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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 07:00 GMT 08:00 UK
Alexander's rag-time bandwagon rolls on
By Pete Oliver

Lincoln boss Keith Alexander
Alexander's task ranks with any manager's this season
Lincoln City's unsung manager Keith Alexander missed out when it came to handing out the managerial accolades.

Alongside Third Division manager of the year Brian Talbot, and the likes of David Moyes, Harry Redknapp and Paul Jewell, Alexander's achievement of taking the Imps into the play-offs ranks highly.

Alexander took over at a club that had finshed two places off the bottom of the Nationwide League and was working its way out of administration.

I was manager here 10 years ago but didn't have long enough to do the job
Imps boss Keith Alexander

Most of his senior players had to be sacrificed to cut costs, leaving Alexander to trade in the bargain basement of non-league football.

Alexander recruited eight players from non-league, including defender Ben Futcher who ended the regular season as the club's top league scorer.

Futcher started at Oldham, and spent last season at Stalybridge Celtic and Doncaster.

Former Grimsby, Stockport and Lincoln striker Alexander delved even lower into the UniBond League to recruit four more of his players.

Winger Chris Cornelly trained one day a week while continuing with his day-job in a security firm.

Alexander took the plunge on striker Simon Yeo, a regular scorer down the years for Hyde United but who made his living as a postman and a soldier.

That faith was justified when Yeo, 29, scored the dramatic late goal that took Lincoln into the play-offs and then two more to help see off Scunthorpe in the semi-finals.

Lincoln striker Simon Yeo
Simon Yeo was plucked out of non-league football

Alexander said: "I had been in non-league and I know there are good players out there.

"A lot of them have had backgrounds at league clubs as YTS players and they know what it means to be a footballer.

"When I brought Simon here he knew he would never get another chance. It's the same for the others."

Like his players, Alexander has done things the hard way.

Alexander is in his second spell at Sincil Bank, after being in charge at Ilkeston and Northwich Victoria.

The Imps boss said: "I was manager here 10 years ago but didn't have long enough to do the job.

Lincoln strker Ben Futcher
Ben Futcher has proved a shrewd signing

"So to come back through non-league and prove people wrong is satisfying for myself, my family and everyone around me."

Now Alexander prepares to take his side to the Millennium Stadium to face Bournemouth, with the prospect of a berth in the Second Division for only the second time since the Imps returned from the Conference in 1988.

Alexander said: "This is the biggest test, Bournemouth are probably one of the sides that should have gone up automatically.

"Along with Wrexham they were the best footballing side in the division.

"I'm a little bit biased because I've been involved with it on a day-to-day basis, but it has been unbelievable.

"The players have been outstanding since day one and deserve every credit.

"But it can go either way, and if we do lose we will just have to come back again next year and win it."




VOTE RESULTS
Who will win the Division Three play-off final in Cardiff?
Bournemouth
 69.29% 
Lincoln City
 30.71% 
2540 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


LINCOLN CITY

BOURNEMOUTH

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