Theo leaves 

Fervent negotiations took place pitch side after the Imps fine 1-0 win over Solihull Moors. Theo Robinson wasn’t due to be at the ground having withdrawn from the squad for personal reasons. He emerged later in the game in the stands, and at the end of the game he entered into talks with Danny, with Kevin Cooke involved as well.

In the hours after the match it was confirmed he had joined back up with Southend Utd.

Despite the excitement Danny firstly praised Jack Muldoon for his goal and performance, and the post match shenanigans shouldn’t detract from a great performance by the centre forward.

After leaving Michael Hortin briefly to indulge in further discussions, he returned to confirm that Theo was the subject of interest from other clubs, but couldn’t confirm what exactly was happening. He did clearly state that he will never pay a player more than he’s worth, and he won’t pay a player more than his other players. Was this a barbed reference to Theo’s demands?

A passionate and less guarded Danny spoke of how proud he was to be associated with Lincoln City, and of how he only wanted players at the club who were proud to play for them. Essentially he spoke of no player being bigger than the team, and it seemed from his tone he was letting his passion spill through. He is always a measured and thoughtful man, but his words came across much more honest, and for want of a better word, raw.

So the search for a new striker starts / continues as our FA Cup hero leaves. The nature of his departure will doubtless sour the relationship he had with Imps fans, especially with the financial undertones. 

I’d like to thank Theo for his efforts and goals, and wish him every luck staying onside in the Football League. 

 

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Get on Radio Lincolnshire now

If you’re not listening to Radio Lincolnshire, I’d suggest doing it right now. The most exciting deadline day Lincoln City have ever experienced is unfolding live in true Sky Sports style.

Three way conversations between Theo Robinson, Danny Cowley and Kevin Cooke are being conducted live on Facebook and 94.9fm.

Will he stay? Is he going? Will we finally see the beast lurking within Danny if whatever he is working on doesn’t come off?

I really need to go to bed……..

The Lincoln Loco Presses On

City have gone four points clear at the top of the table this evening with a fine 1-0 win at Solihull Moors in front of over 1,000 travelling supporters.

Many fans believed a point away at Moors would be a good result given our games in hand, but if you want to win the title you have to be bringing three points home. Jack Muldoon’s goal early in the second half ensured we remain in pole position for a swift return to the Football League.

If any fans deserve league football at the moment, it is Lincoln City’s. 1135 of the attendance tonight was Imps fans further demonstrating the huge potential when the club are playing well. Solihull will be rubbing their hands with glee at such a big turnout, but from a City perspective it signals the continuation of a journey that shows no signs of slowing.

City had to hang on towards the end, five minutes of injury time turned into seven, and a late scramble in the penalty area looked like it might rob us of three points at the death. As we know by now though, this club fights for every ball, for every single minute of every single match. Spirit like that wins you not just games, it wins you titles.

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Imps fans at Sincil Bank last night.

 

I’m delighted for Jack Muldoon tonight, recalled in the absence of Theo Robinson. Robinson missed the game due to ‘personal reasons’, but was later seen in the ground glued to his mobile phone. Muldoon found himself starting, and he took advantage with a good strike to give us the 1-0 win. Jack has worked tirelessly, and despite being on the fringes his attitude has always been exemplary. Like Alan Power before him, I’m always pleased when a player with the right attitude gets himself back into contention.

Lincoln now have 61 points, four clear of Forest Green in second and still with a game in hand. That figure represents our total for last season, with three months still to play, and with us into the last sixteen of both the FA Trophy and the FA Cup, life couldn’t be much better. Tranmere did win at Woking tonight, but if we keep winning our games it isn’t going to matter at all.

I feared another FA Cup hangover, but Danny Cowley’s teams know how to bounce back from defeats. They know what is required to perform not just in front of big crowds and TV cameras, but also on cold nights at obscure grounds.

