Lincoln v Ipswich
Tuesday January 17, 20:05
Live on BBC1
Lincoln defied their non-league status by pushing Ipswich all the way in their FA Cup third Round tie at Portman Road 10 days ago. Theo Robinson had twice given the Imps the lead in Suffolk only for Tom Lawrence to salvage a replay with just four minutes left on the clock.
Manager Danny Cowley acknowledged Lincoln were the better team on the day, saying: "We probably out-performed ourselves in the first game. We got to levels we weren't sure we were capable of." And the boss is now keen to make amends in front of the club's biggest crowd since the turn of the century at Sincil Bank.
Cowley made six changes to his side for Saturday's 3-1 FA Trophy triumph at Gateshead with skipper Luke Waterfall, winger Nathan Arnold and striker Robinson left out of the squad entirely with Tuesday night's contest in mind.
The Imps' victory means they are still fighting for success in three competitions and the prospect of a double of the National League title and a Wembley triumph in the Trophy remains possible.
Tom Lawrence was again the star for Ipswich at the weekend as his two goals helped the Tractor Boys to a 3-2 win over relegation-threatened Blackburn at Portman Road. Having been booed off by supporters after their stalemate with the Imps, Mick McCarthy's men received a more favourable reception.
Ipswich were frozen into passivity when welcoming Lincoln and rightly faced criticism for their poor performance - the Imps won the shots on-target count 7-5 on the day - but Saturday's display from McCarthy's men was bold and brave.
Town fired in nine shots on-target against Rovers as their wing-back system paid dividends. However, two typically sloppy goals were conceded made life unnecessarily difficult and Tuesday's visitors are also down to the bare bones.
Brett Pitman and David McGoldrick's injuries leave just Freddie Sears and out-of-favour Leon Best as the only available senior strikers while left-back Myles Kenlock is still out, along with long-term absentees Tommy Smith, Luke Hyam, Teddy Bishop and Giles Coke.
National League leaders Lincoln 3.45 have built their campaign upon a strong Sincil Bank record (W9-D3-L2), where the Imps are the league's top scoring home team with 31 goals.
The Imps have taken only 11 (W3-D2-L1) points from 18 when welcoming top-half teams in the fifth-tier and so on first sight Cowley's charges do look a little on the skinny side. However, National League teams do boast a decent record when hosting Championship clubs in the Premier League era.
National League sides have W4-D4-L7 at home to the second-tier, only trailing at half-time in five of these games, suffering only three defeats by more than one goal and scoring in 13. Chuck in Ipswich's rotten FA Cup record - Town haven't won an FA Cup game since 2009/10 (W0-D4-L7), failing to advance past the third round in any of their past six attempts - and perhaps an upset is on.
McCarthy has treated both knockout competitions as an unwanted distraction during his four years at the Suffolk giants, often making sweeping changes. Ipswich's cup record - W2-D4-L7 - in that time reflects his approach and makes opposing the Tractor Boys the best angle to take.
We can therefore back Lincoln with a +0/0.5 start on the Asian Handicap line at 2.0421/20, a selection that would see us make money should the Imps avoid defeat in 90 minutes.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Lincoln are averaging 2.21 goals per-game in league duty at Sincel Bank and their forward-thinking approach caused Ipswich numerous problems at Portman Road. The hosts have fired a solitary blank since September and nine (64%) of their National League fixtures as hosts broke the 2.5 goals barrier.
McCarthy's visitors have notched in six of their most recent nine Championship outings and with exactly half of their 12 road trips producing three or more goals, backing a repeat at 1.794/5 is advised following the pair's exciting encounter at the start of the month.
Back Lincoln +0/0.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.0421/20
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.794/5