Sunderland travel to Lincoln for the first time in twenty years hoping to pile the misery on new Imps boss Michael Appleton. The Lads are looking to make it three wins on the bounce in all competitions, while newly-promoted Lincoln are desperate to halt a demoralising run of nine defeats in eleven games, a run which has worsened since the departure of their much-loved manager Danny Cowley to Championship side Huddersfield Town.
Jack Ross will be buoyed by the positive performance last time out against MK Dons and putting Appleton’s side to the sword would be an excellent send-off for the travelling supporters before the upcoming international break.
Jack Ross Says...
I think our overall record has been decent.
To have lost one in 13 games for most people is a good start.
I do think we’ll keep improving. If you look at the make-up of our recruitment in the summer and look at the starting XI last Saturday, it was the first time that many of those players have been up to match speed and match fitness because they were recruited late in the window.
I think we saw in this league last year, there were teams that got off to a flyer and struggled to maintain it. It’s difficult in this division. Likewise, there were teams that got off to a slow start and then put together a really strong run.
We’re in a very similar position to where we were at this stage last season, and last season we were there or thereabouts until that very last part of the season. So, the challenge for us is to improve upon that.
Last season for different circumstances people believed we made a good start, even though we had an identical start in terms of points. Like last year, the start gives us a platform to go and be successful. We’ve just got to make sure as the season unfolds, we take that and we don’t fall short.
Aiden McGeady and Marc McNulty are back in contention after returning to training during the week. McGeady didn’t feature in the Lads’ last two games, while McNulty has been missing since scoring in the 1-1 draw with Rotherham United.
Ross confirmed that the pair will be in the matchday squad travelling to Lincoln and will provide a different option in attack. Charlie Wyke has led the line in the past two games but should McNulty be passed fit on Saturday, the Scotsman could reprise his role in attack flanked my McGeady and Lyden Gooch.
New signings Joel Lynch and Laurens De Bock have impressed since coming into the team and it is expected they will keep their place at Sincil Bank, as Ross looks to have finally found a settled defence.
View From The Opposition
Tipped by many pundits to be the dark horses for promotion, the Imps started the season on fire. Under the stewardship of the highly-rated Cowley brothers, the newly-promoted side won their opening three matches without conceding a goal. However, since the bright lights of Huddersfield tempted Danny and Nicky Cowley away, they have been brought back to earth with a bump.
Lincoln are in a wretched run of form, losing four of their last five league games, including a 6-0 home humbling against Oxford United. Former U’s boss Michael Appleton has taken the reins at Sincil Bank and is still searching for his first success after back-to-back defeats against Blackpool and Manchester United U21s.
However, the henchest man in English football is relishing the prospect of welcoming Sunderland to Sinny Bank in what he describes as “the biggest test at this level”.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Appleton said:
I think the game will be very difficult. They’re a team that have some very good individuals, both defensively and attacking wise.
There’s one I know very well in Chris Maguire, who I have signed a couple of times already. The likes of (Luke) O’Nien also who is on decent scoring form too. They will provide us with different threats at different stages of the game.
The club [Lincoln] can’t always keep rising, there will be a point where the club plateaus. That is where you will see a real test in the character of the players, and from a management point of view it gives you clarity around individuals.
You don’t learn that much about your players when you’re winning from a mentality point of view, and you end up managing more of the lads that aren’t in the team.
But when things aren’t going so well on the pitch, you learn who the mentally strong characters are and who will dig deep for you.
Venue: Sincil Bank, Lincoln
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Last season position: 1st (League Two)
Last 5 results:
(L1) MK Dons (H) 2-1
(LC) Sheffield United (A) 1-0
(L1) Bolton Wanderers (A) 1-1
(L1) Rotherham United (H) 1-1
(L1) Accrington Stanley (A) 3-1
(LT) Manchester United U21s (H) 0-1
(L1) Blackpool (A) 1-2
(L1) Oxford United (H) 0-6
(L1) Rochdale (A) 1-1
(L1) Bristol Rovers (H) 0-1
The Lads at Sincil Bank
02 Jan 1999 (FAC) Lincoln City 0-1 Sunderland (McCann)
09 Sep 1970 (LC) Lincoln City 2-1 Sunderland (Kerr)
14 Jan 1961 (D2) Lincoln City 1-2 Sunderland (Lawther, Anderson)
28 Dec 1959 (D2) Lincoln City 0-0 Sunderland
23 Aug 1958 (D2) Lincoln City 3-1 Sunderland (Grainger)
Top goalscorers (in all competitions)
5 - Tyler Walker
3 - Harry Anderson
2 - John Akinde
2 - Bruno Andrade
1 - Jorge Grant
Last Time We Met
You have to go all the way back to the halcyon days of pre-millennium England to find the last time Sunderland graced the sunlit uplands of Lincoln. Peter Reid’s swashbuckling soon-to-be-champions headed to Sincil Bank in the opening days of 1999 for a third round FA Cup tie.
Playing on a ploughed field, the Lads were put in front thanks to a fresh-faced Gavin McCann who managed to score despite being tackled at the same time. Meanwhile, Martin Scott broke both his legs in a tasty challenge and the Lads advanced to be knocked out by Blackburn Rovers in the next round.