The Glam Rock sounds of Sweet’s Blockbuster were dominating the charts when Lincoln City last made the 250-mile round trek to Blackburn, but 45 years on and the Imps will be eyeing a notable Carabao Cup scalp when they finally make a return journey to Ewood Park tonight.
The Imps came away nursing bruised limbs and egos following a 4-1 defeat in early 1973, which came days after a 2-2 draw at Sincil Bank, while you have to go back to 1957 to find the last time City beat Rovers on their own patch.
Under Danny Cowley, though, the Imps and the phrase ‘cup upset’ have become bedfellows once more, although City face a fiendishly tough quest if they are to add Blackburn to their long list of victims under the former Braintree boss. Lincoln may top League Two following a superb start to the season, but Rovers are unbeaten after five Championship games, are riding high in fifth spot and demolished another fourth-tier side in Carlisle in the first round.
With a tough League game against fellow promotion hopefuls Exeter City to come on Saturday afternoon, boss Cowley will no doubt opt to mix things up again and having already said he intends to use his squad during a busy week, in which the Imps play three games in eight days, it could be chance for the likes of Joan Luque, and Adam Crookes to get their chances to shine, while Matt Rhead and Matt Green could come back in up front, with John Akinde possibly making way.
“We will have to make changes,” admitted Cowley, who also insisted the league programme was the priority this season. “We will use the whole squad as that’s the right thing to do for this group.”
Spaniard Luque, who finally made his Imps debut against Notts County at the weekend, albeit for an all-too-brief couple of minutes, could line up in a new-look midfield although his inexperience at this level may be a stumbling block especially against a quality side like Blackburn.
The unlucky James Wilson, who has been shunted to fourth-choice central defender following the arrival of Jason Shackell, is likely to start with Michael Bostwick expected to be rested, while fellow centre-back Scott Wharton is ineligible to play against his parent club. Crookes could come in to replace Eardley, or even Toffolo, with Harry Anderson also possibly in line to play right wing-back again.
Further back, Sam Slocombe could be given the nod to play ahead of Grant Smith, although the arrangements over his loan deal do not make it clear whether he is eligible or not, but there is no reason to suggest he cannot.
Skipper Lee Frecklington was rested for the previous round’s 4-0 defeat of Port Vale and Ellis Chapman may be handed another start, while the aforementioned Rhead and Green could play up top as Akinde still is not firing on all cylinders, and could well do without another game in quick succession to Saturday’s defeat of Notts County as he builds up his match fitness.
Blackburn will have Bradley Dack back after recovering from a knee injury, while new loan signing Harrison Reed could make his debut following his recent switch from Southampton, although strikers Adam Armstrong and Dominic Samuel will miss out with ankle and knee problems respectively.
Under Cowley, City have progressed the furthest they ever have in the Checkatrade Trophy and FA Cup, while equalled their best-ever run in the FA Trophy. Only the League Cup remains and although it promises to be a testing evening for the Imps, who would bet against them from booking a place in the third round and another evening against one of the game’s big boys?
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) August 28, 2018