Dreaming of a Weekend in London 

Credit Graham Burrell

After about 16:15 last Saturday, I spent the remainder of the day in shock, just completely numb to what we had witnessed, writes Kyle Kennealey.  

Lincoln City scored FIVE goals away at Barnsley. With no disrespect to any side we have faced over the past decade, they weren’t an outfit we were expected to beat, I would argue quite the opposite. They are a top team, with some real quality players, and a team that will certainly give anyone a game in the playoffs if they miss out on automatic promotion.  

Even looking at last season, we beat both the top two (Ipswich and Plymouth Argyle) away from home. But to humiliate one on their own patch is real testament to this Michael Skubala side.  

I watched the Tykes the Tuesday before against Bolton Wanderers, and they were an excellent outfit. They really impressed me in the first period, but the Trotters really got at the home side in the final half hour, duly getting their reward. That gave me a slight hope for the weekend because after 47 minutes I was fearing the worst.  

Credit Graham Burrell

Barnsley 1-5 Lincoln City  

Living in Sheffield while at university meant Barnsley was the closest away game I would get to attend while here. I went with one of my mates from university, who is an Aldershot Town fan. He had the joy of witnessing our victory over Charlton Athletic in October, which until last month was our last home win. 

Barnsley is known to be difficult to find a drink for away fans, in the sense that there tends to be no designated away pubs. That’s not to say that visiting supporters can’t enjoy a drink, but usually, they have to keep their team quiet. But as we arrived outside the train station, The Courthouse was policed by South Yorkshire’s finest, and before I even had a chance to catch my breath we were directed there.  

Just a touch on SYP before I continue. I have had the joy of encountering them numerous times while watching football and have had a gripe against them for their handling of away fans when we travelled to play Sheffield Wednesday in 2021. I was also at Oakwell a few weeks ago when Derby were in town, and the organisation from the police along with Northern Rail was nothing short of shambolic. I’m pleased to say though that Saturday passed without incident from my perspective.  

With an away backing of almost 2000 expected, the pub was packed with Imps fans, meaning we had to settle for a seat outside. There was a nice atmosphere building with kick-off still 90 minutes away. The price of a pint in this pub blew me away, and not in the way you may expect. Two pints for £7.20, albeit Carling (the only working larger they had on tap) is an excellent price, particularly in a non-Wetherspoons.  

With kick-off quickly approaching, I made my way to the ground without much pre-match confidence. That isn’t a knock on our current side, I just couldn’t see us beating Barnsley on their own turf. I remarked after their midweek result that if we attacked from the off, pressed high as Bolton did towards the end, then we stood half a chance of getting a result.  

An early goal would go some way to achieving that.  

And that’s precisely what we did! Danny Mandroiu has taken a massive amount of credit for his part in the goal, meaning that Lasse Sorensen’s assist has gone very much under the radar. To loft a bouncing ball straight into the path of Joe Taylor at the first time of asking requires a great deal of skill. The on-loan Luton Town man made no mistake with the finish, a far cry from his early days against Derby when he failed to find the net in similar situations. This was a man in form, and it had taken him just fifteen minutes to give us the lead.  

I won’t go into masses of detail about either game, as Gary has already given a very good account of them. That goal awoke a response from the home side, and they looked threatening for the rest of the half, without giving us too many moments to feel genuinely fearful. What we did need early in the second period was a second goal to make the game safe.  

Didn’t we do that, and then some! Jack Moylan was introduced at the break, and it took him only ten minutes to get on the scoresheet. There was scarcely a moment’s breath before Mandroiu added a third, sending the away end into dreamland. Three more goals followed in a seven-minute spell during the final quarter of the game, with two in our favour.  

Moylan hit a spectacular effort from distance to find the bottom corner. At the time I felt Liam Roberts had to do better, but the replay shows that might have been a little harsh, as he appears to see the ball late. Adam Phillips showed why he had just picked up the League One Player of the Month award with an arrowed finish, although it was nothing more than a consolation for the home supporters still inside Oakwell. I’m not a massive fan of goal music, never mind when you’re four down. I think there was more celebration in the away end than among the locals, and that tune got a proper rendition from the supporters behind the goal two minutes later when Jovon Makama bundled in a fifth.  

From 3-0 onwards, most of that afternoon felt like a blur, a dream that you never want to end. That away end was one of the best I’ve been in, but there was palpable shock at what was being witnessed. And the full-time celebration will live with me for a long time, full of pure jubilation.  

With news filtering through that Stevenage had failed to beat ten-man Fleetwood Town, the significance of our win went up a notch. Onto Tuesday, where Cambridge United awaited us… 

Credit Graham Burrell

Lincoln City 6-0 Cambridge United 

I work out what games I am going to weeks in advance, to try and save money. Fortunately, I had decided to come back after Barnsley and travel back to Sheffield on Tuesday evening. For those of you who don’t know, I watch a massive amount of live football, but you might as well while you’re still young, right?!  

The pre-match build-up to this one had a different and more personal feel. My brother Josh has been at Lincoln’s academy for a good few years now, and prior to the game signed a scholarship with the club. I found out last Wednesday, and keeping the news quiet was genuinely a challenge. Josh, it is fair to say, is not the most emotional of people, but even he felt a sense of achievement. While he enjoyed the pre-match build-up at the ground, meeting Skubala and revelling in the joy of his achievement, me and Leah (my sister) went to Wetherspoons for dinner. Life, eh?! 

The team news produced no real shocks, Moylan in for Draper, and the first half belonged to the former Shelbourne man. Both of his strikes were by a man buoyed by his showing on Saturday and were two individual pieces of brilliance. Ben House’s injury was the only negative from the opening 45, but we pretty quickly shrugged it off.  

Again, it took only three minutes into the half for the third to arrive, Taylor walking the ball into the net to end the game as a contest. The fourth was a combination by the two in-form men, with Moylan splitting the defence and Taylor dinking over Jack Stevens. There was even time for substitutes TJ Eyoma and Dylan Duffy to complete the rout.  

That made it eleven goals scored in four halves of football, and remarkably took our goal difference ahead of all our Play-Off rivals. Oxford United suffered a harrowing defeat at Bolton, which means our GD is now ten higher than the U’s. Such fine margins may be so crucial in six weeks time.  

The following evening saw a result that we needed, Stevenage losing. Now the gap to Boro stands at three points, and by Saturday at 5pm we could be in sixth spot. That would require a minor miracle of four results going in our favour, but we can dare to dream.  

And dream we will! No one knows what the next eight games will bring. What we can do is enjoy it, drink in the good feeling around the club at the moment and embrace the ride. If you are planning anything in May, maybe hold off booking anything just yet. 

The run-in starts today!  

Up the Imps!