Promotion the priority for Rhead as massive FA Cup tie looms for former Stag

Matt Rhead. Picture by Dan Westwell.
Matt Rhead. Picture by Dan Westwell.
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Despite the glamour of tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter-final tie at Arsenal plus the distraction of a two-legged FA Trophy semi-final ahead against York City, former Mansfield Town hit man Matt Rhead admits Lincoln City’s priority remains promotion back to the Football League.

He said, no matter what was achieved in the meantime, there would be no celebrations until the squad had medals hanging round their necks to mark a return to the League after an agonising six-year absence.

Referee Stuart Atwell shows the yellow card to Matt Rhead after clashing with Portsmouth's Johnny Ertl -Pic by: Richard Parkes

Referee Stuart Atwell shows the yellow card to Matt Rhead after clashing with Portsmouth's Johnny Ertl -Pic by: Richard Parkes

“The biggest test of any team in a season is to win the league. We did that at Mansfield,” he said.

“It’s not just a one-off game, you have to play over 40 games.

Click HERE to see Rhead score a stoppage time FA Cup equaliser for Stags at Lincoln in a 3-3 draw

Click HERE to see Rhead’s stunning overhead goal against Barrow

Click HERE to see Rhead head home for Mansfield in a 2-1 win at Cheltenham in December 2013

“That’s our first aim, but if we can give a good account of ourselves at Arsenal that would be a positive.

“We just tick off every game as it comes and thankfully we’ve been on the right side of a lot of results.

“Hopefully we can carry that on over the next two months of the season.

“ The gaffer is good at keeping the lads’ feet on the ground.

“I think he said we could have half-an-hour to celebrate after the Burnley game.

“We are not celebrating until the summer when we’ve got a medal round our necks – that’s the main focus at the minute.

“We want to be a successful team and successful teams win things.”

Were the unthinkable to happen and Lincoln knocked out Arsenal, it would guarantee the Imps a game at Wembley in the semi-finals.

A two-legged FA Trophy semi-final against bottom club York City this month also gives them a golden chance to get there.

And, were they to lose top spot but end up promoted via the play-offs, Rhead knows there is an outside chance he could play at Wembley three times before the summer.

“It would be crazy,” he smiled. “We have York in the next round of the Trophy and if we carry on playing as we have we could get to Wembley.

“And if we can somehow conjure up another miracle in the FA Cup we could be playing at Wembley two or three times this year! It’s a big target and something to aim for.

“But we are not thinking that far ahead. The main thing is to take each game as it comes.”

MATT RHEAD FACTFILE and SNIPPETS

Born: Stoke-on-Trent

Age: 32

Height: 6ft 4ins

Clubs: Norton United, Kidsgrove Athletic, Eastwood Town, Nantwich Town, Congleton Town, Corby Town, Mansfield Town, Lincoln City.

Matt Rhead played 132 times in all competitions for Stags between January 2012 and May 2015, 74 of them off the bench, scoring 16 times.

There was FA Cup agony for Matt Rhead when he scored a hat-trick for Lincoln City in the first round on 8th November 2015, but ended up on the losing side as they lost 5-3 at Whitehawk.

Matt Rhead stunned current club Lincoln while a Mansfield player in an FA Cup second round tie in December 2012 as he came on as a late sub and headed an equaliser in the third added minute of a stunning 3-3 draw. Mansfield won the replay and went on to face Liverpool.

Lincoln City have enjoyed the best of Matt Rhead’s goalscoring, the big striker netting 36 times in 80 games.

With their FA Cup and FA Trophy runs, Lincoln have already played 44 times this season with another 15 definite and 18 possible games to go

Lincoln City 2016/17 FA Cup so far

4th Qual rd: Guisley (H) 0-0. Replay (A) 2-1.

Rd 1: Altrincham (H) 2-1.

Rd 2: Oldham Athletic (H) 3-2.

Rd 3: Ipswich Town (A) 2-2. Replay (H) 1-0.

Rd 4: Brighton & Hove Albion (H) 3-1.

Rd 5: Burnley (A) 1-0.