Lincoln on a high ahead of Mansfield Town derby visit

Stags' Tyler Walker tries to defend his teammate Callum Butcher from Imps' Michael O'Connor as tempers rise in Mansfield's win at Lincoln in the Checkatrade Trophy in September.
Stags' Tyler Walker tries to defend his teammate Callum Butcher from Imps' Michael O'Connor as tempers rise in Mansfield's win at Lincoln in the Checkatrade Trophy in September.

Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley is fighting a losing battle to prevent fans’ expectations shooting through the roof after a fine start to the season.

Mansfield Town head for Sincil Bank on Saturday (1pm), backed by an army of almost 1,700 fans, but know it will be a tough ask to extend their unbeaten away run to 13 games.

After reaching the play-offs last season, hopes were very high at Lincoln that they could mount a challenge for the top three this time around and City and MK are the only teams that have shown any real consistency so far.

There have been a couple of setbacks and they haven’t been at their best defensively in recent weeks with no clean sheets in eight games.

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That’s something they’ve been working hard on ahead of Mansfield.

But they genuinely bounce back from poor results quickly.

The Cowleys are god-like figures in Lincoln, not just among fans but in the city. They just keep meeting and surpassing expectations.

Danny’s expectations are also high and he recently had a pop at the club after an operational error led to the pitch not being watered before a game.

Some fans start getting twitchy every time a Championship job comes up but they are expected to stick around for another couple of years at least.

In the summer they moved their wives and kids up to the city so they’re settled in the area.

There’ll probably move onto bigger and better things at some point but while they still feel they can take the club forward, will probably stay put.

And despite all the success of the last couple of years, there’s still plenty of room for growth and there are some big-hitters on the board now who, like the Cowleys, are determined not to stand still.

After a weekend off, the Imps should be fully fit and refreshed and midfielder and captain Lee Frecklington (illness) and right-back Neal Eardley (calf) are training again.

Centre-back Michael Bostwick has been playing with a quad problem and the club are being careful with him, but he very rarely misses a game and should be fine to face the Stags. It’s the kind of spicy game he relishes.

Bruno Andrade has been their star man this season. He arrived from Boreham Wood in the summer and has been outstanding down the left wing.

Bigger clubs may well come sniffing in January.

He’s got skills to pay the bills and is also mates with Raheem Sterling from their days together at QPR.

The Imps’ top scorer is record signing John Akinde, who joined from Barnet in the summer.

He’s polarised opinion among fans as some reckon he doesn’t work hard enough. That said, he’s been involved in more goals than any other player, whether scoring or creating.

Also in form is Shay McCartan, a very tricky number 10 who can make things happen out of nothing. Unplayable on his day, he is on loan from Bradford.

Ex-Stags stars Matt Rhead and Matt Green have been warming the bench this season, especially Green, who has barely had a look-in.

It will be interesting to see what happens with him in January.