As the season enters its penultimate weekend, promotion and relegation is being decided across the EFL.
In EFL League One the battle for both relegation and the play-offs is likely to go to the final day.
But the last automatic promotion place could be decided on Saturday in a crunch match between second placed Peterborough United and third placed Lincoln City.
Darren Ferguson will be able to call upon midfielder Reece Brown who is back after a hamstring injury. Although they will be without goalkeeper Christy Pym who has a muscle issue. Ronnie Edwards is also available again after injury.
In the other camp, Lincoln manager Michael Appleton may hand Tom Hopper a first start since mid-March after making his return from injury last week. Returning defenders Joe Walsh and Adam Jackson could also make it into the matchday squad, however Brennan Johnson picked up a knock in midweek, so will likely miss out.
(4-2-3-1) Bursik, Thompson, Kent, Beevers, Butler, Reed, Brown, Ward, Szmodics, Dembele, Clarke-Harris.
(4-2-3-1) Palmer, Poole, Montsma, Eyoma, Edun, McGrandles, Bridcutt, Grant, Scully, Hopper, Rogers.
The Posh come into the game off the back of a disappointing draw with Doncaster Rovers in midweek. A win would have seen them promoted with two games to spare, but they instead sacrificed a two-goal lead. They therefore head into this game needing a point, lest they face a nervy end to the season. Form says they will achieve promotion on Saturday however, as they have lost just one of their last eight games.
Meanwhile, Lincoln are on a good run themselves, after a dip in form in February and March, they have now lost just one in six. More impressively, they have won four of their last five, keeping clean sheets in all four victories. In fact, the Imps’ last three away games have all been 1-0 wins, so they will be hoping for more of the same here.
Ones to watch
When these sides met in January 2020, former Grimsby Town forward Siriki Dembele came off the bench with 20 minutes to go and the score finely poised at 1-1. Within one minute Dembele got into an altercation with Lincoln’s Joe Morrell and was sent off for a headbutt, a moment of madness which ultimately cost his team the game.
Since then however, he has gone from strength to strength, bagging himself 11 goals and 10 assists this season to help his side to the brink of promotion. He has failed to find the net in his last four games though, so will be aiming to break that mini-drought on Saturday and reach a tier of football he has yet to achieve personally.
Dembele seeing red in that game early last year meant that Lincoln pushed on for a winning goal, which arrived in the 90th minute through a beautifully placed Jorge Grant free-kick. It was the highlight in what was quite a mixed season for the former Nottingham Forest player, inconsistencies that have been eradicated this campaign. Grant was made vice-captain during the summer by Appleton, showing a trust in the influence that he possesses.
Trust that he has paid back with a brilliant year. Scoring 14 and assisting 10, which puts him at the top of both lists for the club. He is the favourite to grab Lincoln’s player of the season award, and you can see why with the way he controls games, with Saturday being another game he will hope to stand out in.
The reverse fixture between these sides was in January, sharing the spoils in an evenly fought 1-1 draw, a result which the hosts would gladly settle for again. Lincoln will take encouragement from the fact that they have lost just twice in their last nine meetings with their opponents, winning 2-1 at Sincil Bank last January, as well as 4-2 in the EFL Trophy on their way to winning the competition in 2018. However their form when they travel to London Road is a little more worrying, winning once in the last nine trips there, and that came back in December 2006.
They will need that second away win in 35 years in order to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive.
How to watch
The game is available to watch for both sets of fans on their respective iFollow pages at 15:00 BST. For season ticket holding Peterborough fans, the link is obtainable for free.
What the managers have said
“We’ve come so far this season, I can’t see us throwing it away now.
“Anyone looking at the table seeing us eight points clear of third would think it’s game over already, but it’s different when you are directly involved.
“It certainly isn’t all over, but I do remain confident we will get over the line.”
In the other dugout, Lincoln boss Michael Appleton discussed their possible shot at the automatic places with local press. He said:
“Where there’s a small chance, and there is a small chance, then we have to give it our best shot.
“If we do go there and win the game, I still expect Peterborough to take care of what they need to do in the last game.
“All I want to do, if possible, is try and win the next two games and really make Peterborough work their socks off to get that top-two spot.”