One more face in?

Listening to DC on the radio last night, he insinuated he was relatively happy with his squad at present. After acquiring Dayle Southwell, Josh Ginnelly and Billy Knott he has every right to be. However, one name won’t go away and a set of circumstances have developed that make it look more likely that we might see one more new face, or more specifically one more old face.

Dayle Southwell had a strong debut for Lincoln, and after all of the speculation in the summer it was nice to finally see him in a Lincoln City shirt, albeit the green away kit. He took his goal well and had a solid 60 minutes of action. As we know he’s here on a one month loan at present, and that may not be enough for us.

The run-in is going to be gruelling, and although four forwards looks sufficient to carry us through, if we were to lose Dayle in a month it would leave us light again. I’m told the deal for Dayle should have gone through the day before, but Gareth Ainsworth only wanted a month deal whilst we wanted longer. If Wycombe pick up any injuries between now and four weeks time I suspect he’ll be on his way back down south.

If that does happen it would leave us one short up top again, and signing a player at the beginning of March might not be an ideal situation. If only there were a centre forward who had scored goals at this level not playing regular football. Ideally he’d be based in the county, and familiar with Danny and Nicky. I suppose in an ideal world Football League rules would dictate the only team this ‘perfect’ player could feasibly sign for would be us. If only, eh Jonny Margetts?

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I hope he bought a return ticket

 

The Margetts situation has baffled us all ever since news broke of his shock deadline day move to Scunthorpe United in August. Every man and his dog could see he wouldn’t get in their side, my old man works with a Scunny fan and even he says he wouldn’t get a game. The odd outing he has managed worked against him last week when a loan move to Crewe broke down. Football League rules state you can only play for two club in a season, and Mr Margetts has played for us and Scunny. If The Iron want him to get game time, the only place he can do it is Sincil Bank.

He was a player heavily linked with a move back to City last week, and I suspect Scunthorpe were reluctant to loan him back to us having shelled out for him earlier in the season. There must be an element of embarrassment at Glumford Park over the situation, they buy a striker they don’t need and barely play him. Then they loan him out to Crewe and throw in some barbed comments about non-league sides wanting him, only for it to all fall through. Now they have a decision to make, do they let him rot away in the reserves on principle, or (if we call them) do they let him come back to a club that actually wanted him in the first place?

In an ideal world Sir Gareth of Ainsworth will let Dayle Southwell stay until the end of the season, which negates the need to even pick up the phone and speak to Scunthorpe. No disrespect to Jonny of course, but Scunthorpe should never have signed him. It almost felt like they were posturing as the ‘biggest club in Lincolnshire’ by buying him from us without any real need. Now they’ve got egg on their faces and are still around £50k light.

Decadent? Perhaps. Ill thought out? Absolutely.

Coming up in February

Each month I’ve been doing a prediction of league standings, and today I bring you my view of February. First though, let’s look at home I got on last time out.

Below is my prediction and the actual standings as of last night. I wouldn’t have included Aldershot and Dagenham ‘s games yesterday in my predictions. One thing is constant: Lincoln City are still top of the league.

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Despite our slip at Barrow, they’re the obvious losers in the January chase, I suspected they’d be seven points behind us instead of a mammoth twelve. The big ‘winners’ are Dagenham and Redbridge, and without a cup competition to focus on they’re increasingly looking like dangerous challengers in the title race. Who is coming up for the sides at the top though, and what does it mean for City?

Dagenham And Redbridge

Southport (A), Guisely (H), Bromley (H), Maidstone (H)

They’ve been on good form, and they still have to come to Sincil Bank which will doubtless give them hope of catching us in the title race. I know we have a game in hand, and therefore they need to keep the pressure on by winning games of football. Will they manage it?

Recently they grabbed a 4-0 win at North Ferriby, which was followed by a super 2-0 victory over Tranmere before yesterday’s last gasp win at home to Chester. They travel to Southport on Saturday 11th where they’ll bring home three points, before doing the same against Guiseley on 18th. By that point they’re going to be within touching distance of us, but I can see the inconsistency slipping in and there is scope for a draw at home to  Bromley on Tuesday 21st. Our clash with them on the 25th will be moved until later in the season, so I suspect they’ll round up February with ten points from twelve by beating Maidstone at home. The fixture list looks very kind to the Daggers this month, but they’d best not get too comfy as March is set to be a shocker.

