JON STEAD is backing Town to win in his absence at Lincoln and take their Division III play-off surge to another level.
The 20-year-old frontman misses his first match of the season because of a five-booking one-match ban at Sincil Bank, where Peter Jackson's side are hunting a sixth successive win.
It means goalkeeper Ian Gray will be Town's only ever-present and that they go into a tricky test without their most potent nine-goal weapon.
"I'm disappointed to sit out any match, but especially when we are really turning it up and starting to play well," said Stead today.
"I'm gutted to be missing the match when we are on such a good run, but I know the lads are keen to put another three points on the board before we go down to Yeovil next Tuesday.
"It is fantastic to see us in sixth place, but it's not a surprise because we are good enough to be right up there and I know the lads are keen to keep our run going."
It is the first time for seven months that Stead won't be in the Town starting line-up, and he added: "We deserve to be doing well because of all the hard work which is being put in.
"Saturday was a very solid team performance against one of the better sides in the division - and what a strike by Tony Carss to win it. I don't think I've ever seen one better."
Town coach Terry Yorath says the team will miss Stead, not just for his goalscoring ability, but for his defensive work both in open play and at set-pieces, which are a feature of Lincoln's gameplan.
"Lincoln is not the most charismatic of places to go because of the way they like to get the ball forward quickly, so going there without Steady is not the best thing in the world," said Yorath.
"We have tended to struggle this season against teams who like to get the ball forward quickly and who are dangerous at set pieces, so there are things which we've got to work on.
"The main thing is to try and stop their defenders knocking balls up early. We can't stop the keeper kicking it long, but we can try and close down everyone else on the pitch and make it hard."
Town are hoping that skipper Rob Edwards will be able to return to light training later this week following his hip operation while young David Mirfin (hip) will also have to wait another couple of days to train after missing the 1-0 win against Torquay.
Centre-back Steve Yates missed a second successive day of training today because of a stiff hamstring, while the suspended Ian Hughes (hamstring) continues to work under the supervision of physio Lee Martin.
The Lincoln match is all-ticket for Town fans and these remain on sale at the McAlpine.
Prices are £15 for adults, £10 for senior citizens and £5 for juniors and Town fans will be seated down the side of the Sincil Bank pitch.
TOWN'S 10 BEST McALPINE GOALS... EVER!
TONY CARSS' late winner against Torquay on Saturday was described by our Town correspondent Mel Booth as "the best goal ever scored at the McAlpine."
Here he lists some of Town's other `wonder' goal contenders ...
1) PAUL REID v LEYTON ORIENT '94 "Reid hammered a stunning last-gasp winner as terrific Town brought the house down in a heart-stopping finale."
2) ANDY BOOTH v ROTHERHAM '94 "Reid, showing tremendous awareness, spotted Booth striding towards the box and headed across invitingly for Booth to thrash an unstoppable volley into the top corner."
3) JON DYSON v PLYMOUTH '95 "Sharp-shooting Dyson did his best to remove the net from the woodwork with a blistering 25 yard drive which the keeper struggled to see on the action replay."
4) DARREN BULLOCK v LEICESTER '95 "Bullock met a Booth knockdown on the edge of the box and fired a sensational volley low into the corner."
5) PAUL DALTON v STOKE '97 "Stoke keeper Carl Muggleton had gone up for an equaliser when the ball broke to Dalton, racing towards goal - all hell broke loose as he curled the ball in."
6) DAVE PHILLIPS v OXFORD '98 "A 29th minute volley which has been threatening to bring success for weeks for the classy No 5."
7) BEN THORNLEY v WOLVES '98 "A superbly taken lobbed first goal of the campaign capped a breathless finale with 93mins and 40secs on the clock."
8) CLYDE WIJNHARD v PALACE '99 "On 63 mins his hat-trick goal brought the house down - a spectacular bicycle kick rifling into the roof of the net."
9) MARCUS STEWART v IPSWICH '99 "Just when Town needed a touch of genius to kill off the game, Stewart proved that while form may ebb and flow, class is permanent."
10) DANNY SCHOFIELD v BLACKPOOL '02 "He shimmied onto his left foot and, still with a massed defence and a good 20 yards between him and goal, he unleashed a curling drive."
Has Mel missed a goal? Do you know of a better strike? Let us know by text: at the start of your text key in EXSPORT, leave a space, write your message and send it to 82100. Or email: email@example.com