ACCRINGTON Stanley kicked off their new League One campaign in disappointing fashion with a 2-0 defeat at Lincoln City.

Goals from Michael O’Connor and John Akinde, from the spot, either side of half-time condemned the Reds to an opening-day defeat on the road.

Manager John Coleman handed debuts to summer signings Joe Pritchard, Joe Maguire and Colby Bishop for the trip to Sincil Bank.

His charges had to soak up the pressure as last season’s League Two champions piled forwards, needing goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov to make a string of fine saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

Jack Payne had the first real chance for the hosts when he fired wide from outside the box.

The visitors’ best opportunity before the break came courtesy of Sean McConville’s free-kick but the midfielder could only fire over after being fouled.

Lincoln have been on an upward curve over the past few years with two promotions in three seasons earning them a place in the third tier for the first time this century.

And they showed why as they took the lead, O’Connor rising highest to head summer signing Jorge Grant’s corner home 10 minutes before the break.

Evtimov was in trouble once again as he failed to catch a corner with Harry Anderson nodding over from 10 yards out.

Payne’s speculative volley flew gratefully over his bar but after half-time, Evtimov needed to pull off a handful of great saves to keep Stanley in the game.

The Bulgarian keeper produced a super stop to deny Tyler Walker a debut goal, then keeping out Michael Bostwick’s goal-bound diving header.

Down the other end Pritchard tried to make it a debut to remember when he chanced his arm but missed the target without testing the goalkeeper.

After the hour Evtimov once again frustrated Walker as he safely held the striker’s venomous volley.

Accrington then threw everything at the hosts as they tried to get something out of the game, Bishop and McConville linking well to open up space for the latter to shoot into the side netting.

McConville next controlled the ball well and forced Josh Vickers into a good save to deny his volley.

But Lincoln remained a threat, Walker through on goal only for Evitimov to keep him out for a third time with 15 minutes remaining.

And the Imps’ crucial second goal came when Bruno Andrade was brought down by Mark Hughes in the box just minutes after coming on, with fellow substitute Akinde firing home from 12 yards to secure the points.