A five-star performance from Lincoln City against 10-man Darlington has all but ensured their status as a Blue Square Premier side.
Two goals apiece from Jefferson Louis and Danny Lloyd, as well as an effort from Jamie Taylor helped Lincoln forge a seven point gap ahead of Hayes and Yeading, who currently occupy the final relegation zone spot.
Darlington, however, seem destined for the Blue Square North, with an almost insurmountable 11 point deficit. They would have gone down today, but they were granted a stay of execution when the match between Tamworth and A.F.C Telford was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch.
Danny Lloyd was the star of the show on his first start for Lincoln, scoring after just 21 minutes. Darlington keeper, Jordan Pickford parried the ball out to Lloyd’s feet following a Jamie Taylor effort. Lloyd was left with a simple tap in to help the Imps find their feet following a previously shaky start.
Just after the half an hour mark, Alan Power provided the cross that allowed Taylor to nod home and double Lincoln’s lead. His powerful header proving that Lincoln were taking a real stranglehold of the game.
They provided no respite for the struggling visitors though, as it was 3-0 just minutes later. Alan Power again provided the assist, but this time it was Louis who found the back of the net with a header, for his first of the game.
The relentless first half assault by the Imps continued, when two minutes later Lloyd doubled his tally after a stroke of fortune. The young winger found himself with the ball at his feet 25-yards from goal, and opted for goal. His strike caught his marker, which helped it loop over Pickford in the goal.
For the fourth time in the opening interval, the Darlington goalkeeper was forced to pick the ball out of his net, and bear the brunt of the jubilant home crowd.
Before the half was over though, the situation got even worse for the visitors when Paul Johnson was sent off, when the referee deemed him to be the last man after he felled Louis on the edge of the box.
For the first time in over six years though, Lincoln went in at half time sitting on a four goal cushion.
The second half was much more sedate in comparison to the frenzy of the opening period. Only one more notch was added to the score tally though.
On 75 minutes, Louis scored his second header of the game, following some slick passing between Jake Sheridan and Paul Robson on the right flank. The resulting cross was placed almost inch perfectly onto the striker’s head, leaving Pickford with the unenviable task of returning the ball to the centre circle for the fifth time of the game.
The referees final whistle was greeted with the cheers of fans that you have thought had won the league. Instead though, Lincoln move up to 17th in the table, but with only three games of the season remaining, it seems like only a mathematical possibility that they won’t be lining up in the same league next season.
Their next fixture comes on Friday evening, when they take on the champions-elect, Fleetwood Town.