Bookmakers are not affording sufficient respect to Lincoln in the match of the English League Two round, the Red Imps versus Mansfield at Sincil Bank on Saturday.
Seven rounds into the English League Two competition and Lincoln is fifth on the ladder with a 3-3-1 record as it adjusts to life in England’s fourth tier after taking out the English National League title. And Lincoln’s solitary English League Two loss – 0-1 at Exeter in the second round – do not read all that bad now that the Grecians are three points clear at the top of the ladder and their goal scorer, Reuben Reid, is hitting the back of the net for fun.
One thought that Lincoln represented the English League Two futures value and the Red Imps, with the Cowley brothers in their dugout, have shown enough in the first part of the season to suggest that they will be in the championship conversation throughout the tournament. Lincoln accrued a lot of money during its English FA Cup run last term and the Red Imps have spent some of it wisely and they are likely to splash the cash again if they are in contention in January.
Mansfield was the major market mover in English League Two betting before a ball was kicked, primarily due to Steve Evans being the Stags boss and his reputation for getting sides promoted from the division. So far, however, Mansfield has not lived up to its billing as the English League Two favourite, winning just two of its nine games across all competitions – 2-0 at home to 23rd-placed Forest Green and a 4-1 home win over 15th-ranked Grimsby in which the defeated Mariners gave away two penalty goals and one own goal.
Lincoln and Mansfield have had four common English League Two opponents – Carlisle, Forest Green, Luton and Wycombe – and, according to one’s collateral form analysis, the Red Imps enjoy a 2-2-0 advantage over the Stags, which is a significant difference. Furthermore, Lincoln and Mansfield went head to head in the English EFL Trophy on Tuesday 29 August and the cup tie resulted in a deserved 3-1 road victory for the Red Imps. Admittedly, both Lincoln and Mansfield made several changes from their regular starting line-ups for their English EFL Trophy encounter but the Red Imps should take some confidence from that game in which they won the corner-kick count 8-2 and came from behind after conceding an early goal to power to a strong win.
With Lincoln available at odds of +160 with 32Red, 888Sport and Unibet, there is a simple value case for backing the Red Imps. Seven English League Two rounds and a couple of cup matches is a reasonable body of evidence and, remember, Lincoln and Mansfield have had more than their fair share of common foes. Odds of +160 imply that Lincoln is a fair few notches below Mansfield in terms of ability because, in matches between teams of equal standard, home teams should be odds around the +120 mark. According to the various odds comparison websites, at the time of writing the market is starting to move towards Lincoln but the odds are so far wide of the mark that the Red Imps are almost guaranteed to run onto the Sincil Bank pitch with their odds still being too high.
Fewer than 30 miles separates the city of Lincoln and the town of Mansfield so Sincil Bank should be packed to the rafters for what is not a traditional derby but what is a game between two neighbours which have similar ambitions.
Lincoln to beat Mansfield
Saturday 16th September, 13:00 GMT