties in League One matches this season, the most in the division, and some have been controversial.

After a 4-3 win over Lincoln in March when Jorge Grant scored twice from the spot for the losers, Plymouth manager Ryan Lowe said; “I have watched it (the second penalty) back and the lad (Grant) has bought it.

“I asked the ref before the game to be aware of that. Lincoln have had a lot of penalties.

“Whether it’s tactical or whether it’s cleverness I don’t know, but they seem to get a lot of pens and that’s what we were worried about.

“We addressed that with the group. We showed them footage of it, and told them not to dangle their legs.”

Lowe was also irritated after Lincoln were awarded a penalty in a 2-0 Imps win at Sincil Bank in October. Lowe said: “I rang Mike Jones and said ‘Have you got five minutes, give us a call back? ’He rang me back to be fair to him. He looked at it (a penalty decision) there and then and said ‘I have got to assess it with the ref. And he said ‘Ryan, I can categorically tell you it wasn’t a penalty’, which is a bummer.”

Gillingham manager Steve Evans after a 3-0 home defeat by Lincoln which included a penalty awarded for a supposed foul on Brennan Johnson in February said: “Their penalty was a game changer - the referee has made a poor decision. It’s not a penalty, it’s a dive. He should see that it’s a dive, but he made a lot of poor decisions.”

Ipswich Town and MK Dons are among the other clubs to have complained about penalties awarded to Lincoln this season.

It appears what goes around does really come around.