Town Make Return to Lincoln Aiming to Finally End FA Cup Woe
Tuesday, 19th Nov 2019 16:03
Town visit Lincoln City on Wednesday as they continue their search for a first FA Cup tie victory since January 2010 and aiming to avenge 2017’s hugely embarrassing live-on-TV 1-0 loss to the Imps at Sincil Bank in the competition.
Back then the Blues were in the Championship and Lincoln the Vanarama National League but the clubs go into Wednesday’s first-round replay - the first match at Portman Road ended 1-1 11 days ago - both in League One.
Town’s last FA Cup tie victory was a 2-1 win against Blackpool in the third round at Bloomfield Road during Roy Keane’s time in charge. Since then they have played 15 matches in the competition, five draws and 10 defeats.
Assistant manager Stuart Taylor admits he and the rest of the staff would have preferred the Blues to have progressed to round round two - a Sunday December 1st trip to St Andrew’s to face Coventry City awaits the winners - via the first match but believes there are some positives in having another fixture.
“It’s great to play games,” he said. “We’ve got another game there where lads can go and get another 90 minutes under their belt.
“Would we rather have won the first game at our place? Of course we would have. But it gives us another opportunity to play players who are coming back from injuries or play players who haven’t played for a while, or younger players coming through.
“That was great at the Colchester game, seeing the younger ones coming through having an opportunity and coming through that game.”
Despite promotion being the primary aim this season and with cup teams having featured plenty of changes, Taylor insists Town are aiming to progress in the other competitions.
“I want to play every game and win every game,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what tournament it’s in, if it’s the league or the FA Cup or whatever I want to win games every time we go and play. That’s our target and hopefully we’ll get the result.”
Reflecting on the Imps’ performance in the game at Portman Road in which Andre Dozzell netted an equaliser for the Blues in the 79th minute, he said: “They didn’t surprise me in any way. We know they are a very good side that wants to get the ball down and play football, totally different to how they were under the previous management team.
“They have a different style, a different formation, different principals of play and it was good to see.
“We knew it was going to be a good game of football and both teams would want to go and play football.
“Certainly they’ve got individuals there that are dangerous that we need to look after and we’re aware of that, so there weren’t any surprises, but it’s going to be an interesting game and a tough game.”
Asked about how long it might take Lincoln to adapt to the change of style under Michael Appleton, who took over earlier in the season following the departure of the Cowley brothers for Huddersfield, Taylor said: “It can go both ways. They’ve obviously bought into it very quickly, albeit they’re playing really good football but not getting the results they would like.
“But I’m sure that will happen in time. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen against us, but they’re a good side and they’ve got good individuals, they’ve got a good management team and they’ve got a good style of how they want to play football.”
Taylor had praise for keeper Will Norris for his crucial second-half penalty save from Tyler Walker which prevented Lincoln from securing a two-goal lead which would have given Town a mountain the climb at that stage.
“Will’s a very very good goalkeeper as we all know, we’ve seen how he’s performed when he has come in,” he said.
“The lads have great confidence when he’s in there and he took a lot of confidence out of that save, but as a goalkeeper he’s very assured of himself, very confident and he’s got great ability.”
If the game is drawn at full-time the Blues will face extra-time and following that perhaps penalties, eventualities Taylor is keen to avoid.
“It would be nice to get 90 minutes and get back down the road before 12 o’clock,” he laughed. “But if it means going for that little bit longer to get through to the next round then so be it.
“The lads are strong enough and fit enough to go and get through that game time. It’s not an easy tie whatsoever, we’re not expecting to go out there and win the game in the first 30 minutes.
“It’s not like that at all, it’s going to be very tough, we recognised that in the pre-match build-up when we did our analysis on them before we played them and then we all saw how good a side they can be for ourselves at Portman Road.
“But we’ve got confidence within ourselves, we know what we need to do and we’ll go up there looking to go and win the game and get back down the road to prepare for Saturday’s game.”
Has the squad worked on penalties in training just in case? “I scored a few the other day at training! Coming up to cup games you do take them, but you don’t build it up too much.
“It’s a case of going to take a penalty and just being confident with it and hitting the back of the net. We don’t put too much emphasis on it.”
As ever, second-guessing a Paul Lambert cup XI is all but impossible. Tomas Holy could keep his place for this match having played against Colchester in the Leasing.com Trophy last week but with Will Norris probably returning for the League One game against Blackpool on Saturday.
