Last night saw two Imps debutants in the EFL Trophy, namely Billy Brooks and Sam Long.
It continued a tradition of giving players their debuts in the competition, with 16 players having made their first Imps appearance in the re-styled Checkatrade / Leasing.com / Papa John’s Trophy. It might not be to everyone’s tastes (as they let us know every year, eh Marcus?), but it does give our managers the chance to blood players, have a look at the fringe squad and even discount them from his thinking.
I’ve researched this the hard way (procrastinating writing an article about blockchain and online gambling), and there may be omissions. If there are, please let me know by DM so I can rectify it.
For reference, I have found every debutant in the competition before 2011, right back to the earliest days of the Football League Trophy in the eighties. That article will drop next Tuesday, to ‘celebrate’ our game against Bradford City.
Are you ready for the 16 debutants since we came back into the Football League?
Billy Brooks (2021/22) v Manchester United Under 21s
Billy Brooks is something of a unique entry on the list, as he is one of only two players to appear from the academy without having a first-team deal to his name. Brooks recently appeared for Ireland’s Under 18 side, and is another exciting talent to emerge from our youth setup.
Sam Long (2021/22) v Manchester United Under 21s
Sam Long made his debut last night and, despite letting in two goals, couldn’t be blamed for the late rally. He had a comfortable and assured game, and was recently called up to an England training camp. He’s almost certainly one to watch.
Adam Jackson (2020/21) v Scunthorpe United
It might surprise you to find out Adam Jackson made his Lincoln debut in the Papa John’s Trophy last season. He missed the opening game against Crewe, and was the only debutant to then make the midweek game against Scunthorpe United, which we won on penalties.
Ethan Ross (2020/21) v Mansfield Town
Michael likes to give his keepers a chance in the early stages of the competition, and Ross is one of three that have made their in the EFL Trophy since we came back into the league. He appeared twice for City, and is currently with Stockport County.
Jamie Soule (2020/21) v Mansfield Town
Not many young players score on their debut, but that’s what Jamie Soule did after joining City. He joined the club, made his debut for a Football league club and scored all in a whirlwind 24 hours. Sadly, he only appeared once more for the Imps before returning to West Brom injured.
Hayden Cann (2020/21) v Mansfield Town
In the same game Soule and Ross debuted, so did Hayden Cann. He is the only other player on the list who didn’t have a full-time contract when he appeared, but one day later he penned a three-year deal. He has only appeared for a couple of minutes in the first team, and is currently on loan with Gainsborough Trinity, although he could have played for us last night, were he fit.
Max Melbourne (2019/20) v Doncaster Rovers
Although Max signed under Danny Cowley, he wasn’t given a kick. He had to wait until Michael’s first game at the Bank, against Manchester United U21s, to get a shot in the first team. He’s since been in and out of the side, but has plugged a gap at the start of this season. Like many others, he was ruled out of last night’s game as he felt unwell.
Jake Hesketh (2019/20) v Manchester United U21s
I thought Hesketh had his best game in an Imps shirt on his debut, the 1-0 defeat against Manchester United Under 21s back in 2019/20. He turned in an all-action display, almost putting us ahead. He tailed off a bit after that, and is currently with Eastleigh in the National League.
Ben Coker (2019/20) v Rotherham United
So brief was Ben Coker’s stay with the Imps, that I don’t have a picture of him in a Lincoln shirt. He got 60 minutes as we thrashed a decent Rotherham side 3-0, but he wasn’t seen again. This game was also notable for being Lee Frecklington’s last in a Lincoln shirt.
Bernard Mensah (2018/19) v Mansfield Town
I had high hopes for Mensah when he signed for us on loan, but he never reached my aspirations for him. He had appeared for 20 minutes in League One as a Bristol Rovers player when we picked him up on loan, and as we lost a tempestuous game against Mansfield, 2-1. He played eight times in all for us, four in the league and four in this cup, before setting off on his nomadic career taking in southern non-league clubs.
Jordan Adebayo-Smith (2018/19) v Accrington Stanley
Adebayo-Smith played once for City, in the rather bizarre 2-2 draw at Accrington which saw us eliminated on penalties. He was a great hope for a short while, but a loan spell at Boston didn’t seem to develop him. He now plays for Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL Championship.
Tom Shaw (2018/19) v Accrington Stanley
I said it was a bizarre game, and it was. We brought on our youth team coach, and current Gainsborough manager, Tom Shaw, who replaced debutant Adebayo-Smith. I wonder if there has ever been a one appearance wonder replace another one appearance wonder in a senior competition? The fact is we were focused on winning League Two, and protected our players. Jamie McCombe came on for his final Imps appearance in the same game.
Cameron Stewart (2017/18) v Everton U21s
Stewart should have been better – with Leeds and Manchester United on his CV he should have torn up League Two. he didn’t, he appeared in a handful of matches with little impact, the first of which was Everton U21s at the Bank.
Ellis Chapman (2017/18) v Everton U21s
I do still wonder if Ellis will be the one that got away – he’s doing well for Cheltenham and is well-regarded by their supporters. He shone briefly for the Imps during the early part of the 2018/19 season, but he made his debut the year before, replacing Ollie Palmer for the final 20 minutes of our 2-1 group stage win.
Danny Rowe (2017/18) v Rochdale
Danny Rowe made two debuts for the Imps, the first of which came in the 1-0 win at Rochdale in 207/18. These games seem full of quirks – this was the game in which Billy Knott made his final Imps appearance, and was loaned to Rochdale the next day, with Jordan Williams coming the other way, also on loan.
Ryan Allsop (2017/18) v Chelsea U21s
The final debutant of the post-BSP era is current Derby County keeper Ryan Allsop, who signed on loan from Bournemouth just in time to feature against Chelsea in the semi-final of the Checkatrade Trophy in 2018. He saved a penalty in the shootout and had a great game at Wembley to secure us our first piece of silverware in 11 months….