National League high-flyers Lincoln City sit proudly at the top of the National League table as this post is being written. But can anybody actually catch them?
How have Lincoln been performing in recent games?
Excluding FA Cup games, Lincoln have been, since the 24th of January, under-performing. A humiliating 3-0 loss to Barrow on the 24th left questions to be asked, but perhaps Lincoln were resting their best squad to play Brighton in the FA Cup...
The game against Brighton ended in a 3-1 victory for Lincoln - qualifying them for the round of 16. But that's another story...
In the fixtures following the cup-set, Lincoln were scraping victories against weaker teams at the other end of the table. These include a 1-0 over Solihull Moors, a 3-2 over Woking and a 1-0 over North Ferriby. After this, Lincoln were beginning to drop points; first, with a 1-1 draw against relegation-fighting York City and a goalless draw at a strong Aldershot Town.
How have teams around Lincoln been performing?
Teams hoping to secure automatic promotion include Forest Green Rovers, Tranmere Rovers and Dagenham and Redbridge.
Forest Green have been performing well recently, with a 3-0 win over Macclesfield - a team hoping for a playoff position - on the 4th of March (yesterday at the time of writing). They also fought a tight battle with Woking and managed to win by the skin of their teeth; 4-3 was the final score.
Tranmere have won their last three league games - 2-0 at Eastleigh, 2-1 over Boreham Wood and 3-2 against local rivals Chester. Although they have the best defence in the league, Tranmere just can't seem to find the net as often as other teams.
Dagenham and Redbridge, on the other hand, have lost their last two games; 2-0 to lower-down-the-table Maidstone and 1-0 to playoff-hopefuls Gateshead. Perhaps D&R are out of the automatic promotion fight? Maybe John Still's men could find some form? Who knows? It wouldn't be easy to climb back into the fight; FGR and Tranmere have games in hand over them.
Lincoln City - 33 games played, 69 pts. Goal difference is 31.
Forest Green Rovers - 34 games played, 66 pts. Goal difference is 29.
Tranmere Rovers - 33 games played, 66 pts. Goal difference is 21.
Dagenham & Redbridge - 35 games played, 64 pts. Goal difference is 19.
So are Lincoln actually guaranteed automatic promotion?
Although it is still likely, if they drop points then Forest Green and Tranmere, two in-form sides, could capitalise. The league is unpredictable, however. It's all to play for at the top of the National League.