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Oliver Hawkins – Crucial to Dagenham

 

Forest Green Rovers

Boreham Wood (H), Gateshead (A), Woking (H), Tranmere (A)

The significant financial losses announced by Forest Green didn’t go unnoticed by me this week, but I’ve tried to stop having stabs at out opponents and concentrate on the good things we are doing instead. Still, £2.5m down and still trailing the Mighty Imps? Must be enough to make Mr Vince choke on his falafel and tofu roast.

FGR are now out of all cup competitions as well, and they too have a big visit to Sincil Bank to negotiate if they’re to have any chance of stopping City. That comes in March though, first they have to get through a tricky February.

They were real losers in the January window with several key players moving on, and I suspect the defeat at Macclesfield yesterday might be a precursor to another dip in form. Since we beat them (somewhat fortuitously) in November they’ve been stumbling, and I suspect our meeting in March will be more a case of them rescuing some pride than running us all the way for the title.

They have a tough match on Saturday against Boreham Wood, a team once notoriously difficult to play at home, and that is followed by a trip to Gateshead the week after. The Wood have been in shocking form since early November, winning just three times in thirteen matches, but form is temporary.  Neither match is going to be straightforward and I’m going to predict that FGR take four points from six. The betting man in me would have them beating Boreham Wood and drawing at Gateshead.

They then face Woking at home which should yield three points, before a massive trip to Tranmere on Tuesday 28th. By then I think Tranmere will have a bit of momentum behind them, and I expect them to put a nail in the FGR title dream by grabbing all three points.

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I wonder if Andy Mangan will try his diving tricks again this month?

 

Tranmere

Sutton (H), Bromley (H), Eastleigh (A), Boreham Wood (H), Forest Green (H)

Tranmere have five games coming up in February, starting with a home tie against FA Cup heroes Sutton United. We know Sutton are no mugs from past experience, but you have to wonder if the cup games will eventually affect their league form, especially with a far smaller squad than ours. I’ll have the ‘Super White Army’ down to win that. The week after Bromley, on the fringes of the play-off race visit Prenton Park, and I can see that game being a draw. Bromley have won five of their last eight, including a 2-1 victory at Macclesfield that proves, on their day, they are a match for anyone.

Tranmere then have three games, away at Eastleigh before finishing with winnable home ties with Boreham Wood and FGR. I’ve already said I think they’ll snatch a win against Forest Green, and I think the faltering Boreham Wood will struggle as well. I can see another draw away at Eastleigh, they’ve spent big and their position of 14th is a reflection on the amount of managerial changes they’ve made, not the quality available to them. It’s interesting that aside from their clash with FGR, non of the top four sides are due to play each other this month. That leaves Tranmere finishing with twelve points from a possible fifteen, enough to keep them in the hunt.

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Can this man keep up his goal-a-game ratio in National League competition?

 

Lincoln City

Woking (H), North Ferriby (A), York (H)

Ah, the Mighty Imps. One might be forgiven for losing sight of the league chase, but cup runs aside this is the real bread and butter, It feels as if the league has been on the back burner a bit recently, we played four cup games and four league games in January. At present it looks like being three league and two cup in February too. Our three league games are all winnable, Woking at home should be a banker as should North Ferriby away. The one I would be concerned about is York City at home on February 28th. By then there is the potential that we could be knocked off the top of the league by virtue of playing less games. Gary Mills has toughened York up and got them playing much more direct, Jon Parkin and Vadaine Oliver in particular will provide a ‘Barrow’ style threat. If York have also sorted that abysmal defence I think we’ll draw that game, leaving us with seven from nine.

We are due to play Dagenham at home on February 25th, but I suspect we’ll see that game moved for the FA Trophy. We already have six games scheduled for March and April, with Sutton to rearrange as well. The games are certainly going to come thick and fast, and I suspect that we will be in a situation whereby we are looking up at someone on the summit, with games in hand that need winning.

I’m not being disrespectful to Dover, Barrow and Aldershot by not including them, but this is really looking at the chase for the title, not the play off spots. My final prediction looks like this:

P W D L PTS
Lincoln City 32 21 5 6 68
Dagenham 34 21 5 8 68
Tranmere 34 20 7 7 67
Forest Green 34 18 10 6 64

I grossly over estimated the form of the other three sides chasing the title last moth, and hopefully I’ve done the same again. It looks set to be one of the closest run-ins in recent years, although all three of our challengers have been inconsistent over the past few weeks.

