Obviously, after a scintillating December, two Imps have been nominated for Football League awards.
Firstly, Danny Cowley is up for Manager of the Month. After an unbeaten run-up to Christmas and just a solitary goal conceded, surely he has to be favourite? He’s up against Neil Aspin who has turned around Port Vale’s season, Nathan Jones who has a 4-0 defeat on his December record and Colchester’s John McGreal. Surely, it has to be Danny? Colchester drew two and won three in December, Port Vale won four, drew two and lost two, although the two defeats were FLT against Shrewsbury and FA Cup against Yeovil. Luton won five, drew one (Notts County) and lost one (Port Vale). It has to be Danny.
The EFL statement said: “His side have improved every month on their return to the Sky Bet EFL. The confidence he has infused in his players shone through in December as they gained 13 points from a possible 15 and moved into the automatic promotion places.”
In December, City racked up wins against Yeovil Town (2-0), Accrington Stanley (2-0), Stevenage (3-0) and of course Forest Green Rovers (2-1). The only result stopping a 100% record was the respectable 0-0 draw at Newport County.
As well as Danny, the Big In has been nominated for Player of the Month, the second time an Imp has been put forward for the award this season. In October it was Neal Eardley, but he lost out to a goal scorer in Tom Pope. This month it is a centre-forward of our own, the big man with a delicate touch, Mr Matt Rhead.
The EFL statement said: “A perfect month for the Lincoln cult hero who celebrated signing a new contract by scoring four goals and setting up another. As well as scoring, he uses his physical presence cleverly to trouble defenders and create space for teammates.”
Rhead smashed four goals in five matches, including the brace against Forest Green on December 30th (pictured top courtesy of Graham Burrell). He was about so much more than goals though, as opposition managers put he ‘crashed’ some beautiful balls forward for Matt Green to run onto. The two of them worked so well throughout the month, Green with the running and Rhead with the poise and grace the belies his size and style.
He’s up against Callum Lang, the Wigan player on loan at Morecambe who scored five goals, Sammie Szmodics of Colchester who also scored five and Alan Sheehan of Luton. Sheehan’s inclusion is great, his December might have been special but his January started awfully as he was sent off after just four minutes for going all ‘Anthony Joshua’ on Rheady. I’d be incredibly surprised if Sheehan won the awards, but likewise I suspect it’ll be going to one of the other two, despite Rhead’s heroics.
Expect City to win one of the two, but from a pool of 24 managers and several hundred players, Rhead’s nomination is an award in itself.