Lincoln City, better known as The Imps, were founded in 1884 and currently play at Sincil Bank in Lincoln, Lincolnshire (say Lincoln again). They recently returned to the Football League after winning the Conference in 2016/17, a season during which they also reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy, and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, having travelled to, and knocked out, top-flight opposition in Burnley, before eventually succumbing to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in a cup run which earned City the thick end of £3,000,000. They’re currently managed by the Cowley brothers – Danny and Nicky – who are among the most highly thought of up-and-coming coaches that the EFL has to offer. The Cowleys made their name at Concord Rangers, before moving to Braintree Town where they achieved a play-off position with the Essex side, and, after eventually losing in the semi-finals of the playoffs to Grimsby Town, signed on the dotted line at Sincil Bank, where their reputation has continued to rise.
The Form Guide
Cowley’s men come into this one on a huge high, having just reached Wembley for the first time in the club’s history after overcoming Chelsea’s children in the much maligned Checkatrade Trophy, a competition that Lincoln have taken extremely seriously from the outset, albeit to much confusion from fans across the EFL as to why they would wish to support, and therefore to some extent legitimise, such a competition. Aside from their exploits in the aforementioned charade, Lincoln have been going well in the league, and find themselves still well in the hunt for not only a play-off position, but also not too far away from the top-three, which they will surely view as a realistic target for the rest of the season. In terms of recent form in the league, Lincoln have lost only one of their seven matches since Christmas, and even that was away at runaway league leaders Luton Town, so make no mistake, United will face a team in excellent form under the famous Abbey floodlights on Friday night.
It’s fair to say Lincoln have reaped the rewards of that excellent cup run last season, and have used some of the bundles of cash they made to ensure they have a squad capable of competing at the top end of the division, and with some more established EFL outfits. Since promotion, City have added the likes of Michael Bostwick and Matt Green, who will be known to many U’s fans for time spent at Peterborough, and time spent terrorising EFL defences for Mansfield respectively. This, before adding genuine quality in Lee Frecklington and Tom Pett in January to a squad which already boasts the likes of Harry Anderson, Danny Rowe and Alex Woodyard, who will all surely be considered among the most exciting young talents in the league. So, all in all, City have got plenty to make the Yellows worry about on Friday night, but perhaps the ‘ones to watch’ will be the front two, Matt Green and Matt Rhead, who lead the scoring charts for The Imps, with nine and seven goals respectively.
Met Before, Haven’t We?
We have indeed. In fact, we’ve got a pretty good record against Lincoln in recent years. Since 2011, when Lincoln were relegated into the conference, we’ve met seven times, and have lost only once, with the sole loss coming in 2014, as Lincoln made the most of Ryan Donaldson’s red card to pick up all three points at Sincil Bank in a season which would ultimately result in our promotion. The highlight of our recent meetings, from our perspective anyway, would probably have been the match at The Abbey at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, where Tom Elliott and Adriano Moke (remember him!) scored either side of a Lincoln equaliser to give the U’s a 2-1 victory. Well, that would probably be the highlight unless you’re a fan of windy, horrible 0-0 draws in which literally nothing happens, as was the case in the reverse fixture during that season, a match during which there were zero shots on goal if memory serves correctly. Our most recent match against The Imps saw us come away with a more than respectable point, after working hard to secure a 0-0 draw at a packed out, and extremely loud Sincil Bank all the way back in October, which seems a long time ago, and it would be fair to say the two sides have followed different paths since…
Lincoln are favourites to come away with the win on Friday evening, currently priced at 7/5, with the U’s priced at 9/4, and the draw at 23/10, which probably just about reflects the majority of people’s predictions that, although not nailed on, Lincoln will probably be tasting victory in front of their 1400+ away fans. The bookies don’t fancy a goalfest, probably sensibly where the U’s are involved, with Over 2.5 goals priced up at 11/10 in this one, and Both Teams to Score – Yes at 5/6. Matt Green is favourite to open the scoring, currently priced at 11/2, and you can get nearly 2/1 on Green finding the net at any time during the game. For United, the bookies are unable to choose between Jabo Ibehre (who is concussed, and ruled out of tomorrow night’s fixture) and Uche Ikpeazu as to who is most likely to open the scoring, with 13/2 available for either to score first, and 9/4 available for either to score anytime. Fancy Barry Corr to score on his (second (third)) return to The Abbey? You can get 5/2 on that, which is surely worth a tenner of anybody’s money.
The Injury Room
We’ll be able to call upon the services of David Amoo and Piero Mingoia again against Lincoln, both of whom have returned to training during the week. The U’s, however, will definitely be without Jabo Ibehre who continues to recover from concussion, and could also be without Medy Elito, as his injury situation remains unclear. Aside from that, Barry Corr is once again available, having signed a deal at The Abbey until the end of the season, and, although his current match fitness is perhaps not where Shaun Derry would like it to be, he’ll provide a huge boost to the squad, management, club and fans alike.
Everyone with the Under The Abbey Stand podcast was saddened to hear of the passing of Cambridge United club historian, supporter, and incredible writer Andrew Bennett during the week. Our thoughts go out to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time. The Club, along with 100 Years of Coconuts, have confirmed they are planning for a full tribute to mark its respect for the fantastic contribution and love which Andrew contributed to Cambridge United, something that will be guided by his family’s feelings, and will occur at the Grimsby Town match on the 17th February, a match at which Andrew’s family will be guests. Keep an eye on @100yearcoconut on twitter, who will communicate plans for the aforementioned tribute as they have them.