We may have a couple of extra curricular activities to take care of over the coming weeks, but it was business as usual tonight in the National League.
The big result of the night came as rivals Forest Green slipped up away at Eastleigh. They originally led through Christian Doidge, but an equaliser ten minutes after from former Dagenham defender Ayo Obileye meant FGR missed a good chance to gain real ground on us.
Since losing to us in November they’ve only registered a single win, the emphatic 5-1 victory over Bromley at the weekend. Martin Allen’s Eastleigh side were always going to be a tough prospect, but the result leaves them two points behind us having played twice more.
They know their match at Sincil Bank is crucial, but they need to find some form from somewhere, quickly. They may have leapfrogged Tranmere, but only on goal difference and they’ve have played an extra game. The two meet on February 28th in a win / win game for the Imps. We’re at home to York that day.
Dover were the nights big losers. They went down 2-1 at Macclesfield and that leaves them six points behind us having played two games more. Jamie Grimes had put them ahead, and they led for over an hour before a Chris Holroyd double ensured three points stayed in Cheshire. Dover now need a win at the Bank next Friday to have any real chance of catching up the top three teams. A City win would give us a nine point and two game lead over my least favourite club.
With Dover now needing a result I imagine they’re going to come and have to try and play. They do favour a more defensive approach, happy to try and soak up pressure and hit you on the break with quick and able strikers. We know Lincoln wouldn’t play for a draw at home, but if Dover have to come out and attack us then it plays straight into our hands They’ve had some heavy thumpings this season. (4-1 Boreham Wood and Tranmere, 5-0 Chester, 4-2 Gateshead), so they are susceptible to being attacked themselves. If you don’t get Ipswich tickets for any reason, I think you will still be able to catch a festival of open football at Sincil Bank four days later.
The final result was a big surprise as Southport beat Barrow 1-0 at Holker Street. Barrow might have had a long unbeaten run, but they’ve failed to register a win since December 4th, and the games in hand they boasted have dried up as well. They’ve gone from being an outside bet for the Championship to mere play-off hopefuls, and now have nine points less than City having played the same amount of games. They’re another team facing a must win game against the Imps, in another chance to see us on the television.
In recent weeks almost all of our rivals have been on the decline, aside from Tranmere and they now must feel they are closing in on a two-horse climax to the season. We need to grab three points from our game in hand, and then four from six against Barrow and Dover. If those three results come in I think we’ll be incredibly hard to catch as we move in February.
If someone offered me that scenario in exchange for elimination from both trophies in the next seven days, I would almost certainly take it.