Lincoln City are in a false position in League One, says Cambridge United boss Mark Bonner
Cambridge United head coach Mark Bonner feels that Lincoln City are in a false position in the Sky Bet League One table.
The Imps have been in the lower reaches of the table all season - they are currently in 16th place, after wins over high-flying Oxford United and Sunderland gave them some breathing space from the drop zone.
However, Michael Appleton’s side caught the eye in September when they beat the U’s 5-1 at the Abbey.
“There is no doubt that their league position has been a false one,” said Bonner. “We saw first hand the level of quality of their team when they came to us earlier in the season.
“They’ve got goals in their team, they’ve had some injuries to key players. It’s actually been very, very few occasions - if any - that they’ve been able to get their best XI on the pitch apart from at our game.
“They had a break for 10 days going into that game, and it enabled them to get players fit and be at full strength when they came to us.
“Since then, they’ve had so many ins and outs with injuries, it’s been really chop and change. They’ve been a little bit barebones at times, but they are adding in this window. They have added so far, and they will add more I’m sure before the weekend.
“They are starting to look strong, and they’ve had two excellent results in the last two games, at Oxford and at Sunderland.
“They are certainly coming into this in really good form in recent times. The table looks much brighter for them now than it did a week ago.
“I’m sure they will come into the game enthused and energised to try to continue that to try to get a third consecutive win.
“We go into it likewise with a similar situation, albeit from cup games, but with a similar sort of mindset. It’s probably got the makings for a good game.”
Bonner highlighted the attacking threats posed by Lincoln, who he feels may take the initiative of being at home to get on the front foot from the off.
But he believes that United can cause problems of their own.
“Chris Maguire is in good form having scored a hat-trick on Tuesday,” said Bonner.
“Morgan Whittaker, the boy they’ve signed from Swansea, is an exceptional wide player, really strong, really fast, really athletic and can finish well. We saw what Scully is all about when he played last time.
“Adelakun, Ted Bishop, Fiorini, McGrandles, Sorensen, they’ve got lots of options and lots of attacking intent in their team and we will have to make sure that defensively we’re excellent but we’re going to have to use the ball well.
“They can be a team that can be hard to create chances against. They are a little bit makeshift in their back four at the moment with injuries, and we have to try to make sure we go and force the issue ourselves and give them some problems to defend against.”
United are about to embark on a hectic run of games between now and February 1, with five league matches and one cup game, against Rotherham United in the Papa John’s Trophy.
The fixtures in the league are against teams in and around them in the table - Lincoln, Doncaster Rovers, Crewe Alexandra, Fleetwood and Bolton Wanderers.
“We know that the next run of games is quite intense,” said Bonner.
“We’ve got some big league games coming up, and quite a few games coming up as you look at the next six games are all teams in and around us.
“It creates its own competition but we’ve been competitive with most that we’ve played against and we know the level we can get to and we’re in fairly good form.
“We’ve just got to keep trying to back that up and hitting a really good level to see what the points return can be from that.
“We certainly go into it in good spirit, health and energy, and quite confidently looking forward to the games coming up which is a really important place to be.
“We look a confident team that is quite enjoying the challenge of where we find ourselves so there is no reason why that should change at all.”
United will be hoping to add to the wins over Newcastle United and Portsmouth by making it a hat-trick of successes, and Bonner added: “We’ve obviously had a brilliant week.
“I was very impressed with the players in terms of performance, but massively mentality on Tuesday night because it’s a difficult game to face off the back of Saturday.”