Lincoln City’s long and historic FA Cup run finally came to an end this evening in front of a sell-out crowd at the Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal.
Manager Danny Cowley has led the Imps on a fantastic journey, and has battled against the odds time and time again. This evening was just a step too far for the National League side who were playing one of the best football teams in the country.
In the end the class of Arsenal shone through. They respected the Imps enough to field a full first team, and those players showed their quality. Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez all scored. They may have killed the game, but they couldn’t kill the spirit of the Lincoln players. In the end despite the 5-0 scoreline, Arsenal applauded the Lincoln fans and players. Beaten? Yes. Defeated? No.
The cup run has seen Lincoln City make a lot of friends, but it has also helped generate a lot of revenue that will go towards building a stronger club for years to come. March 11th 2017 will be a day that Lincoln City fans will still be talking about in 100 years time.
A brave FA Cup journey
Just under 9,000 Lincoln fans witnessed the end of the FA Cup run, but the record breaking campaign began inauspiciously in front of 2,600. The 4th qualifying round brought Lincoln a 0-0 draw against Guiseley, and just 177 Lincoln fans travelled away for the replay, witnessing a 2-1 victory.
National League North side Altrincham were visitors to Sincil Bank in the first round proper, and they too put up a strong resistance. Goals from Sean Raggett and Alan Power put the hosts ahead, and they hung on despite a late scare to win 2-1. Their reward was a home tie with League One Oldham and that is where the journey truly began.
In front of the TV cameras and a bumper home crowd, City registered a fine 3-2 win already knowing their reward would be a trip to Ipswich. Theo Robinson was again the goal hero, scoring twice.
The invasion of Ipswich saw Lincoln fans set a new record for visiting supporters at Portman Road, and the 5,000 Imps fans were not disappointed. Twice Lincoln led through Theo Robinson, only to be pegged back twice by Ipswich’s Tom Lawrence. The event was made more memorable by the ‘impvasion’ hashtag that trended number one in the country for a short while. Lincoln City began to make national headlines, and they haven’t stopped since.
The 2-2 draw meant a replay ten days later, again screened live but this time on the BBC. Nathan Arnold settled a tight game in the final minutes, meaning Lincoln would appear in the FA Cup fourth round for the first time since 1976.
Championship high-flyers Brighton were expected to end our brave run, but they under-estimated Danny Cowley’s team. They fielded an inexperienced blend of youth and reserve team players that were not a match for the organised and well-prepared Lincoln side. The only surprise in the 3-1 win was that Lincoln did not add more.
Records continued to fall as the name of Lincoln City went into the fifth round draw for the first time in over 100 years. A trip to Premier League side Burnley that came up next, a just and fitting reward for such a fine run.
The odds were stacked against Lincoln, but once again they wrote a page of history. Sean Raggett’s 90th minute winner meant a non-league club would be into the Quarter Finals for the first time in modern history. Club records had been falling since round three, but this was the pinnacle: the first ever Lincoln appearance in the last eight.
It was Arsenal who finally ended the wonderful FA Cup adventure in front of 60,000 supporters. In the end the undoubted talent of world class opposition proved too much for the Imps, but there was no disgrace in defeat.
The whole city behind the Imps
— The Lincolnite (@thelincolnite) March 11, 2017
— The Lincolnite (@thelincolnite) March 10, 2017