500+ City fans made the jaunt to picturesque Lincoln for the penultimate away game of the season on a glorious sunny day. Paul Tisdale made two changes to the team that beat Wycombe with Steve Tully dropping to the bench for the returning Matt Taylor and Steve Basham missing being replaced in the starting XI by Craig McAllister.
City lined up with the now familiar 3-5-2 formation with Archibald-Henville, Taylor and Edwards at the back, Moxey, Cozic, Gill, Harley and Sercombe in the middle with Fleetwood and McAllister up top.
The first half began at quite a slow pace, both teams enjoying the weather and cancelling each other out. An early long range effort from Kerr was easily held by Jones with a similarly gentle effort from Harley easily gathered by match winner Burch in the Lincoln goal.
Lincoln were the team doing the pressing in the first half, given that they needed 3 points to maintain their distant play-off hopes, this was not a surprise. A few corners were well defended by Jones and the back 3, with Matt Taylor consistently winning all in the air.
N'Guessan was played through down the Lincoln right and inside City's area, Jones came out and gathered well at the second attempt at the edge of the 6 yard area. Better was to come from Jones when he produced a magnificent save from a Hutchinson volley, tipping the shot away from the top corner of the goal. It was just a continuation of the magnificent form he has been in.
It was not all one way, when Exeter managed to attack with width then chances were created. Fleetwood got free down the left but his pull back evaded the incoming players. Sercombe showed how far he has developed this season and was beating the full back and got in some testing crosses. On one overlap Liam hit a thunderous shot into the side netting, that some City fans thought was in.
0-0 at half time was a fair reflection for the lack of good chances for both teams.
The second half began as the first ended with no changes made by either side. However City were looking to get more of a grip on the game. Cozic was industrious and Matt Taylor continued to dominate at the back.
A long ball from Jones was flicked on by McAllister and Fleetwood outpaced the defender was through on goal in a central position. As Burch came out to narrow the angle Fleetwood went for the lob and the ball agonisingly went over the bar.
A corner saw the ball pinging around the Lincoln area with last ditch challenges and bodies flying in. The ball eventually fell to McAllister who from 10 yards had his tame shot cleared off the line. This was followed up by a cross that McAllister did well to direct but again it was over the bar. A deep cross found Fleetwood at the far post in almost an identical situation to Gill vs Wycombe, but rather than shoot first time, Fleetwood took a touch and the defender cleared.
Logan came on for the ever improving and impressive Sercombe and City switched to the three prong attack that proved successful on Easter Monday. Almost immediately Logan hit the post with a header from a cross, but it would not have counted since the referee spotted some pushing. At this point there was only one team looking to win the game, but clear chances were hard to muster.
Lincoln were restricted to long range efforts thanks to some excellent defending from Archibald-Henville, Taylor and Edwards.
So with just seconds remaining the City fans were 'Happy as Larry' again. A Moxey cross or shot, the debate is open, came in from what was in all honesty a poor angle, but it was in the danger area. It evaded all the players in the box but Burch saw it was swinging near his right hand far post so moved to cover the danger. The ball hit the post and was met by a series of 'oooh' from the away hordes, before the rebound hit the back of the unfortunate 'keeper and looping agonisingly into the back of the net.
500+ people in the away end went mad and City held on for the 1-0 win. It was fortunate and at times it was not as pretty as we are used to seeing, but at this stage of the season and with everyone around us in the table winning, it is all about results, and this was a big one.
Overall the impressive performers were Cozic, Taylor and Jones. Taylor's performance was probably the most impressive, 5 weeks after breaking his foot, last seasons 'Player of the Year' showed why he won that award. He was effortless in his control of the defence and the Lincoln forwards. He provides a level of assurance to the team that is so important, he can certainly make the step up to the next level.
Next week sees the final game of the season, and the team that beat us at Wembley. Morecambe are themselves still in with a chance of a play-off position, but this could be affected on Tuesday. All fans have most certainly worked out that if Bury (4th) lose to Gillingham (5th) and City win then that is it, promotion. If Wycombe lose on Tuesday to Luton, again away at Port Vale and City win then again, that is it.
There are a lot of what ifs, but there is only one really important result, and that is the one at St James' Park. So where would you rather be?