It’s the FA Cup third round this coming weekend but not for Lincoln City and Hereford who must first deal with their much delayed second round fixture. The winners will play Wycombe Wanderers in round three.
For City it is a chance to get their season back on track, the Imps have been stranded in the recent snows. They were showing signs of an improvement in form, if the debacle against Bury is discounted, but have emerged from the ice age and have only a poor showing against Bradford City and a disappointing loss against Northampton where they conceded a late wonder goal, for their efforts.
Manager Steve Tilson was in no doubt that Lincoln were good value for a point against the Cobblers. "I thought we deserved a point and we were far the better side in the first half," he said. "We kept the ball really well, but in the second half they came out and got the ball forward quickly.
"Although they looked a danger from set-pieces, they never looked like hurting us in open play. Again they scored from a long throw and for the second goal again it was another throw that we failed to clear.
"It's disappointing and we certainly deserved to get a point. They put a few long balls into the box, but we dominated in the first half. It was disappointing to concede in the last couple of minutes, but I honestly felt we could clear our lines better."
Not for the first time it’s back to the drawing board for the Imps but, with no league points at stake and even if they win a less than inspiring tie in the third round maybe this is the sort of stress free encounter the players will lap up and find their shooting boots. Trouble is Hereford will presumably be of the same mind, their season has been as disjointed as City’s and will view the game in the same light.
Tilson made a good few changes for the Northampton game so it will be interesting to see who claims a shirt this time. Danny Hone, returned from Darlington, was immediately reinstated with Moses Swaibu left out after the Bradford match where a mix up led to the Bantams taking an early lead.
There is some controversy here as the players have not been giving interviews to the local press following their coverage of Swaibu’s alleged misdemeanour so enough said about that. Scott Kerr cannot seem to fully force his way into the Gaffers affections despite his usual resolute performances in midfield where Luke Howell will hope to claim a place.
Clapham too, after being ever present for the last few games was absent from the squad altogether and Jarrett and Carayol found themselves on the bench, again the pair were automatic choices until Sixfields. The manager gave the usual stock reasoning.
"We've played two games in three days and you have to remember up until then we had not played for 35 days," said Tilson. "It was just a change in personnel to get some fresh legs in there to give players the opportunity to perform.
Tilson will not need to be reminded that a performance is just what is needed to banish those mid winter blues and get the fans minds back on football in general and Lincoln City in particular. For Chairman Bob Dorrian, other concerns.
“By winning it we get a decent amount of prize money. I would urge all supporters to come down and get behind the team.”
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.