Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley believes that their impressive performances show the “undoubted potential” at the Vanarama National League club.
The Imps currently sit in second place in the National League table, just a point behind leaders Tranmere Rovers, although Cowley’s side hold a game in hand over the Merseyside outfit.
Their impressive league form has spilled over into the FA Cup, with Monday night’s giantkilling of SkyBet League One side Oldham Athletic.
The BT Sport cameras were on hand to witness the Imps make a mockery of a two division difference between the two sides, as over 7,000 supporters crammed inside Sincil Bank on, what Cowley called “a great night for us all”.
Now he has set his sights on making more great memories for the club’s supporters.
He said “It was surreal getting out there and seeing 7,000 inside the stadium.
“Surreal, but amazing and it makes you proud to see the city getting behind the club in that way.
“It was a great night for us and obviously for me and Nicky (his brother and assistant) it was all a bit new. At Concord Rangers, to get to the First Round, was always a dream.
“Now to be in the Third Round of the FA Cup is special, very special. We were desperate to get there and we showed what this club is all about.
“There is undoubted potential here and we have to keep trying to improve from this point”
Their prize for reaching the Third Round is an away tie at Championship club Ipswich Town.
Whilst some supporters may be disappointed at missing out on a glamour tie against the Premier League’s elite, Cowley is relishing the opportunity to take on the Tractor Boys.
And he believes that the game can have long-term benefits for his side.
“Ipswich Town are a big club, a very big club.
“We have family in Chelmsford and they are Ipswich supporters so that add a special feel to the game.
“But going up against Mick McCarthy, with all of his experience, will be a great challenge for us.
“This gives us a new challenge, a big test and it will help us to improve how organise ourselves, to see just how good we are.
“The game, whatever happens, will help us for the rest of the season and beyond”
Cowley produced one of the stories of last season’s National League, as he led Braintree Town to a historic third place finish in the table, with only champions Cheltenham Town and Forest Green Rovers bettering their eighty one points.
Play-off disappointment came as they lost over two legs to eventual play-off winners Grimsby Town.
The third place finish further enhanced the Cowleys’ growing reputation, leading to speculation that Football League clubs were interested in securing their undoubted talent.
It was National League rivals Lincoln City that offered the duo the chance to use their methods in the full-time game, a chance that was too good to turn down.
Since taking over at Sincil Bank, the club’s rise has been impressive.
With the season approaching the half way point the Imps are firmly in the promotion chase and Cowley has made some smart additions to his squad.
Rather than taking the credit for the improvement in performances and results at the club, he passed it on to the players for buying into the methods that he uses on a day-to-day basis.
“We are demanding, we expect hard work and it’s not easy for players.
“Not every player will appreciate it and not every player will be able to manage with what we ask so we have had to be careful with the players we have brought in.
“We wanted to do well, we were focused and we were confident that we could do well.
“But it’s safe to say it is beyond our expectations. To be where we are in the league, where we are in the cup and be fourteen games unbeaten is fantastic.
“The players need the credit though, not us, they have bought into what we do and what we ask, they have got us where we are”
That attitude will not be a surprise for anyone that has spoken to Cowley.
Fiercely passionate about the game but also realistic about the job in hand, his work at Lincoln City will no doubt continue to impress clubs higher up the league pyramid.
He doesn’t shy away from admitting that he wants to work in the Football League and believes that it is possible to do so with the Imps.
However in order to do so they have to get over the “biggest hurdle” of securing promotion out of the National League.
He said “The aim for us as a managerial team is to go as high as possible.
“The simple fact is that Lincoln City are still a non-league club for now, that is our status.
“We would love to get into the Football League and we are working very hard as a club to make that happen.
“We don’t deserve it, you have to earn it.
“It is the biggest hurdle to get out of the league because, as results in the FA Cup show this season, there are a lot of good sides in this division.
“We respect them. We respect teams like Forest Green Rovers, Tranmere, Barrow, everyone in the league.
“We respect every single side in this league and we know we are nowhere near where we want to be.
“If we want to get there we have to work hard, it won’t come easy”
Interview: Mark Carruthers (marknldaily)