I was heading to bed early tonight, but Kevin Cooke’s cryptic comments about possible transfer news in the coming hours has ensured I stay up until at least eleven o’clock. I know transfer deadline day is busy for the ‘real’ media, but if there’s some news to bring you it’ll be something like my tenth blog in two days!!

There’s not much more to write now though, is there? We know we’re on our way, we shouldn’t expect anything less than the performance we have tonight. I think having been burned time and time again over the past decade or so, we are half expecting the wheels to come off somewhere. I’m just beginning to think that this time is going to be different.

The FA defended in TV row

The FA have been vehemently defended in the recent row over choosing Man Utd over Lincoln City for TV recently, a National League insider has contacted The Stacey West to offer an alternative view.

Dan Walker and Gary Lineker both tweeted that once City had got through their third round tie with Ipswich, the BBC had asked to feature that instead of the Man Utd and Blackburn clash. The FA refused leading to many to criticise the decision, including myself.

In a bath-time call last night a source defended the FA, stating that once the ties have been chosen it would be unfair to take a televised tie from one team to give it to another. If we are picked for TV against Burnley, how would we feel if the BBC then chose to screen the winner of Leicester and Derby?

There is some credibility to the argument. Once a tie has been chosen it would seem unfair to cancel it when another option presents itself. It would be hard to see Man Utd as the victims given their financial status compared to ours, but the argument is perhaps more based on principle than finance. Being told you’re on TV, then being told you’re not just days later would seem to be a injustice, irrespective of who you are.

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If the FA had believed in us enough, they would have chosen us in the first place.

 

It does pose a question of the BBC though. If they had wanted the chance of showing Lincoln, perhaps they should have chosen our tie first? The broadcasters choose their games, if they’d wanted us they should have gambled on us beating Ipswich even if it meant having an all Championship clash as a consolation prize. It’s all well and good winning brownie points in the days afterwards by claiming you wanted to show Lincoln, but there was clearly little belief we’d get through on their behalf.

I wasn’t too disappointed that the game was an old-school 3pm kick off. Saturday was a wonderful day and had a real cup-tie feel, and being staged at the traditional time helped stoke that atmosphere. Furthermore seeing us feature first on Match of the Day enabled fans at the game to enjoy the coverage on TV as well.

I’m not going to bang on about it anymore, finding negatives with our cup run is like finding a bag full of fifty pound notes and moaning whenever you find one that is torn. It is easy to focus on the negatives, but in perspective we are still in the fifth round, we do still have some money in the bank, and a row between the FA and the BBC is really no concern of ours.

I’ve also warmed to the Burnley draw. Now the disappointment of last night has been considered properly, we are still away at a Premier League club and Burnley is actually a nice club as well. I have been there a few times which at first I considered to be a negative, but whenever I have I found their fans to be as friendly as those of Ipswich Town. It’s a good community club too, and whilst it may not be the headline match we wanted, at least it isn’t Oxford away.

I’m off for a bath now, and I’m hoping the National League don’t call me so I can actually get clean before the water goes cold.

Deadline Day Round Up

The transfer window slams shut in just a couple of hours, and at present it appears that Lincoln City will still have business to do once it does.

Rumoured Imps target Jonny Margetts has signed for Crewe after being heavily linked with a move to City. Crewe are battling relegation from the Football League, and despite being disappointed from The Imps perspective, it seems a good move for him. It’s the second deadline day in a row he’s turned the Imps down after leaving us for Scunthorpe in August.

In a further blow to City it would appear ambitious striker Theo Robinson has played his last game from the club. He hasn’t travelled to Solihull Moors tonight for ‘personal reasons’, and if chatter is to be believed he’s either headed down south to Millwall or Southend, or up North to Huddersfield.

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Muldoon scoring in pre season.

Anyone who has been critical of Theo, and feels he won’t be missed, is wide of the mark. We have him to thank for the cup run, seven goals in the competition have helped us to the fifth round. Sadly it looks like the final goal against Brighton will be the last we see of him in an Imps shirt.