The two big clashes for City will be Forest Green and Dagenham, in particular that Dagenham clash set to be rearranged for next month. March could pose a significant issue for the Daggers though, as not only will they have to try and fit a match against us in, but they also face play-off chasing Aldershot, brutal Barrow and fellow title hopefuls FGR. There is still a lot of football to be played in our quest for a return to the Football League.

At this stage I still wouldn’t bet against Lincoln City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imps march on in FA Trophy

A much changed Imps side kept their Wembley dream alive on two fronts by comfortably beating National League South side Welling this afternoon by three goals to one.

The game was a chance for some of the fringe players to prove what they could do, and in truth the game wasn’t much of a contest. The Imps new-look eleven looked hungry and sharp as they competently dismantled a weary looking home side.

For the second game in a row the travelling fans outnumbered the home support, but ahead of kick off it looked like a difficult contest. City hadn’t won at Welling since 1987, and the pitch had a Sunday League feel to it, which could hinder the slick passing that City have made their trademark.

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Tough job as a groundsman. photo Matt Hardwicke

City fans need not have worried. It took debutant Dayle Southwell just eight minutes to seize on an error in the Welling defence and register his first goal for the club. Southwell, who joined on loan yesterday from Wycombe, looked hungry and sharp as he slotted past the keeper. It’s fair to say Imps fans wanted him here in the summer, and immediately after his goal I suspect thoughts were turning to how to keep him longer.

Lincoln always looked in control, Josh Ginnelly in particular looking very useful. Although a couple of the newer faces and fringe players were on display, but they’ll all be wanting to knock on the door of the first team and the Burnley loanee looked like he has a lot to offer.

Straight after half time City killed the game off. It was Joe Ward, another one month loan player, who scored a quick fire double. He looked quick and dangerous all match long, echoing the potential he showed in the last round at Gateshead. Even a consolation for Welling couldn’t take the shine off a comprehensive Imps win, nor could bookings for Elliot Whitehouse and Jack Muldoon for diving, both incidents that looked like penalties for City.

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Spring is just around the corner. Photo Matt Hardwicke

Danny Cowley was enthusiastic about his teams prospects heading into the final three months of the season.

“Yeah, really pleased. Delighted with the level of performance. We created more chances than we have all season. Really pleased with our depth and our mentality.”

He was happy with the contribution from the new faces as well, Dayle Southwell hadn’t played much prior to today, but he opened the scoring well.

“I thought Dayle did well throughout. The plan was always to play him to 60, and that was 60 good minutes. He couldn’t have started better.”

He was also full of praise for his wide players, Joe Ward and Josh Ginnelly.

“I thought they were excellent. Joe got his two goals and Josh was a real threat, his movement and speed was frightening. He’s had a loan spell at Walsall and he’s a bit short of game time so we’ll build his fitness.”

With reference to Whitehouse’s booking, Danny was typically coy.

“There was contact, I don’t think it was a penalty, but when there’s contact I don’t think it’s a dive.”

Elsewhere in the competition Macclesfield, Barrow and York all progressed. All three are opponents that City would want to avoid. Tranmere, Sutton and Braintree have replays to negotiate with National League South Brackley the only representatives from outside the ‘top flight’. For me a draw against Braintree / Dulwich Hamlet or Brackley would be preferable, but as we know cup draws are not exactly going in our favour this season!

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City push forward. Photo Matt Hardwicke

Elsewhere, in the National League Dagenham managed to squeeze victory from the jaws of defeat, turning around a 2-1 deficit inside the last ten minutes to register a 3-2 win at Chester. They move up to second, ahead of Forest Green to sit three points behind City having played a game more.

Lincoln now have a welcomed break, next up are Woking at Sincil Bank next Saturday. Josh Ginnelly and Dayle Southwell will both be knocking on the door for a start, as will Billy Knott who will be available next Saturday. With 17 games to go the competition for places is not only welcome, but also incredibly promising. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Southwell and Rhead leading the line next weekend, and after his performance today I imagine Josh Ginnelly might be around the first eleven as well.

A debut to remember

City’s debutant striker Dayle Southwell has taken just eight minutes to open his Lincoln City account. Imps fans will look forward to seeing him in further action for us, but 28 years ago to the day another debutant also had a goal scoring first outing.

