Last season was quite the time to be a Lincoln City fan. The Imps lifted the National League title to end their six-year exile from the Football League, and reached the FA Cup Quarter-Finals. And there’s every reason to believe the club’s upward trajectory will continue.
With the East Midlands outfit having only just come up, some punters may be surprised to see them as short as 5/2 to achieve a second successive promotion. But a closer look at Danny Cowley’s side shows that they more than justify that price.
Despite romping to the National League title with an eye-catching haul of 99 points, the club’s most impressive feats actually came in the FA Cup.
Incredible Imps overcame the big boys
Lincoln knocked three sides from the top two tiers out of the competition, besting each of Ipswich Town and Brighton & Hove Albion at Sincil Bank, before beating Burnley 1-0 at Turf Moor. That’s the same Burnley who won more than half of their home Premier League games last term.
If the Imps have the strike-power and defensive solidity to overcome several sides of that calibre in succession, it’s hard to see them having too many problems against the likes of Cheltenham Town or Morecambe.
And Cowley’s transfer business this summer has only served to improve the squad in LN5.
New buys combine excitement and experience
Striker Matt Green has arrived from Mansfield Town, having hit double-figures in consecutive League Two campaigns for the Stags.
Meanwhile, Brighton & Hove Albion youngster Jordan Maguire-Drew has joined on loan, having enjoyed a stellar campaign with Dagenham & Redbridge last term – managing 15 goals and nine assists from the wing.
With other seasoned EFL pros like Billy Knott and Ollie Palmer also signing up on permanent moves, Cowley has plenty of talented new options to choose from.
But just as importantly – if not more so – is the fact that all the key performers from last season have remained.
The club have hung onto the likes of Everest-sized hitman Matt Rhead (38 goals in two seasons), wing wizard Nathan Arnold, and defensive dynamos like Sean Raggett and captain Luke Waterfall this summer. The quality and ready-made partnerships those players possess can only be a huge positive for the Imps.
However, while plenty of his squad have impressive stats, none of them can quite match Cowley’s record in the dugout.
Cowley’s promotion flurry a huge positive
The 38-year-old has overseen five promotions in his 10 years in management, guiding Essex outfits Concord Rangers and Braintree Town to unprecedented success in Non-League, before taking over the reins at Sincil Bank.
However, while he appears to have the blueprint for success, the young gaffer can also take inspiration from the recent feats of Bristol Rovers.
The Gas – under the stewardship of another up-and-coming boss, Darrell Clarke – won successive promotions to rise from the National League to League One from 2014-16.
With a similarly large and passionate fanbase and decent financial backing, it seems only natural the Imps will follow Rovers’ feats this term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing