Matt’s Monologue: Hats off to Lincoln

Lincoln have today confirmed themselves as winners of the National League after beating Macclesfield 2-1.

With just two games left in the campaign, they can no longer be caught by Tranmere, who are set to settle for second – as long as they pick up a couple of points from their remaining games.

To be fair, I think Danny Cowley’s side should be praised hugely for how they have performed this season. The way they have kept going is utterly remarkable.

We are talking about a team who reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy and the last eight of the FA Cup. By the time they play Southport in their final game of the season, they will have had 61 fixtures.

I was one of the doubters. Given the amount of games they had to play, and the catching up on their rivals in the top five, I thought the squad would run out of steam eventually.

Some thought the pressure of maintaining the form in the league and cup would be telling eventually too.

Perhaps if the likes of Tranmere could keep winning, the heat of the situation would get to Lincoln and they might “bottle” it.

Well, Rovers did keep going, yet Lincoln have matched them stride for stride.

They did have a little blip; a run of just two victories from six National League fixtures between February and March.

But since then, the form has been scintillating. Ahead of today’s game against Macclesfield, Danny Cowley’s have won six in a row, grinding out result after result.

Tranmere actually had a bit of hope over Easter. Twice Lincoln trailed heading into the final minutes of their games against Torquay and Gateshead.

Yet they showed true resilience and character to come from behind and win each match 2-1. The form of champions.

Micky Mellon knows how good they have been. “Fair play to Lincoln,” he said following last week’s win over Guiseley, after which he conceded defeat in Rovers’ battle for top spot.

“There’s nothing more that we can do than what we’ve been doing.

“We had two tough games where we didn’t collect maximum points and Lincoln did. I’m a football man and I’ll be the first to say ‘fair play’ to them.”

So it means Tranmere will have to “settle” for the lottery of the play-offs. The success of the season arguably hinges on getting through them and winning promotion.

But I think it has still been a good campaign. The form since Micky Mellon came in has been remarkable (he has a win rate of over 63%) and finishing second is more than respectable, especially given it is 12 years since they extended the season.

The club have also accumulated a record points tally. They are on 89 at the moment, nine more than the total achieved by Ray Mathias in 2002/03.

Wins against Southport and Maidstone would mean Rovers end the campaign on 95.

And if it’s any consolation, that total would only have been enough to win the National League outright in two of the last nine seasons.


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