The EFL League One season rages on, and the promotion race to the second tier grows more and more intriguing by the week.
Two of the sides that are part of that race meet on Saturday, with league leaders Lincoln City hosting play-off hopefuls Accrington Stanley.
Both teams will be looking for a win this weekend, after picking up one and zero points respectively in midweek.
Lincoln boss Michael Appleton will likely be without captain Liam Bridcutt, who was forced off with a calf injury in the first half of their midweek game with Hull City. Deadline Day signing Max Sanders could therefore make his debut in his place, with fellow new signings Regan Poole and Cohen Bramall pushing for their first starts as well.
In the other camp, Accrington manager John Coleman will have Joe Pritchard back from a one-game ban, but teammate Sean McConville is serving the second of a four-match ban, so will be unavailable. Both Ryan Cassidy and Gary Roberts have short-term injuries, with a few others still a way off a return.
(4-3-3) Palmer, Poole, Jackson, Walsh, Edun, McGrandles, Jones, Grant, Johnson, Hopper, Rogers.
(4-3-3) Baxter, Nottingham, Barclay, Hughes, Burgess, Butcher, Conneely, Pritchard, Smyth, Bishop, Charles.
The Imps come into the game off the back of just one defeat in their last eleven games in all competitions. They battled to a goalless draw with title rivals Hull in midweek, which was incredibly their seventh clean sheet in their last eight away games. Home form is something they’ll be looking to improve upon however, with five of their six defeats coming at home, as well as 15 of the 20 goals they’ve conceded.
Meanwhile, Accrington’s last three games have all been at home, picking up four points from nine. In terms of away form, a draw with Plymouth Argyle, and big defeats to Hull and Lincoln make up their last three, with their last away victory coming in their first game of 2021 at Charlton Athletic. So they will be hoping for more of that on Saturday.
Ones to watch
There was plenty of excitement at Lincoln when they signed 18-year-old winger Morgan Rogers on loan from Manchester City at the start of January. And that expectation hasn’t been in vain, as the youngster has slotted into the team brilliantly, producing a number of good performances, as well as bagging the winner with his first professional goal away at Portsmouth. If he keeps this up, he will likely be a starter for City for the remainder of the season, so will be a key threat on Saturday.
Accrington have failed to score in their last two games, but prior to that, a 6-1 demolition of Bristol Rovers saw forward Dion Charles score a hattrick. Charles is Stanley’s top scorer this season, with eleven goals in all competitions, which is a great return at this stage of the campaign. His goals, along with those of teammate Colby Bishop, will be relied upon if they are to maintain their push for a play-off place and an unlikely spot in the EFL Championship.
These sides have met twice already this season, with a 0-0 draw at the Wham Stadium in November followed by a comfortable 4-0 win for Lincoln in the EFL Trophy at Sincil Bank in January. The last time the Lancashire side came out on top was when they hosted the Imps almost exactly a year ago today. A 95th minute goal from Sam Finley saw them win 4-3, after coming from behind on three occasion. From a neutrals perspective, there will be hope for a game similar to that, but either side will likely settle for a boring 1-0 victory on Saturday.
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 Lincoln fans, the link is obtainable for free.
What the managers have said
Lincoln manager Michael Appleton spoke to Lincolnshire Live ahead of the game, and is expecting a tough afternoon. He said:
“They’re game, they’re honest, they never give you a minute. It’s going to be a tough fixture.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they set up against us. They lost on Tuesday, so they’re going to try and put that right.
“Even though they were different teams, they’ll also try and put right what happened in the Papa John’s. We’ll be aware of that and hopefully we can get off to a good start.”
In the other dugout, Stanley boss John Coleman told local media that he expects his side to go for it. He said:
“It’s a good test for us. We know what they can do. We will be prepared and will do our best to win the game.
“We won’t be going there for a draw. I think people are realising they won’t get an easy game with Accrington.”