On February 4th 1989 City were due to play Cambridge United in league action. The U’s were 10th, City 11th and both teams still harboured hopes of a play off spot. City had a plethora of forward players to choose from, GMVC heroes McGinley and Phil Brown were still around the side, as was record signing Paul Smith. Gordon Hobson was still on the Imps books too, as well as Mark Sertori. A new face seemed unlikely, and even if one was imminent the fans would be none the wiser.

As The Imps came out there was an unfamiliar face in the City line up. At 6’5 Malcolm Dunkley wasn’t inconspicuous, and as a youngster I remember my Dad asking me ‘who the flip is that?’ Even as a 10 year old I was already becoming more of an authority on the Imps as my old man!! This was the days before the internet, so I confess I didn’t know who he was either. If only we’d had Wikipedia in 1989!

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Malcolm Dunkley had been signed from Finnish side Rovaniemen Palloseura at the end of the Scandavian country’s domestic season, and he went straight into the side with Bob Cumming dropped. He looked unorthodox, perhaps one might describe him as clumsy. Those that did (my Dad)  were soon eating their words: Dunkley had a stormer.

He opened the scoring with a superb twenty yard strike that made every one of the 3239 fans sit up and take note. Future Imps keeper John Vaughn was left grasping thin air (something we found he was good at in later life) and the ball nestled in the net right in front of me in the Railway End. I’ll never forget the look of bewilderment on Vaughn’s face.

Not long after Dunkley added a second via a header, giving the Imps an unassailable two goal lead. Gordon Hobson seized on a weak back pass to round the hapless keeper for a third, and gave City a comprehensive win.

The win meant City swapped places with Cambridge, and Dunkley was back on the score sheet again a week later as we got beat 3-2 at Hereford. Gordon Hobson added one that day too, and the pair looked to be forging a meaningful partnership up top.

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John Vaughn looks astonished as City go 1-0 up.

 

Dunkley only scored once more for The Imps in a 2-1 defeat at Darlington. His early promise faded as he began to look out of place in an ambitious Imps side. Paul Smith returned from injury, Hobson was almost always the first name on the team sheet, and both Brown and McGinley knocked Big Malcolm down the pecking order.

He played his last game for City as we lost at Grimsby Town on March 27th. He’d been an Imps player for two months, but hadn’t managed to reach the heights of his first 90 minutes. He returned to Finland where he averaged a goal every five games.

Unfortunately Malcolm Dunkley passed away at the age of 44 from a heart attack, but he’ll always be fondly remembered for that awesome debut when he appeared from nowhere to score twice for City.

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Dunkley in action as we draw 1-1 with Scarborough

Welling – 1987/88

As many Imps are travelling down to Welling, I am sat in my chair feeling like less of a fan for not travelling. One thing a cup run will do for you id make you question how deserving you might be of those few precious tickets, and despite my intentions things just didn’t come together for me to go today.

Welling have been a bogey team for us in recent years, In six meetings since the turn of the century we’ve failed to beat them at all, and yet prior to 2000 we had won three in three. A less-than convincing 1-0 FA Cup win in 1999 courtesy of a Paul Smith goal was the last time we got the better of them. Before that you have to go back to March 2nd, 1988.

Welling were our visitors in league competition that evening, and City needed a win to finally claw back the advantage runaway leaders Barnet had hung on to all season. We were unbeaten in eleven at the time, our last defeat had been November 28th 1987, 4-1 away at Sutton United. On that day we trailed Barnet by four points, and they had a game in hand. However, our Christmas form had been scintillating, matched only by that of the lot from Underhill. Just a day before we met Welling, they slipped up. They drew 0-0 at Altrincham, and that came on the back of defeat at Enfield. If City could beat Welling that night, we’d go joint top.

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Clive Evans opens the scoring for City

 

Typically it was a below average crowd for a Wednesday night in March. 3218 turned out to watch us attempt to finally share the top spot for the first time since we’d been relegated. Goal difference meant we wouldn’t be able to top the league unless we won by a significant margin (12-0 to be exact), but to be level on points and games would be moral boosting.

