Danny Cowley felt his Lincoln side produced a performance to match the occasion in their 2-0 win over promotion rivals MK Dons.
John Akinde’s first-half penalty – given for Ryan Harley’s clumsy but soft challenge on Shay McCartan inside the box – set the Imps on their way before Bruno Andrade sealed victory in stoppage time.
Outside of a heart-stopping moment where Jason Shackell appeared to foul Chuks Aneke inside the area, only for referee Kevin Johnson to wave away appeals, Lincoln looked largely unruffled and the party can now begin, with promotion all-but rubber-stamped.
Lincoln are 12 points clear of fourth-placed Bury with just 15 points left to play for and next Saturday’s home game against Cheltenham could well be the day they mathematically secure a return to the third tier for the first time in 20 years.
Cowley is still refusing to get ahead of himself, but even the Imps boss had to admit he was proud of the ruthless way his team dispatched a promotion rival on their own turf.
“We are really pleased with our performance and our processes, I thought the boys were incredible,” said Cowley.
“We knew the importance and magnitude of the game in a stadium that is not meant for this league. We responded to all that and we are all really proud.
“We were very well organised – the players’ game management and control was great.
“The older players help the young players and when you have the kind of support we had here, you are always going to work that little bit harder. It’s just a brilliant day for Lincoln City.
“We are getting closer and we can enjoy a small moment after this match but we’ve got to make sure that we refocus and get ready for the final games.
“We have to make sure that we prepare really professionally. It is really important that we don’t get ahead of ourselves.
“Our travelling supporters were befitting of this magnificent ground – the supporters were incredible. They deserve to celebrate on their way back to Lincoln.”
After Akinde kept his cool from the spot for a 17th goal of the campaign, Andrade’s sweet left-footed drive in stoppage time sealed victory.
It means Dons drop to third, level on points with Mansfield in second, and are just one point above fourth-placed Bury in what is becoming a gripping battle for the final two automatic spots.
“It was a really good game,” said Dons boss Paul Tisdale. “Lincoln were very tight but we came up just short, though I feel we deserved at least a point.
“We took some chances, I’m not desperately unhappy with the players. It was a cracking game but we have to look to the next five and perform in them.
“Their best period was after their penalty, they had the upper hand at the end of the first half. We started really well and we had a really good second half.
“It’s where we are in four weeks’ time that matters. We’re in it, we’re delighted with where we are, we’d like to be higher but we’re not.
“It was a really good game. I’m disappointed of course with the result but we have to move on. We have five games to go.”