The last time we played Lincoln at The Valley was the penultimate game of last season. The visitors had been top of the league for most of the winter but, despite slipping back to fourth place, they were already guaranteed a play-off spot.
Our 3-1 win that day meant that our top six hopes would remain alive at least until the end of the week. Lincoln went on to beat Sunderland in the play-off semi final and to take a first minute lead against Blackpool at Wembley. In the end their 1-2 defeat meant another season in League One for Michael Appleton's side.
This season has been more of a struggle for The Imps and they have been in the bottom half since the start, albeit without ever looking in trouble. Last season their goal tally was 69 but they have only managed 43 so far this time. The loss of Jorge Grant to Peterborough and the return of loanee Brennan Johnson to Nottingham Forest have proved costly. Anthony Scully is still there and has eight League goals although he has not featured for the last six games. They are not short of experience up front with veterans Chris Maguire and John Marquis supporting Tom Hopper.
Lincoln have lost ten home games this season (including to Gillingham and Doncaster recently) but their form on their travels is very respectable. Their six away wins include triumphs at Wigan, Plymouth and Sunderland and they only lost narrowly at Rotherham two weeks ago. Last weekend they went down 0-1 at Shrewsbury and they will arrive in SE7 in 18th place but nine points clear of Wimbledon in 21st.
With relegation now avoided some fans have urged Johnnie Jackson to give game time to some of the under 23 players in preparation for next season but, with the next four games being against teams with something to play for, it doesn't seem very likely that he will do so:
“We try to win every game. My concern is Charlton. I always pick a team that can win the game, regardless of who we’re up against. Anyone I pick will be there on merit. Who I pick won’t be to do with outside factors – who we’re playing and where they are in the league will not be factors. Because the team I pick will be capable of winning the game."
A win on Saturday coupled with the Accrington v Cheltenham game ending in a draw would mean that we would be in twelfth place - in the top half of the table for the first time since December. Getting any higher will be difficult given the eight point gap currently between twelfth and eleventh but, if they can hang on to twelfth, the current squad will at least avoid the shame of finishing lower than their 1973/74 counterparts who could only manage fourteenth.
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