The new era begins on Saturday as Lincoln City look to get back to winning ways at home against Bristol Rovers. The first game after the Danny and Nicky Cowley reign.
The Gas sit in 13th place in Sky Bet League One having picked up eight points from their first seven games. An improvement of the side that almost tumbled into League Two last time out.
I caught up with an old university pal of mine and Gashead, Matt Iles ahead of the clash:
1) What have you made to Rovers’ start to the season?
The season so far has been a mixed bag. Away from home so far we have been relatively poor but showed improved signs last time out at Burton despite losing the game 2-0. The fact we are yet to score on the road suggests maybe there is something amongst these players when being away from the Memorial Stadium.
Home form has been good but should be better.
The two draws against Accrington and Wycombe were games we should have done better with and they were definitely missed opportunities. But so far on the whole it’s been good and bad.
2) What are realistic aims for the Gas? Can they mount a promotion push?
To be honest I think we aren’t good enough to mount a strong charge for promotion which is shame given the club and the fan base.
We lack the finances to really compete at this level and it’s something holding this club back.
I just think we all want to avoid a season like last year where it was a serious nail-biter and very much nervy to watch. A solid top half finish for me would be the key and is something I believe a lot of Gasheads would take.
3) What are your views as Lincoln City as a club?
Given this the first meeting in four and a half years and last one was in the National League a lot has changed for both.
Both have enjoyed success but Lincoln’s compared to Rovers is far greater given their two promotions, EFL Trophy win and reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals.
It’s nice to see the club in the right direction after years of doing nothing and just ebbing away and becoming something of an underachievement. It’s nice to see them doing well and very much on the rise and one that has been seriously transformed.
4) Can you see the events of this week working in Bristol Rovers’ favour?
To be honest, I don’t think it makes a difference what has happened this week as Lincoln are still heavy favourites.
Rovers know they are massive underdogs to go to a fortress like Sincil Bank and pick something up, it was always going to be tough regardless of Cowley staying or going.
5) Since the back-to-back promotions, fairly close to the achievements Lincoln, why haven’t Rovers been able to built on that momentum and push for the Championship?
Hard to say, the club’s level is bottom half of League One really given its infrastructure and the fact the club only now off the pitch is trying to get with modern times.
The feeling around the club at the moment is one where the feel is the club is going stale in all areas and not moving forward and slowly moving backwards which was previous boss Darrell Clarke was seriously concerned about.
Attendances are down by 13%, the fans are starting to notice that the football isn’t particularly great and that the mood is just one of frustration.
6) How can you see the game going? Score prediction?
The game I think will still go in Lincoln’s favour with them winning 3-1.
The manager Graham Coughlan has been unhappy with our recent defensive displays. In his pre-match press conference he said he has done a lot of work on the defensive side of the game as he has been annoyed at how open we have been at the back and very annoyed with the errors we are making.
I believe Rovers will want to keep things very tight and give Lincoln a lot of the ball and let them try and break us down. I think Rovers will set up very robustly and very tight, much like what we were last year in the second half of the season and hope we can nick a goal on the counter-attack.