City aren’t the only team to lose out in this window though. Forest Green striker Rhys Murphy has left today, and further down the league the Eastleigh fire-sale continues. Former Sunderland youngster Mikael Mandron has left for Wigan until the end of the season.

With two hours to go we might see another big name from our league move on, but if Dagenham do hang on to Oliver Hawkins, we might see them emerge as dark horses in the title race. They’ve got home games against Guiseley, Bromley and Chester prior to their Sincil Bank visit on 25th February, their only away trip is to Southport.

So far this transfer window City have signed Sean Long and Josh Ginnelly on loan, as well as youngster Joe Ward who is only due to stay for another week or so. If Theo isn’t returning then there will be a huge opening in our forward line. With Adam Marriott still being used sparingly, City look light up front for the forthcoming championship battle. That said a goal for Jack Muldoon tonight might be an indication that he is ready to step up and fill the spot left by Robinson.

Let’s bring back three points, and a full squad

City face a crucial trip to Solihull Moors tonight, and whilst it may not be as attractive as a weekend in Burnley, it does have significantly more importance.

It represents one of our games in hand, and therefore it is a massive opportunity to steal a march on our rivals. FGR have closed that gap now and we need to ensure our games in hand are used to full effect. Expect to see Josh Ginnelly mid-second half from the bench as we try and put game fatigue to one side and make our superior fitness pay.

Away from the pitch it is interesting to have a match on deadline day. There has been lots of speculation regarding our players, but with us being on the pitch until 10pm I can’t see a Jonny Margetts style ‘last minute’ move for anyone. If our players are subject to interest, expect to see them omitted from the squad.

We’ve already knocked back one approach this transfer window, rumoured to be from Doncaster for Alex Woodyard. There’s only one player I can see moving on if any, and that is Theo Robinson. Theo has been on a week to week deal ever since he signed, and again if rumour is to be believed he has been the subject of interest from the Football League. Whilst we are not bound by the constraints of the transfer window, it does slam shut for those above us at midnight. If anyone wants Theo Robinson, they’ll need to act before kick-off.

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FA Cup hero – but can he do it on a cold Tuesday in Solihull?

Whatever happens one thing is certain: we will be playing Solihull Moors this evening and we do want to press our advantage in the hunt for the title. Solihull sit 15th but they’ve won three of their last five games. They were the only National League side to get six points over Christmas (from Chester), and on Saturday they won 2-0 against Maidstone.

Up front their danger man is Omari Sterling James, a player we’ll have to watch if we’re to bring three points back from the Midlands. He netted four in two games in December, twice against Chester on Boxing Day and twice the week before in an impressive 4-4 draw with Dagenham. Less impressive for the Moors was the 2-0 home reverse against Gateshead a couple of weeks ago, a result that shows another side to their story.

They don’t like their midweek games at Solihull, perhaps a reflection of their part time status. Tuesday nights have yielded four draws so far, including dour 0-0 affairs with us and Southport. They did register a 4-0 win over Southport on a Tuesday in October, but then-leading scorer Akwasi Asante bagged a hat trick. They’ve lost twice as well in mid-week, to Torquay (0-3) and Wrexham (1-0).

Solihull have lost two key players in the transfer window, namly Asante and James Osbourne, both to Grimsby Town. That could be a factor in us bringing back all three points, although since those players left they haven’t conceded a goal.

Whether we come back with a full squad of players as the windows swings to a close is another matter entirely.

Dream draw? Not for us.

For Lincoln City, the only thing remotely related to the ‘magic of the FA Cup’ in tonight’s fifth round draw was actually being in it. Pulling out Premier League Burnley wasn’t just rewards for our herculean efforts this season.

I’m out at Louth, but as Burnley came out of the bag I could here the shouts of ‘not effing Burnley’ all the way up here in the Wolds. Yesterday I mentioned it as the nightmare draw we didn’t want, the only plus being it happened early in the draw so our hopes weren’t built up too much.

