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Opposition View: Lincoln City (H), Saturday 23 September 2017


Chris

There is little to be said about Notts County that hasn't been said already - we are flying high at the minute in virtually every aspect of the club.

Eight matches unbeaten, four-game winning run in League Two, four clean sheets in a row, second in the table, and our brilliant manager Kevin Nolan has just signed a new three-year contract at Meadow Lane.

Up next for Notts is one of two derbies in the next three games, which sees newly promoted Lincoln City come to Meadow Lane on Saturday.

Pride of Nottingham has spoken to Imps fan Luke Kempson (Twitter: @LukeKempson1) to get an insight on the opposition.

About Luke: I have been a fan of the Imps since moving to Lincoln about eight years ago, it's the first time I can say that I truly felt what it's like to support a football club as I would rather have been playing but something clicked when I first went to Lincoln the last time we were in League Two against Hereford when the World Cup was present at Sincil Bank. My personal all time favourite player is Alan Power, as I think his hard work, mixed with his loyalty is something that is hard to find in football these days and he stuck with us through some bad, dark times and got his reward at the end of last season.

Q1- You guys were in non league for a number of years. What went wrong and how has it been put right?

What went wrong was we had a squad full of players who didn't care, they weren't proud to put on the shirt and they certainly put in very little if no effort at all. That has been an issue until recently where we seemed to give up and get bullied a lot of the time. It's been put right I feel when Chris Moyses took over, he installed some form of fight into the squad, and bought in hard working, honest players such as Bradley Wood, Matt Rhead and those players helped us out of a dark time and a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel, even though we finished 13th. I do feel that Chris Moyses laid down a foundation of which the Cowleys have taken it upon themselves to transform the club to another level and it's also been key that the football club has come back to the community which I felt during our relegation and the first three to four years it had taken a step back and not engaged as much with the fans as it did before.

Q2- Danny Cowley has been a revelation - just what makes him so special?

What can I say about these two brothers that hasn't already been said, they bought a new lease of life into Lincoln and they got the entire city to be proud of its football club again. Danny is a manager who puts players first beyond anything else, his man-management skills are perfect and because of his teaching background I am sure that has helped with the man-management side of things. Also, Danny engages with the fans and always has time out to come and talk to fans or if any fans approach him he always seems to have the time to make everyone feel a part of this club. I've not seen any football manager who puts in as much hard work as the Cowleys, they don't sleep I think or at least very little, they're at the club at 7am and won't leave until 9pm everything is thorough and everything is worked through to the finest detail. He uses a Sports Science background which I think helped propel the club to the next level and also combining two universities which are in the City and building good, solid partnerships with them.

Q3- You enjoyed a good cup run last season - can you give us an assessment of it.

It was beyond anyone's wildest dreams the cup run we went on last season it no doubt helped bring fans back to the club and engaged the entire City which seems to have stayed beyond. The fact we had a replay in the 4th qualifying round against Guiseley just to get through to round 1, then scraping a 2-1 win against Altrincham in the 1st round. Then it began on a very foggy night at Sincil Bank on a Monday, Oldham who were struggling in League One came into town and I felt we dominated 60 minutes of that game and were 3-0 up before they had a late comeback but it wasn't enough for them to get anything out of the game and what I remember by the final whistle you literally couldn't see the pitch as the fog was that thick and it had come down that low but that was the beginning of what was to come. The third round, the magical round for all lower league clubs felt a little underwhelming at the time to be going to Ipswich away, but as the game got closer and closer the more tickets being sold a 5,000 strong army of Imps fans made their way down to Portman Road, we of course went in with no expectation - I mean we were top of the National League, but they're a Championship side it was more of enjoying the day and hoping to battle. It finished 2-2 but in the replay we went on to win and into round four we go and the visit of then Championship leaders Brighton. Again, Sincil Bank was sold out and the atmosphere had been building, queing hours for tickets and they took the lead from a good flick on by Glenn Murray and it was a good finish from their striker in a first half which I think Brighton edged. The second half was something magical as Alan Power, an OG one of the worst I've seen and Theo Robinson set Sincil Bank a light as we came from 0-1 down to win 3-1 and that magical feeling spread again. Then more hours queing up for tickets in the freezing cold, as we all hoped to get a Burnley ticket and need I say more about what happened at Burnley, we bought them down into a physical battle, with Rheady bullying the life out of Barton all game long, why Barton would choose to mark our big man is still beyond me. But come the 89th minute and one of the set piece routines the Cowley's work on in training as Waterfall was free at the back post to head it back across the face of goal for his CB partner Sean Raggett who was always going to get on the end of that and beat Keane and Heaton, a slight pause before the goal was given and that then was utter madness for the next five minutes of injury time as we held on and claimed a priceless victory away at a Premiership side who the Sunday before had held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw and we'd beaten them, Lincoln City had made it to the Quarter finals of the FA Cup. It truly was a fairytale and then we get to Arsenal, due to the pressure Wenger was under at that time he fielded his strongest eleven and for 45 minutes we were in it, battling as 9,000 Imps were roaring the side on. It took a deflection from a Walcott shot to break the deadlock just before HT. Then well, you saw world class players tearing apart the Lincoln defence. We lost 5-0 but we played very well, with some passion. I'll always remember at the end, Danny Cowley had got the players in a huddle to reassure and encourage them that what they had achieved no other Non-League side had ever done that in over 100 years. The players were disappointed to be on the end of a 5-0 result but they came to applaud the 9,000 strong contingent and even was clapped by Arsenal fans as well, the effort was there for all to see. The money generated from this cup run has helped us have a much more healthy budget for this season and going towards building our own training ground. All in all it was a magical cup run, in a magical season almost once in a lifetime season for where we were at.

Q4- With Notts, Lincoln, Chesterfield and Mansfield all in League Two this season, which game are you looking forward to the most?

I was just happy to be back in the EFL, however with some wonderful local games to whet the appetite again was good. Games against Notts, Mansfield, Chesterfield and Grimsby were all dates most Imps fans were looking out for I'd imagine and the ticket sales for the trip to Notts on Saturday is clearly one a lot of Lincoln fans are relishing with selling out our allocation and even the 300 extra tickets we were given so 4,500 Imps will be at the game and the atmosphere should be amazing too.

Q5- Terry Hawkridge has done well for Notts so far. How will you greet him on Saturday?

Hawkridge is one hell of a player with one hell of a delivery, he scored the two goals to assure us of the League and I was gutted when he turned down a new contract with us and signed for you. However I shall be giving him a good reception before and after the game as he was one of our better players we've had and it's good to see him starting well for Notts, but during the ninety minutes he is the enemy so probably some banter during that time but I have nothing but respect for Terry.

Q6- Who are your key players this season, and what do you think the score/scorers will be?

We've made some shrewd signings this summer, none other than a contract extension for our engine Alex Woodyard and also his new partner in midfield of Michael Bostwick which was a signing I never thought we would be able to get. Those two for me are a danger if we can play through the thirds as both are more than comfortable on the ball. Also I feel we've got electric pace down the flanks with Harry Anderson, Nathan Arnold, Jordan Maguire-Drew and Josh Ginelly. That is also a danger, especially as we usually bring one of them off the bench fresh when the full backs of the opposition are tiring. Matt Green up front an accomplished striker who scores goals at this level and has such pace and strength in the channels.. Those are my key players to watch out for. I can only see it being a 1-2 win for the Imps, usually we wake up after going a goal down, but with this squad a majority of the time we're fighters and we have no idea when we're beaten.

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