Doncaster Rovers v Lincoln City: The opposition view – ‘The start has been beyond the wildest dreams’

Their rise has been incredible and, as they head to town this weekend it shows little sign of slowing for Lincoln City.

Friday, 23rd August 2019, 1:00 pm
Nicky and Danny Cowley

It has been an impressive start to life in League One but what has been the secret to the success of the last few weeks.

We spoke to the Lincolnshire Echo’s Imps writer Mark Whiley to get the lowdown ahead of their trip to the Keepmoat.

Q: It's been an incredible rise under the guidance of the Cowley brothers. What is expected of this season from the Imps?

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MW: After two promotions in three seasons, the talk has been about establishing themselves in League One. Danny Cowley has been eager to rein in expectations and has stressed that the step between League Two and League One is a sizeable one.

Ahead of the season, everyone would be have been happy with a mid-table finish before pushing on next season.

But given the craziness of the last three years, nothing can be ruled out.

Q: How have Lincoln looked in League One so far?

MW: Very, very good. Ahead of the MK Dons game, they had won four games in league and cup, scoring nine goals and not conceding.

They've played some great football as well, with goals coming from all over the pitch. Aside from Rotherham away - where they surprisingly won 2-0 - they've had a kind start on paper, but you can only play what's in front of you.

The start has been beyond the wildest dreams of supporters - and probably anyone at the club.

Q: Danny Cowley's reputation continues to grow. Why has he been so successful and what has kept him at Lincoln?

MW: Organisation, preparation and some brilliant recruitment, plus an infectious enthusiasm which has united the whole city - and large parts of the county - behind the club.

There was interest in the Cowleys in the summer from Championship clubs and I'm sure there'll be more interest this season and next summer.

But while they think they can take the club forward, there'll have a reason to stay. Plus, they like the area and have moved their families up to the city.

They will move on at some point but given the reputation they have built they can afford to bide their time and pick the right club.

The key will be whether Lincoln can keep pace off the pitch with the remarkable progress on it. If they can, they will have a better chance of keeping the Cowleys for longer.

Q: What system and style of play does Cowley favour?

MW: For the first two seasons under the Cowleys, they were quite direct - and it worked a treat.

But as the club has progressed, they've been able to add more quality and, as a result, have played more attractive football.

They played better football last season than they were given credit for, but at home they did sometimes struggle to unlock the defences of sides who got men behind the ball. As as result, there were a lot of home draws last season.

But with the likes of new signings Jack Payne, Jorge Grant and Joe Morrell, they've got players who can unpick defences.

Some of the football they played against Southend on Saturday was breathtaking - some of best seen for years at Sincil Bank.

Q: Who are the danger men?

MW: Summer signing Jack Payne has been impressive so far. He played in the number 10 role behind the central striker which on Saturday will probably be Tyler Walker, another summer signing on loan from Nottingham Forest.

Payne was let go by Huddersfield in the summer after season on loan at Bradford.

He was a key man as Huddersfield won promotion to the Premier League in 2017 and, to me, it looks like he could still do a job in the Championship.

A busy player with and without the ball, he doesn't give defenders a moment's rest.

Winger Harry Anderson, who has just signed a new contract, is one to watch too. A powerful, pacy player with an eye for goal.