Lincoln City will think they’re the favourites, says Ipswich Town manager
Ipswich Town take on non-league side Lincoln City in an FA Cup Third Round replay, at Sincil Bank, this evening.
The game will be broadcast live on BBC One (8.05pm ko) and, with a winner required on the night, there is the possibility of extra-time and penalties to determine who hosts Championship table-toppers Brighton in the next round.
Everyone, bar Blues fans, will be keen to see a classic underdog upset with 58 places separating the two teams in the pyramid.
That gap wasn’t apparent at Portman Road 10 days ago when the Imps – backed by close to 5,000 vocal travelling fans – came very close to victory.
Danny Cowley’s men, top of the National League table, played with confidence and twice led through Theo Robinson goals. Ipswich seemed to freeze under the pressure but in-form Leicester loanee Tom Lawrence got them out of jail with two fine finishes.
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Lincoln haven’t made the Fourth Round since 1976. Ipswich haven’t won an FA Cup game since 2010.
The last time the Blues were knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league opposition (Peterborough) was in 1960. Their last BBC televised victory was at Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup (November 2001).
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Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy knows just how motivated Lincoln City will be tonight, but believes his team will cope with the pressure.
“I’ve been there,” said the Blues boss. “As a lower league player at Barnsley we had a good Cup run and beat Brighton, Swansea, Manchester City, who were all First Division teams. We went to Liverpool and drew too.
“It’s easy to be motivated for these games when you’re the underdog. It’s easy to be wound up because there is everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose.
“I don’t know how much extra it gives, you’d have to speak to a psychologist, but all I know is that when I played in those games I really wanted to upset the applecart. I really wanted to rub their noses in it, I really wanted to hurt them – both with the result and physically. I was unbelievably motivated.
He added: “I had 24 thousand Barnsley fans telling me they wanted a ticket because they’d been to every game, even though we’d been playing in front of four thousand! It creates an unbelievable buzz in the town and that’s what it will be like at Lincoln at the minute.”
Is there a chance his players could freeze under the pressure of expectation tonight?
“We’ll see,” replied McCarthy. “We’ve had the first game, we’ve had a look at each other, we’ve done the dancing around the handbags haven’t we? We can get on with it now. Is it a tougher game for us now because we’re there? Or is it a tougher game for them because they are at home and fancied to win? Let’s wait and see.”
Asked if his team were still the favourites to progress, McCarthy said: “Not if you judge how the game went here, but if you think about the leagues we are in then everybody will put as favourites.
“I think they fancy it and probably think they are favourites, even though they will put us up as favourites. I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter.
“If we play as well as we can, and perform like we did at the weekend (3-2 home win over Blackburn), and like we did against QPR and Bristol City, then it will be a damn sight tougher game for them.”
He added: “We tried to show our players as much of Lincoln as we could, and give them plenty of information, but it’s never the same looking at it on the TV.
“It was a bit of a surprise to them, maybe a bit of a shock to them. It was a rude awakening for all of us. We have to match them for aggression this time and if we do I expect a different result.
“They had their chance and should have won the game. It’s different now. They’ve got us coming up there now.
“The BBC have taken it thinking it will be a big upset. Well, we’ll see.”
Danny Cowley made six changes to the team that lined up at Portman Road, but the Imps were still able to seal a 3-1 win at Gateshead in the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse should start after missing the first match with swollen knees. Dean Gerken will once again replace Bartosz Bialkowski.
Myles Kenlock (calf) will be sidelined for another three weeks.
“He was close to nicking that shirt and I think Jonas (Knudsen) knows that,” said McCarthy. “Strangely enough it has been a good response from Jonas.”
McCarthy added: “I might make a couple of changes, but I’m not playing kids.”