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Saturday 27 May 2017

Imps' fire-power aimed at Gunners

Possible quarter-final away to Arsenal reward for Lincoln

Lincoln’s Irish player Alan Power (r) and Alex Woodyard celebrate after their shock success.
Lincoln’s Irish player Alan Power (r) and Alex Woodyard celebrate after their shock success.

The Irishman at the heart of Lincoln City's remarkable FA Cup run feels there are more stories to come from the Conference side.

The non-league team earned a place in the quarter-final draw of the FA Cup thanks to Saturday's win away to Premier League side Burnley, the Clarets joining Brighton and Ipswich on the list of scalps collected by the Imps of Lincoln this season.

Their reward is a tie away to the winners of tonight's tie between Sutton United and Arsenal.

The Gunners will, of course, expect to come through that test, but in a season of upsets in the Cup would anyone bet the farm on Arsenal away to a non-league side on a tricky pitch?

Lincoln's win away to Burnley was just another of the weekend upsets, as Millwall beat the reigning Premier League champions while Manchester City were held and forced into a replay by Huddersfield Town.

It's a trek of 120 miles from Lincoln's base to the Emirates - presuming Arsenal don't slip up against non-leaguers Sutton - but Dubliner Alan Power would expect a large travelling support.

"I have never experienced anything like this in my career and we have the next round to look forward to as well. It will be special to see how many fans we get for the next one," said Crumlin lad Power.

Fantastic

"It's just so fantastic. Even before this game we were saying we don't realise how far we have come and what we have done.

"But we have shown with a performance like that we are capable of beating anyone. It was fairly tough at times, but we held our own and we fought back against a Premier League team. All those lads out there showed how good they can be and they deserved their success."

Before his side faced Burnley on Saturday, Power (29) told the Herald that their Premier League opponents were not taking the men from the Conference lightly.

"The fact that they only gave us 3,200 tickets for the game, when we could have brought more, shows that they are not going to give us an easy ride," Power said.

Burnley fielded a weakened side but the big-spending Clarets were still ondone by the non-league side, a day of shame for Burnley midfielder Joey Barton who was caught on camera clearing simulating what looked like a life-threatening injury when he had merely felt the rush of fresh air while battling with an opponent.

Barton was roundly mocked for his action but ex-Nottingham Forest lad Power, who is now in his seventh successive season in non-league football in England, defended Barton.

"It was a tough battle in the middle of the park and there was a coming together with Joey, but it was nothing serious," Power told the Lincolnshire Echo.

"In fact, Joey Barton is quite a nice fella. I will probably wreck his public persona now because he's actually a lovely man.

Generous

"He is not as hard as he comes across but he was fairly generous after the game and came across to say well done and that City deserved the game. In fact, there were a lot of the Burnley players that did that."

The Lincoln players can relax and enjoy tonight's game between Sutton and Arsenal and await their fate but for assistant manager Nicky Cowley, promotion back to the Football League is key.

"The league is a life changer for us all," assistant manager Cowley told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.

"We would like to be football league challengers come May."

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