Much has changed in the fourteen years since Town were in the leagueâ€™s
basement division - they have been promoted three times, relegated three
times and visited Wembley twice. The sides may have met in the league cup in
2001, but this game is far more important with the two sides separated by
just two points in league two.
The success of the past two seasons has undoubtedly raised expectations at
Sincil Bank. Former Mariner Keith Alexander (left) took over from
Alan Buckley in 2002 and has guided the Imps to the play offs both last
season and the season before that. This year they will want more of the
same, but have had to make up for a pretty poor start to the season - where
they won just two of their opening 13 games. But since October, Alexanderâ€™s
side started to string some victories together, and despite a poor December,
still sit in mid table and within striking distance of the play offs.
At the heart of the Imps defence in recent years has been Northern Ireland
defender Paul Morgan, who was signed by Alan Buckley from Preston in
2001. He usually plays in a back three along with Ben Futcher, son of
Mariners legend Paul Futcher. Futcher put in a transfer request at the end
of last season, and has been linked with numerous clubs, but the 6 foot 5
stopper has continued to impress at the back for the Imps. Former Mariner
Matt Bloomer (left) has started 17 games for Lincoln this term - he
has appeared in central defence, right wing back and even up front in recent
seasons. In midfield, Peter Gain is regarded as one of the best
midfielders in the division but fortunately for the Mariners, has been
injured of late and will probably miss out. This meant Keith Alexander
dipping into the transfer market the other week to sign Ritchie
Hanlon from Stevenage. Combative midfielder Richard Butcher was
snapped up by Lincoln from non league Kettering. Indeed, many of Alexanderâ€™s
buys have been from non league clubs. Perhaps the most successful being
Simon Yeo, who was brought in from Hyde United and has netted 8 goals
this season. Also with a non league background is last years top scorer
Gary Taylor Fletcher who could return after recent injury. In attack,
the vastly experienced Martin Carruthers was brought in from Boston
as part of a swap deal with Dean West, while Marcus Richardson had a
couple of loan spells with Lincoln last season before the move was made
Alan Marriott (left) has been Cityâ€™s number one keeper for the past
few seasons and is highly regarded by Keith Alexander. A real fans
favourite, Marriott is an excellent shot stopper who, like many goalkeepers
who have faced Town this year, could be the difference between the two
Currently 17th in League
Currently 13th in League
Dean Gordon and Colin Cramb have now left the club meaning
they will not be involved in the game. They were both on the bench on Boxing
Day, meaning that the likes of Darren Mansaram, Graham
Hockless and even Simon Ramsden could make the bench.
In attack Russell Slade must choose between Michael Reddy and
Andy Parkinson to partner new signing Martin Gritton.
Parkinson is more likely to get the nod, with Reddy once again on the bench.
Slade is likely to stick with the 3-5-2 formation to counter
Lincolnâ€™s three man attack, with Rob Jones continuing at the back.
Strike duo Francis Green and Gary Taylor-Fletcher could
return after a couple of weeks out. Taylor Fletcher could go straight into
the starting lineup, whilst Green may have to settle for a place on the
Peter Gain has been out for a few weeks with a knee injury and
looks set to miss out again, whilst Irish defender Gareth McAuley has
been struggling with a calf injury which could rule him out.
|27||Gary Taylor Fletcher|
Head to Head
Town and Lincoln have met 84 times in the FA Cup, League Cup and the League
itself (not counting Lincolnshire Cup), despite facing each other just once
in the last 14 years (in 2001 in the League Cup). The Mariners have the edge
of the Imps, with 37 wins to Lincolnâ€™s 25 - but Town have not won at Sincil
Bank since 1957 when they ran out 4-1 winners.
P 84 W 37 D 22 L 25 F 162 A
(15th on The Opposition
Down the years, there have been many players (and managers) that have
had links with both clubs. In the 1980s, there was a long list of players
who played for both sides. George Kerr, like Keith Alexander -
had two spells in charge of Lincoln. He was sacked after just a year in 1978
before he joined Town and again from 1985-1987, resulting in Lincolnâ€™s
relegation from the football league in 1987.
Those to appear for Lincoln were the likes of Kevin Kilmore,
Bobby Mitchell, Jimmy Gilligan and Gary Lund. Once
Lincoln were relegated and Colin Murphy took over he brought in Nigel
Batch and Bobby Cumming with instant results - promotion back
into the Fourth Division at the very first attempt. Both of these players
were of course Town legends, clocking up 783 appearances between them for
Gordon Hobson was highly regarded by both Town and Imps fans.
He scored 73 goals in 272 appearances for Lincoln before moving to the
Mariners in 1985. He played just 52 times for Town (scoring 18 goals) before
he was snapped up by Chris Nicholl at Southampton. He later rejoined the
Imps in the late 1980s, continuing to bang in the goals with 22 in 61 games.
Paul Groves had a brief loan spell at Sincil Bank at the start
of the 1989/90 season - the last time Town were in the bottom division
before their relegation in May.
Current Mariner Terry Fleming was at Lincoln for five years
between 1995 and 2000, when he made 188 starts for the Imps. Lee Thorpe
was also at Lincoln for a few seasons - he of course had a short loan
spell with Town last season.
When legendary Town manager Alan Buckley (above) took over at
Sincil Bank in 2001; many ex-Mariners followed. Kingsley Black, who
of course scored for Town at Wembley made 30 starts for the Imps before
having the remainder of his contract paid up when Lincoln were in
administration a few years back.
Adam Buckley>, Alanâ€™s son, made 19 starts for Lincoln but last
year was found guilty of stealing from his team-mates. Similarly to Black,
Ian Hamilton was another to have the remainder of his contract paid
up after joining from Notts County in 2001. Hamilton had a six game loan
spell for Town in 1999 when the Mariners were in the First Division.
Luke Cornwall formed a good partnership with Livvo for the
Mariners under Lennie Lawrence, but had a disappointing loan spell with the
Imps in the 2002/03 season. He played for both Bradford and Woking last
The last time Town met Lincoln was in the League Cup in 2001 when Town won
2-1 with late goals from Phil Jevons and Jonny Rowan. Alan Buckley was
managing Lincoln and returned to Blundell Park for the first time since his
dismissal in 2000. Tony Battersby had given the Imps the lead after 34
minutes, but Town pushed forward to win the game. Starting a League Cup run
that saw them beat Liverpool at Anfield until they were beaten by Arsenal at
Highbury. The previous league meeting was in 1990 when a Dave Gilbert
penalty in front of over 11,000 at Blundell Park saw Town win 1-0. The last
league game at Sincil Bank was a 1-1 draw with Keith Alexander, now Imps
manager of course, scoring for Town and Paul Smith netting for Lincoln.
Grimsby Team: Coyne, McDermott, Gallimore, Chapman (Ford, 79),
Willems, Pouton, Campbell, Groves, Butterfield, Jeffrey (Rowan, 69),
Subs: (not used) Ermes, Busscher, Morgan
Lincoln Team: Marriott, Barnett, Bimson, Morgan, Holmes, Sedgemore,
Black, Finnigan, Battersby (Walker, 88), Thorpe, Gain
Subs: (not used) Buckley, Brown, Pettinger
Attendance: 5,906 Report
Mmmm, so far I have been ridiculously rubbish at predicting scores this season - Town are rubbish away from home and Lincoln are a better away side. Therefore a 1-1 draw seems sensible!
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