Full-backs Janoi Donacien and Myles Kenlock are likely to continue with Toto Nsiala again set to be one of the centre-halves as he continues his recovery from injury. Luke Woolfenden could take over from James Wilson in the other central role.
In the middle of midfield, Emyr Huws is again likely to start as he continues to build his fitness after his lengthy injury absence and Lambert will have to decide whether to include another experienced player alongside the Welshman - perhaps Jon Nolan - or a youngster such as Idris El Mizouni or maybe even Brett McGavin, who impressed against the U’s on his senior debut.
Dozzell and Flynn Downes could have some involvement, most likely on the bench, having played six and 18 minutes respectively for England’s U20s on Tuesday evening.
Out wide, Lambert could again start Anthony Georgiou on the left with Gwion Edwards or Danny Rowe perhaps on the right with Armando Dobra having played as Albania’s U19s lost 4-2 against Iceland in Belgium on Tuesday afternoon.
Up front, Will Keane seems likely to start with Alan Judge, who will be back from international duty with Ireland having not featured in Monday's game against Denmark and previously only as a late sub in the friendly with New Zealand, potentially playing behind the former Manchester United trainee.
Imps boss Appleton believes his side will bounce back from their disappointing 1-0 weekend defeat at Gillingham against the Blues.
“I’m pretty confident the performance will be 10 times better, these things happen in football that’s not quite happened for me before so I suppose I’ve been quite lucky,” he told the Lincoln official website.
“You lose games as a manager and you expect that, it’s part and parcel of the job. But in terms of losing games in the manner that we did, whether other people accept it, I won’t accept it so that’s why I was slightly angered.
“There’s always going to be a winner and a loser the majority of the time, but I won’t accept losing in the manner that we did on Saturday.”
Appleton, whose side are 17th in League One, could have skipper Lee Frecklington back in midfield after injury, while central defender Michael Bostwick and full-back Ben Coker could also return.
“He’s close,” he said regarding Frecklington. “He’s trained for a couple of weeks now to what we’d expect, he was in for a while where he had to step out of training.
“I spoke to him on Friday night and he felt reasonably good and felt as happy as he had before the injury which is a good sign, to have that type of person around and in the team is very beneficial.
“The sooner we can get him up to full speed the better and that goes for a couple of the others we’ve had out of the squad recently.
“Bozzy and Cokes travelled with us at the weekend and I’m sure over the coming weeks, they’ll be looking to get involved but it was probably too much of a risk for both of them on Saturday.”
Reflecting on the FA Cup, he added: “I’ve got to the quarter-finals a couple of times as a coach and manager but just missed out as a player.
"I’m excited. It’s a great competition, it’s the one I remember as a small kid growing up so I look forward to it every time it comes around.
“Since I’ve been here, our performances at results at Sincil Bank have been pretty good so we’re looking for that to continue on Wednesday.”
Lincoln have won just two of their last 15 matches in all competitions, both at home. A 2-0 success against Sunderland in League One in early October and last week’s Leasing.com Trophy victory over Rotherham are their only wins since Appleton took charge on September 23rd.
The tie is a repeat of the third round meeting between the teams in 2016/17 which the Imps won 1-0 in a replay at Sincil Bank following a 2-2 draw at Portman Road.
That game was the teams’ only previous cup meeting prior to this season. Town have won five of the league games between the sides, all of which have been in the second tier, and Lincoln three with two ending in draws.
The teams are due to meet in League One at Sincil Bank on Sunday 29th December and at Portman Road on Saturday 25th January.
The tie sees Blues defender Wilson face his old club - the defender spoke about his time with the Imps last month - while Roberts and Danny Rowe are previous Imps loanees.
Town midfielder Nolan was with Lincoln between June 2013 and January 2016, making 64 starts and 11 sub appearances.
Ex-Town loanee Callum Connolly is currently on loan at Lincoln from Everton, while the Imps’ Wales international midfielder Joe Morrell, who is on loan from Bristol City, was born in Ipswich. Having played for the Welsh on Tuesday, Morrell is unlikely to be involved against the Blues.
The Blues are playing at the first round stage of the competition they won for the only time in 1978 for the first time since the 1956/57 campaign when they defeated Hastings United 4-0 at Portman Road.
Squad from: Holy, Norris, Edwards, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers, Wilson, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Skuse, McGavin, Huws, Hughes, Nolan, Downes, Dozzell, Rowe, Georgiou, Judge, Jackson, Norwood, Keane, Simpson, K Brown.
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