So why am I so unhappy at going to Turf Moor? Firstly, and perhaps most pertinently, the ticket allocation. Turf Moor holds just over 22,500 fans, so we can expect an allocation of around 4,000 tickets max. The one thing we didn’t want was an away draw that afforded less ticketing opportunity to fans than a home draw. To put that into perspective, Portman Road holds 30,000.

In truth despite their Premier League status, Burnley is a less prestigious draw than Ipswich away, and I was disappointed with that in the third round. The magic of that day out in the South East will be long forgotten as a ticket scrum ensues once again. As someone on Twitter has already pointed out, the cries of ‘I deserve a ticket because’ will probably have already started. As a non-season ticket holder, and a full time worker over 30 miles away, I suspect that my FA Cup journey has already ended.

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Fans gathered at Sincil Bank in anticipation of a dream draw.

We’re no strangers to Turf Moor either. Whilst Ipswich was a place we hadn’t visited in 60 years, and the fifth round somewhere we haven’t been in 130 years, Burnley is a place I last went to in December 1998. It was cold, it was a long way away and we got a bore draw with Gary Brabin in the team. There’s nothing too unusual about heading up to Lancashire for older fans, we played there throughout the eighties and nineties, often with very little luck.

I know I’ll get shot down by those who think I’m just moaning, and for someone as upbeat and pro-everything as me it is unusual. I spent the whole of today dreading the draw, because the pessimist in me knew what was coming. We don’t get Arsenal, Chelsea or Man Utd in any competitions, we get the bum draws. The last time we played any of those three competitively was 1919, 1911 and 1934 respectively. No offence to Burnley, but as a cup tie it is as truly magical as Hermione Grainger’s used sanitary products.

I’m chuffed (and jealous) for Sutton though, they got their big draw at home. It won’t bring in the gate revenue but I guarantee they’ll get the BBC slot and all the lovely dosh that comes with it. Will the telly come to Turf Moor as well? Doubtful, The FA are bound to want their favourite team and Blackburn to feature. Financially we’ll get half of a circa 16,000 gate and maybe some highlights on Match of the Day. Cheers Robbie Savage.

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Altogether now: Portman Road, is bigger than this, oh Portman Road is bigger than this.

So what are the positives? Well I suppose the Victor Meldrew in me could be wrong, we might squeeze a live game and therefore blag £250,000 to add to the growing war chest. In my mind at the moment it is doubtful, but in my mind at the moment our valiant and historic efforts of Saturday have been forgotten in a haze of disappointment.

The other plus side is that it may (may) just be winnable. Burnley fielded a weakened side against Bristol City on Saturday and they’ll almost certainly do the same against us. We proved on Saturday that eleven men playing a mixture of kids and reserves can compete no matter what level they’re from, and a win at Turf Moor wouldn’t just be historic, it would be of ‘Leicester winning the Prem’ proportions. However, Burnley have won their last six games at home, the last time anyone took anything away from there was November 26th. It might sound winnable because we’ve been there before, but in truth to get them back to Sincil Bank would be a monumental effort, and one that could derail our push for League Football.

I don’t want to sound so negative about such a wonderful achievement by our team, but away at Burnley is no reward for the efforts that they’ve put in this season. Given their (relatively) small ground and the fact that, despite playing there regularly throughout the nineties, we haven’t won in Burnley since 1988, I feel that the players have been cheated out of their well-earned big day. Burnley may play in the Premier League, but the draw is decidedly Championship.

Thank you to Burnley for the loan of Josh Ginnelly today. Please don’t recall him just because I’ve been mildly insulting. Cheers.

Caton: Ginnelly will do well at Lincoln

Former Imps player James Caton believes new loan signing Josh Ginnelly has what it takes to make a significant impact at Sincil Bank.

Ginnelly signed on loan until the end of the season from Burnley, and he chose the Imps despite interest from several other teams. It is rumoured that former Shrewsbury manager Micky Mellon was keen on taking his one-time protégé to Prenton Park.

