Lincoln promoted to League Two

Hawkridge had scored just once in the league this season before netting his promotion-sealing double against Macclesfield

Lincoln City sealed their return to the English Football League after a six-year absence, thanks to Terry Hawkridge's brace against Macclesfield.

Moments after Lincoln's Matt Rhead headed against the post, Mitch Hancox's dipping shot put the Silkmen ahead.

But Hawkridge responded, pouncing on a loose ball after Scott Flinders failed to hold Lee Angol's initial shot.

Paul Farman made two crucial second-half saves before Hawkridge's second assured the National League title.

The winger's low curled finish into the far corner delivered Lincoln their first league crown since winning the same competition in 1988.

And it came with huge relief, after Imps goalkeeper Farman kept Chris Holroyd's acrobatic effort out before foiling Hancox from close range. Oliver Norburn may even have spoiled the party in stoppage time had he not guided a superb headed chance wide.

Promotion caps off a truly remarkable season for the Imps, juggling National League title ambitions with an FA Cup run which saw them become the first non-league side to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 103 years.

While they were dumped out of the Cup by Premier League side Arsenal, and their exit from the FA Trophy followed seven days later in March, that disappointment failed to affect their promotion hopes.

Twelve games in six weeks have since followed the end of their FA Cup adventure, culminating with victory in front of a packed Sincil Bank crowd of 10,031 - of which just 97 were Macclesfield supporters - to confirm their status as an EFL club for 2017-18.

How they got there

For five of their six seasons outside the Football League, Lincoln found themselves parked in mid-table mediocrity.

Last term they finished 13th - their previous best effort since dropping into the fifth tier in 2011 - under Chris Moyses, who split his managerial workload with running his own business.

Come May 2016, Danny Cowley arrived with brother and assistant Nicky, taking up his first full-time managerial job having led part-time Braintree to the play-offs while combing his work at the Iron with his career as a PE teacher.

Two wins at the beginning of the season were followed by two losses, leaving Lincoln 14th in the table.

That, however, was a momentary dip as five successive victories later and they were top, where they have remained for much of the campaign.

To the very end they fought to restore themselves to the fourth tier, completing their third comeback win in eight days to seal promotion.

BBC

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