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What a difference a month has made for Lincoln City

Steve Tilson
Steve Tilson's Lincoln doubled their League Two points tally in a month

By Michael Hortin
BBC Lincolnshire sports editor

Unless you are a supporter of Lincoln City or interested in League Two, you could be forgiven for missing one of the more dramatic turns in form this season.

Following their 2-1 defeat by Wycombe on 15 January, the Imps were bottom of the Football League with just 19 points from 21 games.

Eight matches and exactly one month later, after a 2-2 draw at Aldershot on 15 February, Lincoln found themselves 13th in League Two and closer to the play-offs than the bottom of the table.

To underline the point, in those eight matches City won six and drew one and picked up 19 points to double their tally.

The reasons for their success obviously include manager Steve Tilson and his coaching staff and players, but first it is only right to focus on the club's board.

City pride themselves on running a tight ship. However, aware of the peril the Imps were in, directors dug deep to back the manager with a succession of loan signings, bringing Ashley Grimes, Gavin Hoyte, Stephen Hunt, Julian Kelly and Trevor Carson to Sincil Bank.

Signings, though, are no guarantee of success and Tilson and his staff have done well to integrate the new players.

In fact, the remarkable thing has been that to varying degrees, all of the loanees have played some part in City's run.

Two of the signings in particular are worth a mention on their own - goalkeeper Carson and striker Grimes.

For me, it is no coincidence that the Imps' recent run started when Carson arrived from Sunderland.

Now the inevitable question that I get asked is 'Can the Imps make the play-offs?'

Michael Hortin

While the man he replaced in goal, Joe Anyon, clearly has talent, he was enduring a difficult time and his absence because of illness provided an opportunity for Carson.

He has come in and performed to the highest level and provided composure and a presence for Tilson's team.

As for Millwall's Grimes, his 12 goals so far have had a major impact and surely put his contribution on a par with last season's stand-out loanee, Davide Somma. And with Grimes' loan running for the rest of the season he could play an even more telling role.

The final contributing factor, for me, has been the leadership of Delroy Facey.

Made captain by Tilson, the Grenada international striker has played a visible role as one of the most experienced players in the squad, bringing the players closer together.

Before Lincoln's match at Stockport, the first of the eight-game run, I was interviewed for Late Kick Off and was uncharacteristically pessimistic about the Imps' prospects for the rest of the campaign, which was upsetting and surprising to some.

So the dramatic upturn overseen by Tilson has been something of a surprise, but all the more enjoyable for that.

Now the inevitable question that I get asked is 'Can the Imps make the play-offs?'

After the dramatic turn in fortunes who knows? At the moment though I, like Tilson, would take League Two safety first before worrying about anything else.

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see also
Aldershot 2-2 Lincoln City
15 Feb 11 |  League Two
Tilson eager to keep Imps loanees
11 Feb 11 |  Lincoln
Lincoln City 1-2 Wycombe
15 Jan 11 |  League Two

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