However, Caton advised his friend to sign for Lincoln, having sampled the potential himself. He tweeted his congratulations on the move, and when I spoke to him he confirmed he advised the former Aston Villa youth to come to Lincoln.

“I was telling Josh to go to Lincoln over the other clubs. I’m sure he will do very well! What a season you are having. It’s amazing to see nearly 10k fans at the games. Brilliant.”

Caton recently opted to leave Southport after 27 games and three goals for the National League strugglers, and he was effusive in his praise for our new acquisition.

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Caton: Ginnelly has what it takes

“Josh is a talented player, that was proven when he went to Altrincham last year. He showed he could play in a physical league. He is very good at dead ball situations, can take a player on, has pace and can provide assist and goals for sure.”

It isn’t just what Ginnelly can offer City though, James believes he will be a nice fit with what Danny and Nicky are trying to achieve.

“He will do very well at Lincoln as I know the way the manager wants to play from being there all pre-season, so he should slot right in!”

Danny and Nicky like their wide men, and James Caton was unlucky himself not to end up in red and white. His immediate future will be revealed over the next few days. He was rumoured to be in talks with a League Two team before a managerial change scuppered the move, but it is unlikely a player of his talent will be without a club for long.

As for Josh Ginnelly, the signs are very encouraging indeed. He was once rated by Micky Mellon as a ‘six figure sum’ player, and he signed for Burnley for an undisclosed fee thought to be very close to that in 2015. If he can live up to the hype then he’ll add some extra depth to our options on the flank, keeping pressure on Nathan Arnold, Terry Hawkridge and fellow loan player Joe Ward.

Despite the arrival of Ward, City have still looked light out wide in recent weeks, hopefully Ginnelly can have the same impact as Harry Anderson, who was a revelation before his return to Peterborough.

Ginnelly is cup-tied in the FA Cup, but will be expected to feature against Welling in the FA Trophy.

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Ginnelly

Welcome to Josh Ginnelly

The Imps have unveiled winger Josh Ginnelly this afternoon on a loan deal until the end of the season.

Ginnelly spent his youth as part of the Aston Villa set up before joining up with Shrewsbury. He made his debut for them under current Tranmere manager Micky Mellon in 2014.

He was due to link up with them in 2015, but failed to return to pre-season training amidst rumours of a move to a bigger club. Eventually he went back to the claret and blue, this time with Burnley. After failing to make a first team appearance he linked up with Altrincham, making 20 appearances, scoring five times.

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At the beginning of this season Ginnelly signed for Walsall on loan, although he only featured in the EFL Cup once, then a 5-2 win over Grimsby in the EFL Trophy. He didn’t feature again until October. He caught the eye of the Saddlers management team, and his reward was a prolonged spell of first team action, although he was dropped for the 1-0 win at Sheffield United, and despite making an appearance from the bench he didn’t feature again.

Ginnelly is an acclaimed corner and free kick taker, and I’m led to believe he has been on Lincoln’s radar for a few weeks now. Ex-Imp Jon Witney didn’t fancy him at Walsall, and combined with the lack of opportunities it is no surprise he has looked elsewhere for his football.

It is encouraging that a player who earned the right to play regular League One football just eight or nine weeks ago had chosen to join up with the Imps for the crucial run-in. Ginnelly claims to work hard for his team mates, something that will be crucial for his success at Lincoln.

Is it big clubs devaluing the cup, or The FA?

There has been much discussion this weekend about larger clubs disrespecting the FA Cup by making significant changes to their sides ahead of ties: but it is The FA that are devaluing the competition with its poor and obtuse TV choices.

Alan Shearer was up in arms at the number of changes made by top sides for their ties. Arsenal and Southampton featured no less than 20 changes between them, and our own rivals Brighton had nine changes. Shearer claimed ‘clubs care about money, while fans care about trophies’. It’s not only the clubs that care about money.

Indeed, bigger clubs do seem to be treating the world’s premier cup competition with a mixture of contempt and complacency. Gone are the days when a tie against Arsenal ensured the world stars appeared on your humble ground, although in this day and age even their reserves are international players.

