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Lincoln has been the major market mover following the first two rounds of the English National League but it is not too late to snap up a large price about the Imps winning the title and regaining their English Football League status.
Lincoln began its English National League campaign with a 3-1 away win over Woking. Adam Marriott fired Lincoln ahead and, after Ismail Yakubu equalised for Woking shortly after the second half started, Matt Rhead netted a brace of goals to secure three English National League points for the Imps. Rhead really ought to have scored a hat-trick but his second penalty kick of the English National League match was saved by Woking goalkeeper Michael Poke in the 79th minute.
Rhead helped himself to another two English National League goals when Lincoln beat North Ferriby 6-1 at home in its second divisional game. North Ferriby had Ben Middleton sent off midway through the first half but Lincoln were three goals up before Robert Whitton dismissed the Villagers defender and then Rhead’s penalty kick made it 4-0.
Lincoln’s detractors would say that the Imps have defeated a couple of teams that are expected to end up on the bottom third of the English National League ladder. However, even they would find it hard to knock the manner of Lincoln’s two English National League victories, competitive wins that followed an impressive series of pre-season results.
English National League bookmakers have promoted Lincoln to third favourite behind Tranmere and Forest Green but Bet365‘s odds of 7/1 8.00 +700 7.00 7.00 -0.14 about the Imps finishing first on the ladder and securing the division’s one and only automatic promotion spot are too good to pass up. One should not get hung up on the fact that Lincoln was available at odds of 16/1 17.00 +1600 16.00 16.00 -0.06 before the English National League kicked off last weekend.
Hiring the right manager is the key to success at this level of English football and Lincoln boss Danny Cowley’s record is the stuff of legend in England’s lower league. Cowley did not make it as a professional player – he represented the likes of Hornchurch and Romford – but he is heading towards the big time as a coach. Cowley contributed to Concord’s three promotions and various against-the-odds cup runs before joining Braintree along with his assistant manager, kid brother Nicky. Braintree finished last term’s English National League in third position, a remarkable achievement for a part-time side surviving a three-figure attendances. Lincoln is a full-time team and one thinks that Cowley will thrive rather than wilt under the pressure associated with leading one of the English National League’s biggest clubs.
Lincoln would have challenged for last season’s English National League silverware had it boasted a defence worthy of the name. Lincoln leaked 68 goals in its 46 English National League matches, which was at least 12 more goals than any of the top eight sides. Cowley’s Braintree had the English National League’s second-best defensive record and, therefore, it is reasonable to think that the Imps manager will be able to improve his new team’s rearguard action.
Three of Braintree’s better performers last term – Samuel Habergham, Taylor Miles and Alex Woodyard – have followed Cowley to Lincoln and they are not the only new faces at Sincil Bank. Confidence is coursing through the veins of every Lincoln player and one fancies the Imps to make it three wins from three English National League games when they host Sutton on Saturday. Another English National League triumph, even one at home to a promoted side, is likely to prompt bookmakers to cut their Imps odds again.
Lincoln City to win the English National League
Odds: 7/1 8.00 +700 7.00 7.00 -0.14
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