Keeper Nigel Batch was out injured, so at the time we had Bob Wilson’s son Richard playing in goal for us. John McGinley was suspended as well, he’d been dismissed in the February 13th FA Trophy clash with Maidstone. Rather unusually it was for head butting team mate Paul Smith (not the same one who scored ten years later I might add). It may have been Valentines Day but often the aggression needed in the late 1980’s non-league scene was directed at everyone and anyone. There was no romance on those boggy pitches in front of hostile natives.

Welling came to us just a single point outside the relegation spot, and they were going to be up for a fight just as much as anyone. Despite the long unbeaten run The Imps were going to be asked questions by their part time rivals.

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Carlo strokes the ball home for City’s second

 

The match was a typical battle, full of not-so wholesome tackles and good old fashioned brute force. Without McGinley it was up to Mark ‘Carlo’ Sertori and Phil Brown to lead to line. The opener came from full back Clive Evans. He’d been ever present since arriving from Stockport County, and his header in front of the Railway End gave the Imps the push they needed. Evans is often missed out when discussing that great 1987/88 side, but he was the epitome of consistency, and he weighed in with a few goals.

It was cult hero Mark Sertori that added a second to put the game beyond doubt. He was another who popped up with crucial goals, and he’s gone on to have a great career as a masseur even involved with the England set up. That night was a long way away from the opulent surroundings he’s worked in since, but for Imps fans his contribution wasas crucial as anything he’d done before. It meant City ran out 2-1 winners. We were joint top for the first time all season.

It was another seven games before Lincoln lost again, 2-0 away at Macclesfield. Draw against Fisher, Kidderminster and Enfield offered minor set backs, but we stayed in contention at the top of the table.

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A Paul Smith volley almost gives City the lead.

 

Just a couple of days after the Welling match, City were in FA Trophy action at Enfield. This was another naughty game which resulted in a 1-0 defeat and significant trouble amongst both sets of fans. If they’d had the benefit of mobile phones they would have been jubilant though, Barnet were slipping to defeat against Maidstone, which handed City a game in hand in the league. By the time we lost in our first trip to Moss Rose, it was two games in hand.

Evans and Sertori both had roles to play in the frantic final few days of the season. It was Evans who bagged the winning goal on Wednesday 30th April against Stafford Rangers, a goal that put us two points clear at the top for the first time all season. Just a few days later Sertori opened the scoring against Wycombe Wanderers.

Of course we all know that come May 2nd 1988 it was City who were fighting their way to the Conference title, whilst over at Underhill it was Welling who gave Barnet their first win in five to ensure they pressed us all the way. Both Welling and Wycombe finish just above the relegation spots that season too.

Billy Knott: A Bantam’s view

Bradford City fan Jake Verity give the Stacey West his views on our new midfielder, Billy Knott, who should set pulses racing at Sincil Bank.

When Billy Knott signed for Bradford City he was a relatively unknown figure. Raw, but extremely talented. The midfielder posed clear quality, which he made glaringly obvious in his early displays for the club.

He offers many fantastic and desirable qualities; a tireless work rate; the ability to spot a defence splitting pass and pick his man from an array of positions; his trickery and bravery to take his man on will excite the fans; his confidence to shoot from distance is refreshing to see. It felt like a steal getting the former England youth player on a free transfer.

Knott’s career began at West Ham, his boyhood club. A brief couple of years then saw him make the move across London to Chelsea’s academy, arguably a dream move for any youngster and after three years in the academy at Chelsea, he made the decision to move up north to Sunderland.

Knott’s time at Sunderland saw him make one appearance for the club under Paulo Di Canio, but he began to make a name for himself on a number of loan trips. His first ever loan our from Sunderland which was to AFC Wimbledon saw the midfielder gain confidence in League Two, a much more physically demanding league than the academy football he’d experienced but nonetheless, he flourished at the Dons. Knott picked up the clubs young player of the season award, three goals and twenty appearances under his belt in what was a mutually beneficial experience for both club and player.

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Knott had a successful time at Woking

 

The following season, Knott went out on loan on to Woking of the National League, racking up an impressive eight goals in twenty games. The talented youngster proved he could score goals from midfield and that he needed to be playing more regular professional football.

Knott than found his way back into the Football League, moving to League Two Wycombe and then to League One Port Vale on two seperate loan spells, during his time at both clubs, Knott impressed and eventually ended up the following season making a permanent move to Bradford City.