I don’t think there were many fans in Lincoln or Sutton who were lamenting the lack of first team players on show at our matches though, and whilst I can sympathise on some level with Premiership teams rotating squads, I can’t do the same with second tier sides. Aside from Knockaert I couldn’t name you many more of the Brighton first team, and Leeds have such a high turnover of players I suspect Sutton United felt the same. All we cared about was a win and historic fifth round ties.

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Meanwhile, on the box this weekend fans were ‘treated’ to Manchester United on Sunday, but it was ‘only’ Match of the Day cameras that caught The Imps fine 3-1 win over the much-changed Brighton side. Whilst it is a thrill to be featured first on such an iconic programme, Gary Lineker has since admitted that the Beeb wanted to be at Sincil Bank, but the FA blocked the move.

The FA obviously want a marketable product to sell abroad, but in doing so are they not devaluing the competition domestically? If it isn’t devaluing, it is certainly a case of turning their back on the big stories in the FA Cup in a vain attempt to get the big stars live on their channel. Man Utd may be marketable in the far east, but after our heroics against Ipswich I suspect the Brighton game would have been more of a draw for the neutral. There’s also the small matter of the TV money.

Man Utd were on TV on Sunday, by Monday morning their share of the TV money had already been spent on wages. If it had been Lincoln City on the telly, our share of the TV money would have gone some way to ensuring our long term future. The FA are meant to govern football in this country, from grass roots up, but their refusal to allow the BBC to screen Lincoln does not reflect this. I appreciate we’re now in a good position anyway, but that isn’t the point. The so-called magic of the FA Cup was ignored by the FA themselves in favour of watching a Man Utd XI easily beat Wigan.

Man Utd fan Pete Summers even tweeted me to say that there wasn’t a United fan he knew that wanted their run-of-the-mill tie to be played at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. The revenue meant nothing to them, but for £100k+ I’m sure Lincoln City would have played at midnight on Sunday. I’m sure we would have been happy to play on the moon if we got our payday.

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Match of the Day only? Never mind, eh?

The fact the BBC tried to change the match and were refused only takes a portion of the shine of a superb day for City fans. Money aside, to be first on Match of the Day twice in the space of a couple of weeks is phenomenal, a real fillip for the club and everyone connected with it.

However, whilst The FA continues to pick matches based on marketability abroad, and not on the appeal to the neutral and football fans in general at home, then bigger club won’t be the only one devaluing the competition.

As a Lincoln fan I can’t complain about the weakened sides anyway. Brighton centre forward Glenn Murray is still worth more than our starting eleven value combined, and then times by ten. Second string or not, Brighton should not have lost the game, and no amount of bleating about pitches and errors will change that.

In years to come when bloggers and statistic junkies (like me) look back over fixtures and results, there won’t be an asterix next to Saturday’s match with ‘Brighton fielded a weakened side’. History will show us winning 3-1 against a side top of the Championship. The same goes for Sutton, Leeds picked eleven players that should, by rights have walked their clash on Saturday. The record books won’t reflect what the media deem to be weakened sides, and I can guarantee you my memory won’t reflect that either.

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We’re always first on Match of the Day

The misconception is that kids, even top academy kids, should beat men from the lower leagues. There is a popular saying ‘men against boys’, and at Gander Green Lane that was certainly the case. Former Imps forward Lee Thorpe sat behind me on Saturday and he made the comment that at any level, you simply cannot pitch kids against grown men and expect them to come out on top. It is naïve, arrogant and disrespectful to the opponents. Brighton won one match to earn the right to face us, yet we’d gone through six matches to face them.

So, what offended me more about our reward for six matches of hard toil? Having a part reserve team line up and us bating them and advancing to the next stage, collecting the in bonus at the same time? Or finding out the BBC wanted to show us to the nation yet again, and the dinosaurs at The FA instead choosing to promote a banal ninety minutes from Old Trafford?

I think you know the answer to that.

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Number of changes by top flight side