Push-Ups To The Championship?: Imps 5-0 Bristol Rovers

Credit Graham Burrell

Special. That’s what this week has been. That’s what yesterday was. That’s what the feeling around the club is. Special. 

As some of you may know, Gary’s taking a short break so you’ve got my perspective today. Those who know me are aware that I’m not normally lost for words. This week, however, I’ve found it almost impossible to talk Lincoln City. You start a conversation, and you just burst into a smile and lose all sense of objectivity. I’ll be objective a little later in this article, and dissect the game, the goals, and the decisions. But for now, let’s just take in this week.

You’ll all know the stats off by heart by now. 16 goals in three games, 13 unbeaten, 8 wins in 10, yet it is still almost impossible to quite comprehend the magnitude of what we’re doing. Going into yesterday’s game, I was confident of a win. Let’s be honest, how could I not be? But to score another five? Not a chance. It was a pipe dream, a joke we made on the podcast. Yet then again, playoffs were once a pipe dream.

So let’s go back to 2pm yesterday. The line-up was released and there were no major surprises, Jovon in for Freddie the only change from Tuesday night’s demolition job on a Cambridge United side who subsequently lost 4-0 to Reading yesterday.

Pick up where you left off. It would hardly be a surprise if Skubala used that phrase in any of his pre-match team talks. Well, whether the team needed to be told it or not, they duly obliged. 10 minutes in, and Makama is chasing down Connor Taylor to put the centre-half under pressure enough that his back-pass to goalkeeper Jed Ward went wayward and out for a corner. The first corner came in, aimed to the back post for a lingering Alex Mitchell, but was nodded out for another corner by the visiting defence. The second came in, an inswinger by Danny Mandroiu finding Paudie O’Connor who had broken free of his marker, with the skipper heading the ball into the ground and seeing it bounce straight into the back of the net. Happy St. Patrick’s Day all!

Credit: Graham Burrell

With the scoreline at 1-0 so early on, I expected us to ease to victory from that point. A little arrogant? Maybe, but with our form the way it is, hardly unreasonable. Rovers didn’t seem to get that memo, however, as only a few minutes later, they had a golden one-on-one opportunity. Lukas Jensen though rushed out, closed the attacker down, and started his day off strongly. For the record, according to SofaScore, Jensen has a 100% success rate on ‘rush-outs’ this season.

Again, however, any fears were quickly eased when Joe Taylor made it two. 19 minutes in, Reeco Hackett intercepted the ball on the left flank when Gas were trying to move the ball forward. Four passes later and the ball was in the back of the net. Sorensen’s pinpoint delivery, Taylor’s diving heading. Pure perfection from start to finish.

Less than 20 minutes on the clock, and it looked like we were cruising, and it certainly did four minutes later, when Joe Taylor secured his brace. Half the squad deserves massive credit for this goal. Sorensen chasing the ball down as soon as he lost it, Ethan Erhahon for his sublime touch to get the ball back, Joe Taylor for, well, the goal, Jack Moylan for a no-look pass into the box. However, the biggest contributor to the goal? Jovon. I’ve felt bad for the academy graduate this season. At the back end of 2023, he was thrust into the position of leading the line in League One, as a sole striker, with often no backup. Understandably, there were games where he wasn’t at a required level, but not every match, and it is hardly without reasonable explanations. But recently, playing up top in a two-striker formation, he’s been outstanding. There is a future at this football club for the young man, a potentially exciting future.

Getting through to half time still with a lead then became the next task. What a crazy statement. Three up, and we just wanted to get to the break with a lead? That is because the visitors got into the game and then some. Six shots on target from them in the first half. The Imps had four, but it was our clinicality that shone. Yet, they couldn’t get past the ‘brick wall’ that was Lukas Jensen. A word on Lukas. Somehow, we scored five, and he’s still one of if not the man of the match. 17 clean sheets now this season, and he’s going from strength to strength. His game is so well-rounded now and there really are no obvious flaws to the great Dane.