Following a two-week break, Lincoln return to National League duty at Boreham Wood tomorrow night amid an ever-changing landscape as the Imps attempt to put their painful Trophy disappointment behind them, and re-invigorate their title ambitions and cement their place at the summit in their 50th game of the campaign.
But how things have changed since Braintree were thumped 4-0 on March 7 – City’s cup participation has finally ended after 15 games in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, and they now only lead the table on goal difference from Forest Green, who have re-ignited their title charge with four wins from five games.
After having so much success and prolonged interest in the knockout competitions this season, the fact City no longer have any involvement in either the FA Cup or FA Trophy feels rather strange, but at least now all energies can be focused back upon the league campaign, which was the club’s number one goal when the season kicked off back in August.
City, though, not only have to pick themselves up off the floor after missing out on a first-ever trip to Wembley, they also have injury concerns to deal with as signs are emerging that their mammoth season is beginning to take its toll.
Sam Habergham missed the Trophy semi-final second leg, with an abductor injury, while Bradley Wood is a doubt after coming off early against the Minstermen, and those two join the already-injured Sean Long on the sidelines.
There also seemed a few ‘weary’ performances from certain Imps on Saturday, most notably Nathan Arnold, but with games coming thick and fast between now and the final match on April 29, there is barely any time to rest exhausted bodies, but at least boss Danny Cowley will be able to utilise his big squad to good effect.
Riccardo Calder proved an able deputy for Habergham on Saturday and should start again in the left-back berth, although the right-back position may be more problematic should Wood not be fit to play – Alex Woodyard slotted in there at the weekend and that may be an option again, with Billy Knott possibly coming into central midfield alongside Alan Power. Cowley could also opt to rest Arnold ahead of a bigger test on Satrurday, with Josh Ginnelly or Joe Ward poised to deputise.
Jonny Margetts will be pushing for a recall, but Cowley is likely to go with Matt Rhead alongside Lee Angol for the first time in a league game, although lack of goals could become something of a worry. City may have stuck four past Braintree, but in seven other recent games against teams of their one calibre, they have scored just six times, with Rhead notching just two in his last 18 appearances, while Margetts has yet to find the net since rejoining the club.
City recently won 2-0 at Boreham Wood in the Trophy and they have lost just once in five matches since that clash, although Luke Garrad’s men have only registered one victory in their last 10 National League outings. They will, though, present a tough obstacle for City to overcome – get less than three points from their trip to Hertfordshire and the Imps could find themselves off top spot should closest rivals Forest Green overcome Solihull Moors.
And with Rovers heading to Sincil Bank for a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday, it promises to be another huge week for Lincoln City in a season that is proving to be one of the most dramatic in the history of the club.
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) March 20, 2017