Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
Traditionally Lincoln is a place we tend to approach with trepidation, but in recent years we’ve done well at Sincil Bank.
We came within seven minutes of victory there last season, as Elliott Durrell’s goal looked to have earned us all three points until Alan Power’s late equaliser. A win would have got us back on track as we’d enjoyed a series of fine wins there – the best sequence of results we’ve ever mustered at the home of The Imps – until the previous season, when we’d been derailed spectacularly.
That match, in August 2013, had been a much more painful experience than the 2-0 scoreline suggested. Indeed, it marked the end of an era of optimism.
We lost Steven Wright early on to injury and edgy performances by Joslain Mayebi and Junior Ntame meant our defence wobbled terribly. After mounting a series of tilts at promotion, this grim defeat seemed to illustrate that we had hit a period of decline.
Previous to that we’d been enjoying our games away to The Imps, as we’d won four on the bounce. Brett Ormerod had given us the lead in the previous season, but the headlines belonged to Dele Adebola, who scored an incredible goal from the half way line to seal a 2-1 win.
A year earlier we’d played in front of live TV cameras at Sincil Bank and hit the top of the table with another 2-1 win. This time Chris Maxwell was the hero with a string of brilliant saves to keep Lincoln at bay after spectacular goals by Jamie Tolley and Jay Harris.
The previous time we went to Sincil Bank was the famous relegation party. Thousands travelled across country in fancy dress to commemorate our last game in the Football League,and the team were inspired to an uncharacteristically fine performance. The goals were odd too: Wes Baynes scored the first goals of his career, and ought to have walked away with the match ball, but Levi Mackin was credited his third even though he didn’t seem to touch a Baynes free kick on the way in, and Chris Llewellyn chipped in a late fourth as we won 4-2.
A year earlier we travelled east under Brian Carey with relegation looking a near certainty. We’d won two and lost thirteen of our last twenty-one matches, but a brilliant start to the match proved to be the starting point of a remarkable rescue mission. Simon Spender, who had scored the decisive own goal in a home defeat to Notts County in the previous match, opened the scoring and an own goal in our favour meant we swiftly had a two goal advantage. Lee McEvilly grabbed a second half goal to complete a 3-0 win which sparked a run of four wins in our last five games, concluding in the temporary reprieve from Conference football which a last day win over Boston represented.
Jamal Fyfield makes the 225th league appearance of his career at Sincil Bank tomorrow.