I’ve not had a bad run this season with my predictions. I did have us top throughout the first part of the year, I called FGR overtaking us by the time we met this weekend and I predicted the fall of Dagenham in the last few weeks. Therefore I’ve decided to turn my hand to predicting the last matches of the season, to see if I think it’s feasible for Lincoln City to be crowned champions. Here are my predictions, with a final top four for you to mull over.
Dagenham and Redbridge
The Daggers are on the edges of the promotion race, and they’ve got to come to Sincil Bank before the end of the season. First up though is a tough match at home to a resurgent York City, and I think they’ll drop points. that will be really damaging to them with games running out, and despite a win against Eastleigh they’ll draw two days later at the Bank to effectively end their Championship hunt. After that they play Macclesfield (W), Boreham Wood (W), Sutton (W), Wrexham (D) before ending their season with a victory over Woking. That’s five wins and three draws for the London side, a haul that will give them a total of 85 points. It won’t be enough to win the league, that’s for sure.
The Villagers scored a major goal last night after 5 minutes of injury time that saw them build up a three point lead over us. Going into Saturday they have a real impetus, a with our three games in hand they know they have to get at least a point if they’re to cement their place in pole position. Do I think they’ll get it?
Yes, I’m afraid I do. I know we won there earlier in the season, but we were second best for at least 60 minutes of that game, and I think they’ll come to Sincil Bank and take all three points. It won’t give them an unassailable lead, but it will give them belief they can go on and win the league. More on that in a bit.
After that they face North Ferriby who won’t push them as far as Solihull did, and briefly they’ll have a really good lead over us. I do think they’ll struggle against their next relegation haunted side though. Guiseley have proven they are incredibly hard to beat, and as they’re battling for survival I think they can get a draw on April 8th. Tranmere host Mark Cooper’s side on April 11th, and a second consecutive draw will seriously dent their championship hopes. They’ll bounce back with a win at Chester, another at Southport and a third consecutive win at home to Maidstone, but that nice lead they’ve amassed will start to erode as we accumulate points from our games in hand. I think they’ll go into the final match of the season on 92 points, with us a place above them on 93. Can they turn over York City, and watch us lose at Southport? No. They’ll draw, meaning they finish on 93 points.
I see a tough couple of weeks ahead for us. We’re down on confidence at the minute, and when that happens you want a North Ferriby at home, or maybe Southport. Instead we get Forest Green, the league’s in-form team. It’s a big game, there will be a big atmosphere and I fear we’ll lose out. On Sunday morning there will be a lot of sad Imps fans thinking the Football League has passed us by.
It’s not going to get any easier either. I can see us struggling on the plastic pitch of Sutton on Tuesday night, and a point will be our only reward. We’ll all be edge for the visit of Bromley, but as long as we keep Blair Turgott in check we’ll pick up all three points with a starting eleven featuring three or four of the loan players. The mini revival will be halted when Dagenham come up just 48 hours later, the ‘first team’ hopefully claiming a vital draw.
Then we will begin to find that method again, just like Braintree did last year we’ll find the inner strength we need to seize the initiative. In March last year Braintree won just twice in eight games, but they found their form and battered out five straight victories. Lincoln will do the same this year, Eastleigh, Chester and Torquay will all feel the full force of a revitalised and rejuvenated Imps side. Those nine points in six days will herald the true arrival of spring, and will eclipse the run that DC and NC bounced back from so convincingly twelve months ago
A stumble at Gateshead will bring a draw, but we’ll get back to winning ways in front of a full Sincil Bank on April 22nd against a Macclesfield side who will be out of reach of the play-off race. With two games to go we’ll be on 90 points. Forest Green will be on 92, and we’ll need a massive midweek performance at Maidstone to catch them, and another at Southport on the last day to ensure we finish above them. Cue back to back wins and an end of season placing victory over our vegan rivals. 96 points for City.
After falling away in the new year, Tranmere have steadily built up a head of steam, and their run-in looks favourable compared to the others. We might be on method, but with their attacking options they have goals in them, but do they have enough?
They host Braintree this weekend and I’m afraid that’s only going one way. Coupled with us losing against FGR they’ll leapfrog City and move into second place. Cue much hand wringing on some social media forums by unhappy Imps. Dover visit on Tuesday and with a move up the league a confident Tranmere will register another win. The outcome will be the same away at Woking, when Sutton visit on April 4th and when Solihull go there four days later. Five wins from five games, with plenty of goals scored too.
Tuesday 11th of April will be a big night. Whilst we host mid-table Chester they’ll be welcoming Dale Vince’s side, and I can see that being a draw, marking the start of a tough Easter period. Good Friday signals an Aldershot visit, and the Shots look good when they’re playing attacking opposition that like to get the ball down. Another draw, and four points dropped in the race for the title. They’ll restore some parity on Easter Monday against Guiseley, and again on the penultimate weekend against Southport. That will mean with seven days to go I think they’ll be on 93 points, a tally we’ll reach on the following Tuesday at Maidstone. The title will be decided on the last weekend, where Tranmere will need to match City’s result when they go to Maidstone. That will be a Tranmere win that will relegate the Stones, but with eight wins and two draws from their remaining ten matches, the so-called Super White Army have 96 points.
At this point you’ll realise that I have City and Tranmere level on points, so I believe that the title will boil down to goal difference. If I’m right (which I rarely am in truth) then Tranmere will have six weeks to overhaul a ten-goal deficit if they want to be promoted to the Football League. I’ve proven that even if FGR win this weekend, we can still end up with a better points tally, but the real threat comes from the Wirral. Every team has a good spell, and FGR are having theirs now but that match with Tranmere is huge. Once their momentum is dented it will be Tranmere with those two games in hand who will be the team to catch.
We have to keep believing, and no matter what happens in the next seven days that belief can not be shaken. Three games in hand should yield five or six points for Lincoln as a minimum, and our rivals will drop points as well. Time is running out for the other two to stake their claim for the title and we have three ‘free hits’ still to play. Given Danny and Nicky’s late surge with Braintree last season, I think we can do it. The question is, can we make the most of our ten goal head start?
Last year at this stage I predicted Lincoln would surge into the play-offs and that Braintree would fade into oblivion, so perhaps you shouldn’t put any money on the things I’ve predicted.