Knott’s time at Bradford was full of highs and lows, the high’s of Chelsea in the FA Cup and reaching the Quarter Finals’s were amongst some of his best memories with the Bantams but if there is any game Knott will be remembered for it’s Bradford City va Leeds United in the EFL Cup. Ask any Bradford fan about THAT goal. Ask them. It’s the 83rd minute. Leeds United; the Bantams fiercest rivals had gone a goal up against the run of play through a Matt Smith header and the travelling contingent from Leeds went wild. The ball goes straight at the Leeds defence from kick off, Bradford almost immediately win a corner. The corner comes out on the edge of the box, and as the ball seems to take an age to drop to the midfielder, Knott cushions it beautifully and volleys it straight into the top corner. The Bantams then went on to win that game with a goal a few minutes later and Knott became ingrained in Bradford’s history simply for that moment.

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Knott’s passion and desire is unquestionable, his work ethic is unbelievable. Every single game that the Bantams went a goal behind, he was the first to take responsibility, grab a goal and try drive an attack forward. You could see he was hurting when he wasn’t winning. In modern football, it’s very rare you find them like Knott.

Off the field, its common knowledge at Valley Parade that the 24 year old had time in abundance for fans. Even when he struggled to get in the team through a period of patchy form, he’d be the first to give out an autograph, or to get in a photo. There’s a lovely video on twitter where he has a kickabout with a boy before the game outside the stadium.

Bradford were due to play Gillingham this weekend which would have meant Knott’s return to Valley Parade and rather than just like the tweet; or as many could do; ignore it, Knott replied saying he had a lot of time for the boy who he played football with and was looking forward to coming back to see him again.

The fact is he won’t be ‘coming back’, he’ll be starting a new chapter in his career away at Park View Road, and his time at Sincil Bank is going to be a very exciting one. Knott is a fantastic signing for the Imps and his previous experience in a number of high profile games will mean that he will be calm, collected and driven in the push for promotion from the National League.

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Signing for Gillingham

 

Knott’s time at Gillingham this season was enjoyable under Justin Edinburgh, the man who Knott has known for a long time but as with any club, a Football moves on, managers come and go and Edinburgh’s departure from Kent has meant Knott has opted for a new challenge. There is no doubt whatsoever that the midfielder can add goals from midfield and can help to chip in following Theo Robinson’s departure from Sincil Bank. Sometimes Knott is rash, his decision making is questionable and he’ll do something you won’t expect.

Billy Knott though, is a diamond in the rough and make no mistake, will be an immense figure in the coming months.

Out comes the scarf, but is there a hitch at Crewe?

Another crucial piece of the promotion jigsaw is set to fall into place later today, with an as-yet unnamed striker being added to the ranks on a short-term loan deal.

The arrival of Billy Knott yesterday took many by surprise, Knott has some proper football pedigree and didn’t seem like the sort of player we could attract. His name hadn’t been mentioned on social media either, meaning he came as a pleasant surprise, even to those who believe they’re ‘in the know’.

However, those who do have contacts have been mentioning the name we’re heavily linked with today for some time, and as long as there are no last-minute hitches I suspect there will be a few happy Imps fans come 5pm.

In completely unrelated striker news, there could be trouble for Jonny Margetts at Crewe. It is my understanding that a player can be registered for three clubs in a season, but can only play competitive matches for two. If that is the case, I can’t see how Jonny Margetts can represent Crewe in competitive matches, if my interpretation of the rule is correct.

The only team he can feature for is Lincoln City, and after we missed out on him a couple of days ago, I can’t see that happening, certainly not given the much-anticipated announcement later.

Changes due for Welling Clash

Danny Cowley admitted this afternoon that his side for Saturday was going to feature some changes of personnel. With such a punishing schedule still ahead of us, key players have some time off with their partners and that spells good news for some of the fringe players.

Such is the depth of the squad at the moment that we can probably afford to make up to eight changes from the side that beat Solihull on Tuesday. It will be an exciting match from Lincoln’s perspective, a couple of new faces welcoming in Part Two of our big season: the run in.

Here’s my starting eleven for the match on Saturday.

GK – Paul Farman

I can’t see Paul being rested, he does the least amount of running of the first team squad and is really the only viable option we have. That isn’t derogatory, but when it comes to squad rotation due to fatigue, the keeper doesn’t really qualify. Danny is not rotating for the sake of it, it is a planned science and therefore, having our first choice keeper in the team is almost a certainty.

