The Imps 1-0 win against Tranmere this afternoon, coupled with Dover beating Forest Green in the early kick-off means that Lincoln City proudly sit at the top of the National League for the second time this season.
I keep hearing people say things like ‘early days’ and ‘not getting carried away’, but as I’ve said in previous blogs I think it is our duty and our right to be getting carried away. We’ve suffered enough in this league, we’ve suffered worse than a ginger stepchild and I think we are entitled to feel good whatever stage of the season it may be. We are top of the league by two clear points, and that isn’t even where the good news stops.
If you look at the top seven we have now played four of them, three away from home. We may have been top after a couple of games against Woking and North Ferriby, but now we really have played some of the big hitters that this league has to offer. None more so that Tranmere Rovers who are most pundits tip for the top spot.
Our goal difference is very important as well, plus 14 which is five goals ahead of anybody else in the play offs. Come the end of the season those goals may well mean the difference between fifth and sixth. It may be the difference between top and second.
Sometimes a team plays well against the so-called big boys and fail to take advantage against the bottom feeders, but heavy defeats for North Ferriby and Southport show that we can put poorer teams to the sword. We look comprehensive against lower teams and controlled against stronger opposition. The win at Torquay was ground out by battling rather than blowing them away with a slick performance. This Lincoln side is the most adaptable I think I have ever seen. A bold statement? Maybe.
Back to todays game though and the significance of going top is clear to all Imps fans. We’re not going to win anything in September and I don’t expect the players to be looking at the table, but us fans will scrutinise it. It’s our job. As long as Paul Farman keeps his eye on those clean sheets and we keep winning games then the players have no need to look at the table. We know that being there means we’re still in touch, we’re still in contention and we are doing well. It’s significant because for the last five or six seasons we haven’t had a sniff of a top spot in September, at Christmas or anywhere close to May. Being top means something to us.
Even if Village Green had won earlier and kept us off the top spot the clarity with which the team approached todays game was still refreshing. Danny Cowley spoke of us controlling the game without having the ball and that is something that is becoming more and more evident. In the past giving up possession meant conceding advantage and putting ourselves on the back foot. Today Tranmere had lots of possession but at no point did they really threaten our goal.
Tranmere are a big club who have no place amongst the Solihull Moors or Barrows of this world. Their stadium is championship quality and their support is worthy of a similar setting. However that only serves to highlight the size of todays result for us. We competed with this behemoth of a football club in their own back yard and came out on top, not just on top but comfortably on top. Matt Rhead caused issues for McNulty and giving Bonne the chance to unleash his speed against their defence meant we always had two routes to goal whenever we went forward.
I’ve got to say a bit about the defence as well. Lincoln City haven’t been able to defend since the days of McCauley and Paul Morgan but the signs are there that we might just be heading in the right direction. Sean Raggett is settling in very nicely alongside Luke Waterfall to form a tight seal in front of Paul Farman. I had Jamie McCombe earmarked as Raggetts partner but I think Waterfall has been outstanding so far. Today against Norwood and Cook you’d expect them to be troubled a little, but between them and Alex Woodyard most threats were snuffed out before the ball got anywhere near the goal.
I’m going to stand corrected on Lee Beevers as well. When the season kicked off I saw him as a weak link with Woody the first choice full back, but his form has been excellent and I’m happy to be proven wrong. He is adapting his game to compensate for his lack of pace and he currently doesn’t look out of place in the back four. I thought he was calamitous at times last season but full marks to Mrs Beevers for whatever she’s sprinkling on his Weetabix.
So that’s that, for the next 72 hours we can revel in being top of the pile, pride of the national league and front runners in the race for promotion. There is a lot of football to be played and there will be some lows to accompany this constant barrage of highs we’re experiencing. However the more the season progresses I can’t help but feel that we are not only contesting the play off spots – I think we’re contesting the biggest prize of the lot. I think we’re as good as any team in this division and if we keep on believing and keep on playing as we are doing there’s no reason why you can’t book your holidays for mid May, because we could go up as champions.
You heard it here first.