Danny and Nicky have been focused on it since 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon. I imagine as Manish was chatting to them on MOTD late on Saturday night, they were already running through team selections in their head. Tonight, as eager Imps everywhere sit down to assess our FA Cup Quarter Final opponents, DC will be locked away at Sincil Bank watching Dover and North Ferriby from Saturday. After all any Quarter Final match won’t be played until after North Ferriby, Boreham Wood, York City, Aldershot and Braintree. That is a lot of video footage to consider before we turn our attention to cup progress.
For the average fan in the stands I suspect we afforded ourselves a bit of time to bask in the glory of our record breaking achievements from Saturday. My day has been taken up by it, doing a podcast with the Anfield Wrap, watching videos over and over again and ringing back all of the people who have left me missed calls this weekend. I’m still not caught up.
By tomorrow at 7.45pm though even the diehard fans will have put a fence around Burnley. I feel the national media found comments like ‘our thoughts turn to North Ferriby’ as lovely contrast for their stories. North Ferriby is (I’m sure by their own admission) a world away from FA Cup Quarter Finals and headlines in the Guardian. They serve as no more than a footnote in the press over the last 48 hours, but for proper Imps fans they’re so much more than that.
One of my highlights of the day in Burnley was hearing Forest Green and Dagenham both got beat when we got back to the car. The league has always been priority, and it has always been tight, but with those two slipping up on Saturday we have a real chance to put daylight between us and the chasing pack. The priority has to be promotion from the National League, and tomorrow night represents a fantastic chance to go six points clear with a game in hand. Looking at our upcoming fixtures, I don’t much fancy a trip to Aldershot to bring three points back, and I’ve a sneaky feeling York might be a tough prospect as well. We need all the breathing space we can get, especially with our two closest rivals still to come to Sincil Bank.
Dagenham are in action tomorrow night too, they’re at home to Bromley and will be looking to reduce that gap as quickly as possible. On paper North Ferriby should be a routine win, but only with the correct application will we come home with the bounty we set out to get. As we proved on Saturday, anyone can beat anyone if they set up right and go about their business in the correct manner. North Ferriby were unlucky not to get something from their match with Dover this weekend, and as they’re fighting for their lives they’ll be a tough nut to crack.
I imagine there were more home fans than away fans at the Dover game though, something that will not be the case tomorrow night. For the third time in four away games we’ll outnumber the home fans, possible by as many as 10-1. The wall of noise will be coming from the visitors, but fans don’t win you games, goals do.
Goals for North Ferriby have been few and far between, but their leading scorer with six is well-known to Imps fans, or at least those remember Carshalton away a few years ago. The game that has become the benchmark for us ‘scraping the bottom’ was also the professional debut of young Reece Thompson. He only featured as a substitute, but this season he’s been in decent form for North Ferriby, and doubtless he’d love to grab a goal against his former club.
North Ferriby have lost five of their last six games, their solitary victory in that time coming against fellow strugglers Southport. Of the eight league games they have won this season, the highest ranked team they’ve beaten is Gateshead, and they’ve lost every match they’ve played against teams in the top five. Every thing about tomorrow night screams slip-up to me. Then again I’m a pessimist, after watching Lincoln for 30 years I find it hard not to be. You’d think beating a Premier League team, still being in three competitions and sitting at the top of the league would give me a bit of optimism. Obviously not.
Looking properly at their form, North Ferriby actually going through a bit of a purple patch. From the end of August to the end of October they won just once, but in their last 14 games they’ve come out with 15 points. It might not be play-off form, it might not even save them from an immediate return to the National League North, but it is worth noting. It also gives a little bit of weight to my slight concerns about the game!
That said I still believe come 10pm tomorrow night we’ll have the three points we crave. Our management and players are focused on the task in hand, and the constant sound bites referring to tomorrows match were not just for the assembled media on Saturday. The players involved in the FA Cup win will want to prove they can do it when the cameras have packed up and the press are writing about someone else, and the players who didn’t get a run out on Saturday will be desperate to show they have a massive role to play in this season too. Everyone in the squad will want their names written in Lincoln City history, no matter what part it is they play.
Expect to see the likes of Josh Ginnelly, Billy Knott and Elliott Whitehouse feature at some point as DC freshens up the first eleven with so many games coming thick and fast. In terms of starting eleven I suspect he’ll stick close to the eleven that beat Burnley, especially as Boreham Wood represents a good opportunity to rest the key first team players. Danny knows, as do we, that Tuesday in Ferriby is more of a must-win game than Burnley was. On Saturday we created the headlines, but if we want to achieve then we need to be about so much more than a big result in the cup.