The last week has seen us learn our fate in the two cups we remain in; the FA Cup and the Papa John’s Trophy.
I haven’t really touched on either, so I thought I’d put something brief together today, for those who missed it. The games are roughly scheduled for November 30th and December 4th, meaning after Doncaster we’re Tuesday and Saturday for three consecutive weeks.
FA Cup – (H) v either Hartlepool or Wycombe (Dec 4th)
In the FA Cup, we didn’t get a great draw. We’re at home, which is a bonus I guess, but if we get Wymcobe we know we’re in for a horrible, defensive game. Hartlepool held their League One rivals 2-2 in the First Round, necessitating a replay at Adams Park, but unless they pull something very special out of the bag, I’d expect Gareth Ainsworth to be in town Christmas Market Weekend. There won’t be a lot of festive cheer for that one; we haven’t beaten Wycombe since 2009, when a single Anthony Elding goal gave us a 1-0 win. We’ve already lost to them this season, gifting them an early goal in their 1-0 win, and we only played them once in the 2019/20 season, losing 3-1 in Danny Cowley’s last match in charge. If it is Wycombe, we’ll see Brandon Hanlon, who the Imps were linked with earlier in the season, and a stoic, defensive side who like to pump it forward. Let’s hope that is one of Joe Walsh’s fit days because it will take some old school defending and likely him and Adam Jackson as the partnership for a bruising encounter. The other worry is the aerial threat they pose and our lack of first-team keeper for the game; remember, Josh Griffiths can’t play. For the record, we haven’t played Wycombe in the cup before, so there’s one possible first.
The other option is Hartlepool, who recently lost their manager to Stockport County. Hartlepool used to be a regular on the Imps fixture calendar, but we haven’t played them in the league since 2006/07. We did play them in 2007/07 in the LDV Vans or whatever it was called, but we got thumped 5-2. They dropped out of the league in the same season we were promoted, which explains the long gap between our last games. Once upon a time, we played them often, and have 46 wins from 109 outings in total. However, in the FA Cup we’ve played them five times, winning just once. In fact, we haven’t scored past them in the FA Cup since November 1963, when Roger Holmes gave us a 1-0 win. Since then, we’ve lost 3-0 twice, and lost 1-0 (corrected) after a 0-0 draw. The current Hartlepool side are tenth in League Two, and doing alright, so it’s a tricky tie if they get past Wycombe.
- Since publishing this article, it’s been pointed out there is an error on Soccerbase, which I have used for reference. We did, in fact, beat Hartlepool in the FA Cup in 1974. going out in the next round to Swindon. Apologies.
Papa John’s Trophy – (A) v Carlisle United (Nov 30th)
Hey, Lincoln fans. What could make you want to go to a Papa John’s Trophymidweek game less than playing an Under 21 side? That’s right, a midweek, winter trip to Carlisle. I mean, sure, it’s winnable, but it’s one of those experiences that you just don’t want to be put through. That’s what the draw has given us though, and that’s what we’re going to have to deal with if we want to move towards another Wembley appearance. On paper, it is almost the easiest tie we could have got; they’re 22nd in the League One table and only Oldham (23rd) are lower in terms of Football League teams. Carlisle, like Hartlepool, have had a manager change this season, but it was their choice as they sacked Chris Beech. They’ve only won five games all season, two in the Papa John’s and one in the FA Cup, hence their struggles. Like Hartlepool, they’ve got nobody in their squad with strong Imps connections, and they’re a team we have played in this competition before; in 1994 they beat us 2-1 at Brunton Park to deny us a place in the Area Final of the Autoglass Trophy. History is one our side; we’ve won three of our last five trips to play the Cumbrians, and the last time we lost there we did so with ten men, having Jason Shackell sent off after just 30 minutes. The time before that, long-term Bentley Hotel patron Michael Bridges scored for them.