After 46 matches, a run of one win in eight games, play-off talk and a six-match unbeaten streak towards the end of the campaign, Lincoln City finished 14th in the Skrill Premier.
After a strong start to the season, the Imps had periods where they struggled for form and questions were asked after Skrill North side North Ferriby United thumped them 4-0 at the Gelder Group Sincil Bank Stadium in the FA Trophy.
With survival ensured weeks before the end of the season, Gary Simpson’s men could have even finished as high as 9th, leapfrogging one-time play-off hopefuls Alfreton Town. The Linc spoke to both Simpson and defender Sean Newton as they look back at another season of rebuilding.
The Imps began the season with just one defeat in six, but after a run of five games without a win and another spell where they failed to secure a victory in seven matches around Christmas, top-five talk dropped as the club lingered in mid-table.
“We started really well then we had two months or eight to ten weeks where we couldn’t pick up a point and we couldn’t get a win. But then from then on we’ve been a different class, took on everyone and in the games we’ve lost we’ve been unlucky. We’ve won so many. When I look back I think it’s more frustrating than anything because we should be in the play-offs definitely,” said Newton.
Manager Simpson agrees, and added: “I don’t know whether the board would [be satisfied with the league position], but we’re a bit disappointed. We thought we could have finished a little bit higher, but we had a bad couple of months. But we have taken 38 points since January 1st, so we haven’t done too badly when we got everyone back and added one or two to the squad.
Over the summer, players such as Ben Tomlinson, Waide Fairhurst and Newton put pen to paper to sign for the Imps. The left-back believes that while the current crop have done well, there is still room for improvement.
“Most definitely [an opportunity to build going forward], you can see from January 1st to now, I think we’d be second or top of the league. We’ve definitely got a good squad to go on with maybe one or two additions to make us better in other areas, then I think we’ll have a go next year,” he said.
While discussing his recruits, Simpson described many of his more successful players as “top drawer”. He added: “With what we’ve had and what we could afford, I think we’ve done OK. We’ve had to work hard, there’s no two ways about it and my staff have worked tremendously hard.”
Final league position and the future
After a 5-1 win away at Hyde made sure of survival on the final day of last season, the Imps’ heads were above the water long before the end of the campaign. Simpson acknowledges the progress they’ve made after finishing 16th last term, but knows “a summer of work” is needed.
He said: “I think we’ve progressed a fair way. I don’t think we’ve been that far away [from the top end of the league], but it depends now how we can progress again and that’s the thing, can we progress in the summer?”
Newton added: “When I came here at the start of the season with the players we had, I had in my mindset that we would get in the play-offs so next season if we don’t get in the play-offs it’ll be disappointing.”Tweet