With International breaks over until March, focus can now fully return to league action, with a full set of EFL League One fixtures ahead.
An interesting game to watch out for on Saturday is between two sides that are having better than expected starts to the season.
Hosts Accrington Stanley have won five out of their last six league games, climbing up the table to 10th, with games in hand on all the teams above them.
Whilst visitors Lincoln City sit in fifth, just three points behind league leaders Peterborough United, with seven wins from their opening 11 games.
Accrington manager John Coleman will be without both Ross Sykes and Tariq Uwakwe, who both have knee injuries. However, Mo Sangare is back in training and could feature for the first time since September, whilst striker Ryan Cassidy returns from international duty.
Meanwhile, Lincoln boss Michael Appleton remains without Joe Walsh, whose knee injury will keep him out for another few weeks at least. But his centre-back partner Lewis Montsma could play for the first time this month after recovering from a groin problem. And captain Liam Bridcutt is likely to start after featuring in the EFL Trophy in midweek, following nearly a month out.
(4-3-3) Savin, Nottingham, Hughes, Burgess, Rodgers, Butcher, Conneely, Russell, Pritchard, Charles, Bishop
(4-3-3) Palmer, Eyoma, Montsma, Jackson, Roughan, Jones, Bridcutt, Grant, Anderson, Hopper, Johnson
Accrington head into the game off the back of three straight league wins, all without conceding, with the last side to score past them being Ipswich Town over a month ago. Their midweek 3-0 win over Swindon Town was particularly impressive, with the game being over by half time. And Coleman will be hoping for an equally dominant display this time around.
In the other camp, Appleton will be facing his first league game in two and a half weeks, having lost their last two to Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers. But City have since put in impressive cup performances against Forest Green and Manchester City U21s. So will be hoping they can use that to inspire them to victory here, and halt their opponent’s progress.
Ones to watch
Whilst goals are important to any team’s success, so are keeping them out at the other end. With experienced centre-back Mark Hughes being a mainstay in the Accrington team during their current run of three straight league clean sheets. Hughes has been with the club since 2016, being part of their EFL League Two promotion side in 2017/18, and he will be hoping he can help his side to another successful season this time around.
The summer of 2016 was also when then non-league Lincoln signed winger Harry Anderson, initially on loan. He has since become a fan-favourite at the club, being part of two promotions and a cup win at Wembley. Anderson is Lincoln’s longest serving player by a three year margin, and has remained a first team regular throughout his time in red and white. He scored in their midweek trophy game, and got man of the match in their last league game against Portsmouth, despite only being a second half substitute.
The record between these sides is quite an interesting one, with their last 10 meetings dating back to 2009 resulting in five wins for Accrington, four for Lincoln and one draw. The interesting thing is that all five of Stanley’s wins have come at the Wham Stadium, whilst their four losses and a draw against the Imps have all been at Sincil Bank. Luckily for Accrington, this game is at home, so following recent history, they should win. Their last meeting in February of this year saw an exciting encounter decided in the 95th minute, with the Lancashire side coming from behind three times before winning 4-3.
How to watch
The game is available to watch for both sets of fans on each club’s individual iFollow pages. For season ticket holding Accrington fans, the link code is obtainable for free.
What the managers have said
Accrington boss John Coleman spoke to the club’s media, looking back on last season’s result, but knows that they are facing a very different side. He said:
“Lincoln are a good side, they score plenty of goals and they are well-organised, they are strong in all departments, have no flaws and have good players all over the park.”
“Last season was a thriller and I wouldn’t mind that again with the same outcome!”
(On their title winning match against Lincoln in 2018) “It was a good night, but it counts for nothing now. It’s a different manager and many different players on both sides.”
In the other dugout, Lincoln manager Michael Appleton spoke to the club website of his side’s preparation for the game. He said:
"We are looking forward to tomorrow, we’ve had some good cup victories in the build-up, and we feel refreshed for the game.”
"We have done some really good work on the training field and there have been some very detailed training sessions during the last few weeks, which have really helped the side in a similar way to how they did in pre-season.”
“The first goal of the game could be crucial; it is a game where we will have to be on it.”