RB – Sean Long

It sounds like his move has the potential to be made permanent, so he’ll be looking to impress in an inevitable appearance at full back. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet, he looked a little uncomfortable at left back after coming in at last minute at Barrow. I think there’s much more to come from Sean, and he’ll certainly feature against Welling.

LB – Sam Habergham

I suspect Sam will play, he missed a game through injury and was fortunate to feature against Brighton. In an ideal world Danny would rest him, but who else would he play here? Sean Long could play, but that would put Brad in at right back. They’re not going to bring a youth player in I don’t think; the game is too important to them at this stage of the competition. to risk blooding a youngster.

CB – Callum Howe

He would play in 95% of other National League defence, and as a so-called reserve I don’t think we have much better. I’m past lauding him as the captain of Southport, he’s come back and showed he can do it here whenever called upon. Whilst Sean Raggett was out, Callum look every inch as assured and composed as both his peers, and he’ll slot into the defence as if he never went away. I was impressed to see him come second in the Jimmy Bullard challenge last week, I know it was a bit of fun but it show’s he has a bit about him.

CB- Sean Raggett

I might be wide of the mark here, but I wonder if Sean hasn’t got sany time off like the others. His spell suspended may have given him a chance to recuperate, so he probably hasn’t had to have to same time off his team mates have. There’s a strong chance Jamie might play, but given that DC and NC would like to get to Wembley, I think Sean will start the game.

CM – Alan Power

With Billy Knott unavailable until February 11th (I found this out later by the way, part time fans eh?) I suspect it will be Alan Power that carries the mantle in midfield. I’m afraid to say I Alan will soon find himself as part of the ‘second string’ again, especially once Knott is available.

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Sean Long and Callum Howe at Gateshead (photo Graham Burrell, as is the other one further down)

 

CM – Elliott Whitehouse

Elliott has had a handful of strong outings in a City shirt, and he’ll be hoping to add to his goal against Gateshead. He’s always done well when he has come into the squad, and I see him occupying the ‘Alan Power’ role. I wonder if we might see Elliott used further forward at some point, his England C strike last year came from the centre forward position. He’s always likely to grab a goal and again would grace a good portion of other National League Team’s first team squads.

RW – Joe Ward

We’ve not seen an awful lot of the youngster from Brighton, although he did have a good outing on his debut against Gateshead. I can see both Arnold and Hawkridge being rested, and DC hasn’t brought players in to sit on the bench, so Ward should feature. I liked him and Long linking up against Gateshead and if they’ve worked on that promising combination it could be a viable route to goal.

LW – Josh Ginnelly

Almost certain to start, Josh is another player who really shouldn’t be here. He was highly rated at Shrewsbury, and it’s no mean feat to secure a contract with a top flight club. He’s going to be quick and direct, and I imagine he’ll thrill fans taking a player on now and again. I have high hopes for Ginnelly and Billy Knott, I think they’re both excellent signings.

CF – Jack Muldoon

Absolutely nailed on to start the game. If he doesn’t I won’t just be shocked, I’ll be speechless. He scored a good goal on Tuesday and he’ll want another chance to impress in the first team, and show Danny that an extra striker isn’t as pressing as we all think 9although I suspect we’ll get one anyway). I like Jack and to see him being let off the leash is great.

CF – Adam Marriott

Marriott is such a skilful and tricky player, at the moment I don’t think his goal ratio reflects his effort. He will score more goals when he’s played for more minutes, and I think he’ll thrive if the ball is on the floor a bit more. Ward and Ginnelly are both pacey, and Danny once said to start with Marriott you needed speedy players on the flanks. I think he’s a constant threat, he offers something different to both Rheady and the departed Theo Robinson, and his fledgling partnership with Muldoon showed early signs of promise in the last round.

This is working on the assumption that we do not sign anyone ahead of Saturday’s match. Even if we do I suspect any new face would start from the bench, especially if they haven’t playedfirst team football for a few months.

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Joe Ward looked dangerous in flashes at Gateshead

 

I can’t begin to try and argue that we are playing a weak side, due to the demands on our squad we’re much changed, but it isn’t a team of youngsters and it has experience throughout. The midfield looks particularly exciting for me, and after the Welling match I’m really excited for Billy Knott. He will be much like Michael O’Connor a few years ago. He’s just that type of player, and O’Connor was incredibly popular for his superb displays: in fact he almost lit up that dour season Peter Jackson was manager. If Knott has a similar impact but in a successful Lincoln side, it spells trouble for the rest of the league.

