Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why we MUST win the replay at Mansfield

Hello all

Cast your minds back about six weeks, it's mid-October and the Imps are drawn to play Halifax in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round, but after a poor performance at Sincil Bank, many are already saying "oh well, there's always next year".......six weeks later and the Imps were about ninety seconds away from guaranteeing themselves a place in the third round, but a late equaliser means a replay and despite being in the draw, Lincoln fans couldn't quite enjoy it as much as if we were already there....or so we thought.....the draw was done the next day and it guarantees the winners of the replay between Lincoln and Mansfield Town a home game against Premiership midtable side Liverpool, and it's a game that could prove to be one of the biggest in Lincoln's history.....if we make it there.

I've seen Lincoln play two Premier League teams during my twelve years of going to Sincil Bank regularly (I had only been intermittently before hand), Birmingham in the Carling Cup in 2004/5 and the epic tie at Fulham in the same competition a year later, however, neither would compare with the second most successful team in English club football coming to Sincil Bank for an FA Cup tie, however, it's not just the chance to see some of the most famous names in the English game in Lincoln, it's a chance for the club to getting what is effectively a "get out of jail free" card.

Having already played five games in this season's FA Cup, and the guarantee of a sixth with the replay at Mansfield, the Imps have already made a decent amount of money from this season's cup run, and the club have made no secret that the money is most definitely needed. Several years of mismanagement from the top level at the club, coupled with the club's relegation 19 months ago, saw the club fall on hard financial times and many fans speculated that we wouldn't have a club anymore within a few years. I admit I was one of those fans who thought it was just a matter of time before the club folded, and I had precisely no interest in going to watch whatever phoenix club arose from that situation.

A game against Liverpool at home would be a near enough guaranteed sell-out and even though Sincil Bank isn't even that big and we would have to share the gate money, that is a LOT of extra money and even if we lost the game, combine the attendance money with all the money accumulated from the previous rounds, and all of a sudden we will have gained well into the six figure category.....and then not to forget that whomever wins the replay is almost certain to have their game against Liverpool on TV, that's even more money.

It's also not been that long since we played Liverpool in a friendly at Sincil Bank in 2006, as the Premier League side came as part of a deal that saw Jack Hobbs got to Anfield. That night saw a packed Sincil Bank watch City narrowly lose 2-1 with what would turn out to be one of Ryan Semple's few positive contributions in a Lincoln City shirt. Highlights of this game below.

Although obviously there's no guarantee that we'll even get there, but if did get there then this game goes a long way to helping secure the long term future of our football club, and more importantly it would give us hope for the future. With the club already on a good run, the fans are slowly starting to come back and hopefully those that come to the FA Cup tie (if we make it of course) who live locally will consider going on a more regular basis.

It's also the type of game that can push a club onto the next level in terms of performance for the rest of the season. In 2006/7 Bristol Rovers went to Derby County, a big draw, and although they lost, it sort of turned their season around as they went from midtable also-rans to a side that eventually won promotion. With the Imps not too far from the Playoff places and having games in hand over most of the teams above us, the positive mood around the City could easily continue into pushing on for the Playoffs.

Although there's still a long way to go and we are still closer to the relegation zone than the Playoff places, the positivity around Sincil Bank at the moment is immense, not only because of the fact we haven't lost in the league since early October, but that we are also putting in good performances, scoring goals for fun and it looks like we have a squad, that although it looked a bit dodgy at first, is coming along nicely.

Whatever happens, whether we make the third round or not, this has been one of our most memorable FA Cup runs in recent memories. All the negativity surrounding the fans after the 0-0 draw with Halifax, all of their fans' arrogance before the replay, the look on their faces when we won, battering Walsall over two games and coming within seconds of beating a side who have a budget that shadows our's, this has been a memorable cup run to say the least.

And it seems fitting to leave you with the video of the game at Walsall, one of the many good memories from this year's FA Cup run.........

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