|Lincoln City 5 v 3 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Sunday, 29th December 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Town Out to End Another Winless Run at Lincoln
Friday, 27th Dec 2019 17:05
Town visit Lincoln City on Sunday looking to end their run of six League One games to an end, having finally brought their 15-match winless FA Cup streak to a close at Sincil Bank via a last-gasp Alan Judge goal just over a month ago.
Town moved back to second in the table - six points behind leaders Wycombe who they travel to face on New Year’s Day - as a result of their 0-0 Boxing Day draw with Gillingham, but have taken only 10 points from their last 10 League One matches. Their last league win was at Rochdale on November 5th.
In all competitions, the FA Cup win at Sincil Bank is the Blues’ only victory over 90 minutes in their last 12 fixtures.
Boss Paul Lambert believes that match will have little bearing on Sunday's match.
“No, it’s a totally different game,” Lambert said. “You’re going to have to earn the right to win the game. It’s going to be a hard game but the lads are more than capable of going there and winning it.”
He added: “They’re all hard, every game’s hard. We go there and we go and try and win. We try and ensure the team will go there and give it everything they’ve got as normal.
“We’ll take a big crowd there again. A tough, tough game. We’re a big scalp for everybody and that will be no different to what it was in the FA Cup.
“It’s not going to be any different but the guys will go up there I’m pretty sure will get after it and will give it a right good go.”
Asked whether midfielder Flynn Downes, left on the bench throughout the draw with Gillingham, would return to the XI, Lambert confirmed that the 20-year-old was rested and said: “He might, we’ve got a game on Sunday and then Wednesday, so we’ve got four games [in 10 days].
“But the team is strong, Luke [Chambers] will be back from suspension, the squad’s in a good position.”
Lambert may opt to swap his keepers again with Tomas Holy coming in for Will Norris, who has started the last two matches.
At the back, the Blues boss could look to return to a three-man backline with Chambers joining Luke Woolfenden and James Wilson with Toto Nsiala perhaps less likely to start having played the full 90 minutes on Thursday having only recently returned from his spell on the sidelines with injury.
Luke Garbutt and Janoi Donacien are likely to continue as the wing-backs, although Myles Kenlock may be hoping for some involvement during the Christmas fixtures on the left.
In midfield, Lambert could rest Cole Skuse with Downes and Andre Dozzell perhaps returning to the XI. Alan Judge could move to the central role ahead of them, while Emyr Huws is yet to feature in the holiday fixtures.
Up front, Will Keane could partner Kayden Jackson with James Norwood having played the full 90 minutes of the last two matches. Freddie Sears is likely to join him on the bench looking to get further first-team minutes under his belt.
Lincoln go into the match having lost their previous two games 1-0 away, Oxford having followed Coventry in beating the Imps by that scoreline.
Michael Appleton’s men, who are 17th in the table, have a decent League One home record of won five - including their last Sincil Bank fixture, a 1-0 success over Tranmere a fortnight ago - drawn one and lost two.
Appleton believes having faced Town twice already this season in the FA Cup will benefit his team.
“The fact we’ve played Ipswich on a couple of occasions will help in some ways,” Appleton told Lincolnshire Live.
“They made a lot of changes in the two games. Having said that, there was still some quality on show from their point of view.
“From our performance point of view, the chances we created, it was very good. I’m sure the players will take a lot from that.”
He added: “Their squad and the budget reflects on the fact they came down from the Championship last season.
“They’ve got two of the best strikers in the league. On their day, they can cause problems to anybody.
“That makes them very, very dangerous. It’s going to be a tough game, but overall we’ve been good at home since I’ve come in.
"Hopefully, with a big crowd getting behind the players, we can get the right result.”
The teams last met just over a month ago in the FA Cup first-round replay at Sincil Bank which the Blues won 1-0.
Judge’s first Town goal deep in injury time ended the Blues’ 15-match winless run in the tournament and avenged the defeat to the Imps in the same competition in January 2017. The tie appeared destined for extra-time when Judge swept home at the far post.
Ten days previously, the sides played out a 1-1 draw at Portman Road in the initial tie. Tyler Walker put the visitors ahead on 37 and, after the Imps goalscorer had seen a second-half penalty saved by Norris, Dozzell curled home an equaliser 79th minute.
Overall, Town have the edge historically having won six games between the teams (five in the league) with four (two) ending in draws and four (three) won by the Imps.
If he is involved, Blues defender Wilson will face his old club - the defender recently spoke about his time with the Imps - while Jordan Roberts and the currently-injured Danny Rowe are previous Imps loanees.
Town midfielder Jon 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.
Sunday’s referee is James Oldham from Derbyshire, who has shown 50 yellow cards and three red in 15 games so far this season and will be taking charge of his first ever Town match.
One of Oldham’s assistants will be Colchester-based official Aaron Farmer, who was the linesman whose advice led to referee Alan Young controversially disallowing Town’s goal in the recent home game against Wycombe.
Farmer was also the referee for the U23s’ pre-season friendly at Coggeshall in July when he refused to officiate for the final 30 minutes of a game of three thirds as the teams were planning to rotate their players using roll-on, roll-off subs.
Squad from: Norris, Holy, Donacien, Garbutt, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Skuse, Dozzell, Downes, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Edwards, Dobra, Jackson, Keane, Norwood, Sears.
Photo: Action Images
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