Sitting three points clear at the summit of League Two, Lincoln look good value to go up this year and play at English footballs third tier for the first time this century. With brothers Danny and Nicky Cowley at the helm, the Imps have enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success over recent years, and as a result the brothers are one of the hottest managerial duos in the country.
Style of play Lincoln play a fast high tempo style of football, with emphasise on fitness, effort and running. They are also not afraid to mix it up and go long to big strikers John Akinde and Matt Rhead to win flick-ons and work off second balls. The wingers are imperative members of the side, and Bruno Andrade, Shane McCartan and Harry Anderson have all thrived after being given the freedom to express themselves down the flanks. The Cowley’s have flicked between a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 with each system allowing the team to attack in numbers but also are never left over exposed at the back.
Key players: Striker John Akinde is an experienced goalscorer at this level and has notched over 20 league goals in two of the last three seasons. The big striker has 13 goals so far this season and is a huge part of the way the Imps play. Being a sharp finisher and a big physical presence, Akinde is the perfect League Two striker.
22 year old winger Harry Anderson is enjoying the best campaign of his career so far, missing only three league games this season. With seven goals and six assists the pacy winger has bossed the league this season, and received attention from teams higher up the pyramid with Norwich reportedly tracking his progress.
Signing experienced defender Jason Shackell in the summer was a big coup for Lincoln, and the defender has shown his class since dropping down to the fourth tier for the first time in his career. The centre half has been a revelation in Lincolnshire at both ends of the pitch, being a huge part of the third best defence in the league as well as chipping in with five goals at the other end.
Performance this season: Lincoln have had an exceptional season so far, only losing four league games up to the start of March and are only nine points off of their final points total from last season, despite having played 12 less games. Picking up huge wins over title challengers Bury (2-1) and MK Dons (2-1) as well as impressive results over Port Vale (4-0) Exeter (3-0) and Swindon (4-1). In many respects Lincoln have sacrificed the cup competitions to focus all their attention on the league campaign. Crashing out of the EFL Trophy in the group stages and the EFL Cup in the second round, however they did reach the third round of the FA Cup, narrowly losing 2-1 to Everton.
Form last 5: DDDWD Lincoln have drew four of their last five games picking up seven points in the process. 1-1 draws with rock bottom Notts County and lower mid table side Northampton were followed by a 2-2 draw with play off chasing Stevenage . They then beat Morecambe away and drew with Exeter to end the month of February undefeated but haing given up considerable ground to second place Bury.
Run in: The Imps have a fairly tough run in facing Mk Dons, Carlisle, Tranmere and Colchester all of which are currently in or around the play offs, mixed in with potentially winnable games against the likes of Cheltenham and Newport. Fans will be hoping Lincoln will be in a strong position come April and will not be desperately looking to pick up points at the back end of the season to secure promotion.
Prediction: Under the Cowley brothers Lincoln are a dangerous team with a winning mentality. Despite them enduring somewhat of a poor run of form as of late, Lincoln should be aiming for at the very least automatic promotion, and will have one eye on claiming the league title.