As for Elliott Whitehouse, he’s now growing into the player Danny and Nicky want him to be. He’s been drip fed into the first team, given time to adapt and learn and now I think he’s almost at boiling point. If he can get forward then he always poses a goal threat.

I think we’ll have a bit too much for Welling, and although more games in the schedule may not sound that attractive, it is a viable route to Wembley, and a great day out in London. Those players who play at Welling know that if City progress to the final it will be them and not Arnold, Woodyard and Waterfall walking out onto the hallowed turf. It would be Lincoln’s first ever appearance at The FA’s showpiece arena, and our so-called reserve team have a chance to write their names into our history as more than squad players in the Championship winning side.

Tied up in Knotts

The Imps have completed the loan signing of 24 year old midfielder Billy Knott from Gillingham, surprising those who thought a forward was on his way.

As we awaited the news of the new striker, the arrival of a midfielder seemed something of a surprise. However, for the first time since Sean Raggett, the club managed to keep social media at bay!

Knott, who represented England at U16, U17 and U18 level has some real football league pedigree. He played 64 games for Bradford in two seasons, and before that he was at Sunderland. He made one appearance for The Mackems but spent time on loan at Port Vale and Wycombe amongst others.

Knott is a left footed midfelder, and is described as a ‘high intensity’ player which will fit nicely with our current philosophy.

Knott lives in Canvey Island which is close to Danny and Nicky’s home and therefore they’ll know him well. He does seem to be a player a ‘class above’ this division, and one wonders if perhaps he has been brought in on loan with one eye on next season?

New face due today

Social media is buzzing this morning with news of a new signing for Lincoln City, and although names haven’t been available, it seems fair to assume that the player in question is going to be a centre forward.

The departure of Theo has left us a little light up top, and despite Jack Muldoon’s goal on Tuesday night I think it’s clear that we do need to bring in some reinforcements up front. Whilst the FA Cup maybe be just one more game, there’s a strong chance of progress in the FA Trophy and even big Rheady can’t play every game.

So, if we assume it is a forward coming in, then it might be safe to assume that it is someone DC already knows of. He states he only brings in players after conducting ‘due diligence’, and therefore whoever is driving up to the Bank this morning will already be on our radar. There is a good chance he will have been on fan’s radar too.

One name that keeps getting bandied about is Ricky Miller, I’ll be honest I suspect there’s more chance of platting fog than signing the controversial Dover striker. They reportedly rebuffed a big bid from Bristol Rovers a couple of days ago, the Gas were looking to replace Matt Taylor who moved across the City. Jim Parmenter obviously thinks it is more important to push for the play-offs than to cash in on his star asset. It’s likely he’ll head to Peterborough in the summer, but it’s unlikely he’s currently in his car coming up the A1.

Another name in the frame is fellow former Boston striker, Dayle Southwell. He has been out injured for four months and only returned to training in the last couple of weeks. After joining Wycombe he went nine games without a goal before netting for the Chairboys in their 1-0 win over Stevenage in September. Since then they’ve pressed on with a play-off challenge, and Southwell may need to get games under his belt elsewhere.

Any move for Southwell would only be a loan deal, it is highly unlikely Gareth Ainsworth would let the striker leave so soon after signing. It’s a good shout on social media though, Southwell is well known to Danny Cowley and was reportedly close to signing in the summer. He’s a local lad too, hailing from Grimsby, and he’ll be known to a few of our players. Given this he would seem like a strong addition to the squad, if Wycombe are willing to let him go.

Any speculation outside of these two is purely that: speculation. Rumoured targets Nicke Kabamba and Simeon Akinola both moved on in January without surfacing in Lincoln, and on Tuesday night Jonny Margetts did the same thing. Danny was linked with Louis Theophanous in January, but there’s a suspicion this was more mindless speculation than solid rumour.

Either way it is unusual for social media not to have a sniff of who it might be, and my two pennies worth is no more than anyone else already does or doesn’t know. Could it be Dayle Southwell? He’d certainly be a popular shout after his goal scoring exploits at Boston.

Whoever it is, you can be assured that DC and NC will have studied him meticulously, his fitness, his work rate, his blood group and probably his GCSE results as well. No stone left unturned as we march on towards the Football League.