Our latest fan-focused view from the terraces takes a look at the magic dust being sprinkled on League Two Lincoln by the Cowley brothers.
Lincoln City‘s unbeaten start to League Two bit the dust last weekend – but the Imps remain a great bet for promotion this season under managerial duo Danny and Nicky Cowley.
Whether it be at Concord, Braintree or Lincoln City, the Cowleys have surpassed almost every challenge they have faced thus far from the dugout.
For those currently unaware as to the system in place at Lincoln, manager Danny works alongside brother, Nicky, who operates as his assistant.
It is something of a fairytale story: the two brothers giving up their jobs as PE teachers to become full-time managers at Lincoln.
Since their arrival at Sincil Bank, they have taken the Imps out of the National League courtesy of a title-winning season in 2016/17 – when they also hit the headlines for reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals, a feat no non-league club had managed since 1913-14.
Last season, the Cowleys built upon these impressive foundations: winning the Checkatrade Trophy (with a 1-0 victory over League One outfit Shrewsbury Town at Wembley) and leading the Imps into the League Two play-offs, where they narrowly lost out to Exeter.
The Cowley brothers have enjoyed a series of magical campaigns in recent years, but Lincoln’s start to this season stands out.
The 16-points they have accumulated over the first seven league games has unsurprisingly propelled Lincoln to the top of League Two and provides a great platform for the season ahead.
Defeat to Crawley last weekend was mitigated by a red card dished out to captain Lee Frecklington, while the Imps have never lost more than two league games in a row under Cowley – who will be looking for his troops to bounce back immediately this weekend at Macclesfield.
Six of the best
Prior to their defeat to League Two’s Red Devils, Lincoln had recorded five victories out of six, including a 3-0 away win at last season’s play-off finalists Exeter City.
How did Cowley’s first six games this season compare to previous years?
Concord Rangers 14/15: 7 points (WLLLWD)
Braintree Town 15/16: 10 points (LLDWWW)
Lincoln City 16/17: 12 points (WWLLWW)
Lincoln City 17/18: 9 points (DDLWDW)
Lincoln City 18/19: 16 POINTS (WWDWWW)
It’s clear to see the impact the Cowleys have had on the pitch. Followers of League Two generally consider Lincoln as a side that is ‘hard to breakdown’ and there have been mutterings of disapproval regarding the style of play the Cowley brothers are implementing. Ultimately, however, football is a results industry and there is no doubt the Cowleys have a formula that is proving to be just as effective in the Football League as it was in non-league.
Last season was the first time the Cowley brothers had managed in the Football League and to produce another extremely competitive campaign is a testament to their tactical ability and, above all, their hard-work.
On and off the pitch
What might perhaps go under the radar, specifically for fans of other clubs, is the impact they have made off the pitch. Being a Lincoln fan, I have witnessed first-hand the club becoming closer, and more connected, to fans than ever before. One of the main targets the Cowleys set themselves was to reignite the love of Lincoln within the city – which had suffered years of disappointment after relegation struck in 2011.
It’s fair to say that this has been achieved. Bumper crowds at every home game has resulted in Lincoln being one of the best supported clubs in the EFL. Another noticeable change has been the sheer increase in the number of families attending with children sporting Lincoln City shirts. In the past, lots of Manchester United and Barcelona shirts at matches reflected a lack of local interest. Now, it has become almost fashionable to showcase the red and white of Lincoln, which is basking in the glow of a strong sense of community ingrained in the club by the Cowleys since their appointment.