Braintree test for the Imps
THERE was a hush all over Sincil Bank on Thursday's transfer deadline day, with a distinct lack of activity as boss David Holdsworth's infamous revolving door refused to budge one way or another.
Earlier in the week, the City manager released four players in an effort to ease the strain on the finances at the club and talked about his hopes of bringing in an extra body to give the Imps a boost going into a vital February. According to the former Mansfield gaffer, he had to fend off advances for some of his players, with Jamie Taylor the subject of interest, while City rejected an offer from Boston United for striker Bradley Barraclough, a frontman hardly at the forefront of Holdsworth's thoughts. Barraclough also turned down a loan move to United Counties Premier League outfit Holbeach.
With no new players entering from stage left, Holdsworth has to make do with his patched-up squad and takes them to Braintree on Saturday hoping to arrest a slide that has seen the Imps fail to win a match since beating Dartford 4-2 on December 8, a run of eight matches. One win in 12 matches has hardly set the City faithful's pulses pounding and with Lincoln sitting just three points above the drop zone, fears have been heightened again about a possible drop into the Blue Square North.
City's crippling injury crisis shows no sign of abating, with his three key midfielders Alan Power (ankle), Mo Fofana (hamstring) and Gary Mills (knee) all due to be absent again, although on-loan Paul Turnbull is expected to line-up again in the centre of the park alongside fellow loanee Jake Thomson. There could be a return to the starting XI for Adam Smith, who scored his second goal for the club last week in a 2-1 home reverse to Forest Green, while Vadaine Oliver is also pushing for a place and he could come in for young Conner Robinson. who looked off the pace when starting last time out. Jake Jones enjoyed a nice little cameo from the bench and he could be in contention, as could Andrew Boyce, although Holdsworth may opt to stick with Tom Miller and Scott Garner.
Leading scorer Taylor is in dire need of a goal, with just one strike in nine games, while Larkin has failed to hit the onion bag since bagging a hat-trick against Dartford, although he has not been helped by being played out of position on the wing.
As for Braintree, the Iron either win or lose and don't do draws, having gone 15 games without a stalemate and head into this clash on the back of two straight wins, over Telford and Nuneaton, scoring seven goals in the process (they have also hit 11 in their last four) and will relish the prospect of facing a Lincoln defence who leak goals for fun. Bad news for City is that seven-goal striker Sean Marks comes back into the Braintree side after missing their last match, although Dan Walker is a doubt with a hamstring strain, while Kaine Sheppard has joined Histon on loan.
Regular goalkeeper Danny Nasibitt will again be on the bench, with Neil McDonald continuing to deputise between the sticks, as the Iron look to build on their 14th place in the table. They beat City 1-0 the last time the two teams met at their Cressing Road home and are 7-5 to claim the spoils again, with City 23-10.
Make no bones about it, City need to start winning games and quick, but such is their plight at the moment even the most hardened fan would struggle to see where the next victory is coming from and the sooner Holdsworth gets some bodies back the better although it could be squeaky-bum time come the end of the season.