A week ago, if you’d asked me about the game tonight, I’d have brushed you off.
Sure, we want a cup run, but do we want it in the BSM Trophy? Or the FA Cup? It would surely be the latter, but as you know, we buggered that up. So, the BSM Trophy it is, our only chance of getting to Wembley.
It’s worth more in terms of money than the League Cup (not prestige, of course). It still doesn’t make it alright, but I suppose if it’s all we’ve got, then we may as well seize the moment. With that in mind, Notts County stand between us and qualification for the next round.
Notts County haven’t got a point in this competition, but if they beat us and Derby beat Wolves Under 21s, then they’re through. We have three points, and all we need is to avoid defeat, assuming Derby beat Wolves Under 21s. Even a loss on penalties would be enough. I don’t think the game will be prio for Derby, but after their draw at the weekend, I don’t think Paul Warne will risk not winning their game.
Basically, we just have to make sure we avoid the outcome of the last two home games, and we’re £10,000 richer and through to the next round. “How exciting,” I say, through gritted teeth.
I’m not there tonight; a clutch in the same state as our FA Cup hopes means I’m carless and, therefore, resigned to watching on iFollow. Of course, the cool in me thinks I won’t bother. The Lincoln City fan in me knows it’s preferable to completing Spider-Man 2 a night earlier than currently intended.
It’s funny how my attitude towards the competition has changed. In 2017/18, I embraced it: I went to every home game, including the 2-1 win against County in which Josh Ginnely scored a cracker. There were almost 3,000 there that night, proving the novelty of playing proper teams, albeit in a controversial competition, was still alive. I guess it beat going to Nantwich in the FA Trophy, but now that we routinely see big clubs at the Bank, the competition has dwindled in allure. Besides, we’ve already won the thing once.
Still, even with that in mind, I’m firmly in the ‘let’s go for it’ camp tonight, but I don’t actually think we will. What I mean is we won’t go full strength, whatever that looks like right now. Actually, across the back, there are not many changes we can make, but up top, we could put some of the right-shaped pegs in holes.
Here’s the XI I think we’ll go with tonight. Remember, I never get these right.
The back three looks almost full-strength. I spoke on our monthly review show about how Adam Jackson’s current form and fitness were a huge boost, but I cannot see us risking him tonight. Hayden Cann would have been a good shout, but he’s on loan with Peterborough Sports, and they have a game tonight – he won’t be recalled.
That’s the reason we have a strong midfield in my pick as well – Oisin Gallagher is likely to be on Peterborough Sports duty. I guess whoever partners Smith will be the player out of Erhahon and Hamilton, who doesn’t need a break. I personally think Erhahon needs a good game to regain a little focus, and therefore I’d be looking at playing him. It does depend on Ted’s fitness – he’s another who could play. either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to have a different pairing finish the game.
Jaden Brown feels like the only ‘senior’ player who really needs a big game tonight. He’s been virtually anonymous in recent weeks, having not started in the league since September 30th. His last outing was the full 90 minutes against Wolves Under 21s, and for me, he’s a shoo-in for tonight’s game.
I’m sure Lasse will want to play (Jay Benn could, but he’s injured at Solihull), but I suspect we’ll go with Jack Burroughs on the right. We could try Eyoma at right back, possibly with Burroughs, then pushing into midfield, as per the experiment on Saturday, to give us more of a grip on possession.
Up top, I’ve gone for Duffy and Shodipo on either side of the striker. The former seems to get starts in this competition, and it’s for that reason alone progression would be good. I don’t mean Duffy; I mean giving fringe players more of a chance to impress. Mark Hone said after the Wolves game that nobody had given MK a headache with their performances – Duffy will be hoping that changes tonight. Going forward, a second-round tie might be a good chance to get Tyler Walker some minutes (if fit), or keep fringe players fresh. There’s a big benefit to it in that respect.
As for Mide, we’ve surely got to see him in action. We’ve only seen him twice, a cameo against Posh and then 63 minutes against Wolves U21s. He missed a sitter in that game, but I thought he looked promising, only for him to disappear since!
The big question after that is who starts up top? Jack Vale, saved on Saturday to give him 60 minutes? Danny Mandroiu, getting some time into his legs? Danny scored his first Imps goal in the group stages last season, and given his recent time off, we may opt to give him a bit of a runout. There’s Haks as well, a bundle of energy who might find his time up top limited as players come back.
Instead, I’m going for Jovon. He’s a bit of a mixed bag for me – at times, he looks a long way off League One pace, but then there are glimpses of his ability. He’s quick, he’s a good size, and you imagine if we could polish him, he might just be an asset. I think he could cause enough issues tonight to warrant a start.
With the early kick-off approaching, I’m going to get some dinner before settling down to watch a game I really didn’t care about. Until I did.
Up the Imps.