Match Preview: Lincoln City v Accrington Stanley
Lincoln City have the pleasure of entertaining Accrington Stanley in the first of the knock-out stages of the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night. City reached this stage of the competition courtesy of three excellent wins away to Mansfield Town (1-3) and at home to both Everton U21s and Notts. County by the same 2-1 scoreline. Accrington on the other hand won two of their three Group Stage games; at home to Middlesbrough U21s by 3-2 and away to Wigan Athletic 0-4. They lost their third game at home to Blackpool by 1-2. The surprise was the win at Wigan who are riding high in League One but on the day, it wouldn't have been the home side's first team playing.
Stanley's three games attracted crowds of: 587 Vs Middlesbrough; 975 Vs Blackpool and 1,473 at Wigan. The Imps' games saw 2,495 at Mansfield (with a startling 898 away fans) then 3,713 Vs Everton and 3,026 Vs County. It'll be interesting to see how many will be there on Tuesday although my son and I will be there, in our usual seats, for our first EFL Trophy game of the season, so maybe other first-timers will also be present especially as its ultimate prize is a Wembley appearance. The victors on Tuesday will move into the last 16 of the competition which is effectively round three and which will be a free draw without regionalisation. If it does finish as a draw at 90 minutes then there will be no extra time, just penalties.
It is very difficult to predict who is likely to start the game due to the nature of the competition being seen as having little or no value in the eyes of many participant clubs. In fact, this is perhaps the wrong attitude to take when you consider that City have already banked £50,000 in both prize money and for taking part in the first place. The winners on Tuesday will also pocket another valuable £20,000 in prize money. Add to this the 'on-the-night' extras including ticket sales, bar takings, food, programme sales, 50/50 tickets etc. and City could be looking at well over £100,000 in revenue generated. This is an amount not to be sniffed at and could well be added to the January sales coffers! Gate proceeds are to be shared as follows: first, match expenses are to be deducted then the remainder is split 45% to the home team, 45% to the away team and 10% to the pool.
I will offer my starting eleven: Farman - Long, Waterfall, Raggett, Habergham - Bostwick OR Woodyard, Whitehouse, Ginnelly, Anderson - Rhead, Green.
Subs will include a couple of the youngsters I feel.
As for the result: Well, the Cowleys will want to try to get to Wembley this season after being just one game away (twice) last season and I doubt they'll want to rely on us getting to the play-off final, so I fully expect us to go out and win, which we will; Lincoln City 3 Accrington Stanley 1 is my prediction with 3,800 spectators in the ground.
Next up at Sincil Bank? Yep, it's Accrington Stanley on 16 December with an away game at Yeovil Town to contemplate first on 09 December.
Thank you to Graham Burrell and Lincoln City FC for the photographs.