At 1pm today we will see who the Imps have drawn in the Carabao Cup, or as I will call it from here on in, the League Cup.
It’s a seeded draw aimed at ensuring teams don’t have as far to travel, and Championship clubs are included from the start, barring Hull and Middlesbrough. They’re in round two along with Premier League sides that have not got European commitments, but we could draw Sunderland or Leeds in the first round.
So, what happened last time we were in the competition? As you know, you don’t get to enter such prestigious tournaments when you’re a non-league side (see also the star-studded EFL Trophy), so we haven’t featured since August 2010. On that occasion we certainly got the draw we wanted but perhaps not the location, as we pulled out Leeds United away from home.
It was Chris Suttton’s Lincoln that travelled to Leeds, his second game of ten in our relegation season. We’d already been beaten at Rotherham on the opening day, although signs had been positive with Mustapha Carayol and Albert Jarrett both looking like they might go on to be tricky customers for the Imps.
It was a warm evening when we went along to Leeds, City were backed by 1,553 fans in a total crowd of 12,602. Playing in the unusual all-red away kit, I imagine the remit would have been to keep it tight early on and look to take Leeds on the break. As the players streamed on to the pitch to the roars of support, nobody could have predicted the early collapse we were about to see.
City lined up: Joe Anyon, Paul Green, Adam Watts, Moses Swaibu, Joe Anderson, Cian Hughton, Scott Kerr, Josh O’Keefe, Mustapha Carayol, Albert Jarrett and Gavin McCallum.
As far as that is away from a classic Imps side, Leeds had some really good players in their ranks. Kasper Schmeichel played in goal, a future Premier League winner. They had Luciana Becchio up front with Lloyd Sam too, both very good players. We saw in 2016/17 that a few names in your squad means nothing if the opposition are up for it, but just seven minutes in and we proved we weren’t up for it at all.
Less than two minutes had elapsed before Sanchez Watt crossed for captain Jon Howson to nod Leeds into the lead, and with unlucky seven on the clock it was Becchio who finished after Watt once again created the opening. City were 2-0 down before we’d seen out the early knockings, and 1500 fans perhaps wished they’d stayed at home.
Leeds kept pouring forward, City looking like rabbits caught in headlights. All over the park they won the individual battles, and as a team they won the collective war. Joe Anyon made a string of decent saves to keep the score at 2-0, but he couldn’t do anything on the half hour mark as Lloyd Sam planted a quality header across the keeper and into the net. Even with an hour left I imagined leaving, getting away and beating the traffic. It wouldn’t be the last time I thought about leaving that season.
After the break Leeds took their foot off the gas a bit, and it was left to Lincoln to see if they could muster up a shot on target or meaningful effort. We did manage a couple of half efforts, three of which the stats tell us were on target, but sat in Elland Road I didn’t see three efforts I thought might get us a goal back. I didn’t see one.
Mustapha Carayol drove a shot over from around 25-yards, but that really was the only positive action of the first twenty-five minutes of the second half. Leeds looked happy to have the win in the bag, City looked as if they just wanted it all to end.
Finally, on 70 minutes, Leeds stood over the twitching carcass of our League Cup campaign and steadily fired a bullet into its temple. Lloyd Sam tried to jinx past Paul Green in the area, and the frustrated full back was adjudged to have tripped him as he glided by. Was it a penalty? I doubt anyone really cared a that point.
Neil Kilkenny comfortably beat Joe Anyon for the fourth goal of the game, all of them in the against column. Leeds United 4 Lincoln City 0.
Andrew Hutchinson came on for Scott Kerr as Chris Sutton decided to go looking for five goals in the last twenty minutes, and he even managed a shot on goal from a corner five minutes later. City looked as if they might want a consolation as Delroy Facey, on for the ineffective McCallum, also drove an effort towards Schmeichel, although it sailed wide. That was as exciting as it got for City fans though, and after three extra minutes referee Paul Tierney brought our misery to an end.
Chris Sutton stated the obvious after the match: “I think it was a tall order to win the game, but we would liked to have stayed in it a little longer.”
A little longer than two minutes Chris? yeah, that might have been nice. Still, it wasn’t like he had a reputation of staying with things until the end, dropping his England career the first time he was snubbed by his country, and walking out on City just eight games later as well.
Fast forward to August 2017. Whoever City draw I expect a much more competitive and organised Lincoln side to go in hunt of another cup run. Whether we get it or not is irrelevant, as long as we compete and do not just roll over and die after seven minutes.