It’s far too early in the season for any match to be a “six pointer”, but with both City and their weekend opponents making strong starts to the campaign, Saturday will be a good judge of whether Matt Taylor’s side really has what it takes to mount a sustained promotion challenge. Taylor made a number of changes in the midweek Carabao Cup defeat at Fulham, with the likes of Jayden Stockley and Nicky Law not featuring while skipper Jake Taylor made a short cameo. The performances of several of City’s fringe players will, however, have given Taylor one or two selection headaches. Matt Jay made a strong case to deputise for the injured Jonathan Forte, while the return of Dean Moxey after suspension means Luke Croll and Craig Woodman have a fight for the left back slot. Archie Collins was singled out for praise, but he will likely be on the bench a day after turning 19.
After coming up short last season, Lincoln have shown great ambition during the summer and are many pundits’ favourite to sit atop the League Two table in May, and unlike Notts County they have lived fully up to these expectations so far, with four wins and a draw in their five games to top the table. Deciding in the summer that having one hulking brute up front in Matt Rhead wasn’t enough, the Cowley brothers took advantage of Barnet’s relegation to poach another in the shape of John Akinde, and he has four goals to his name already, albeit three from the spot. Other arrivals include Shay McCarten, impressive at this level with Accrington, while the likes of Lee Frecklington and Michael Bostwick have stacks of experience and quality.
City supporters will have very fond memories of the last encounter between the sides, coming as it did during the playoffs. After a goalless first leg at Sincil Bank, City ran out 3-1 winners at the Park thanks to a first half goal from Stockley before second half goal of the season contenders from Boateng and Harley. Matt Green pulled one back late on but it was the home fans who were jubilant as City booked a second successive season at the Wembley showpiece. The league encounters saw honours even – the corresponding fixture back in August was won 1-0 by City through Reuben Reid, before a pulsating encounter at Sincil Bank on Good Friday saw Lincoln win 3-2. City led at half time through Stockley, Rowe and Green then turned things round. Jake Taylor equalised, only for Ollie Palmer to confirm his “supersub” tag by notching the winner. Lincoln have the league head to head edge with 26 wins to City’s 19 (15 draws). Details of the last 22 encounters between the two sides can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9228
Match officials for the game are:
Referee Kevin Johnson
Assistant Referees: Ben Cobb and Ronald Ganfield
Fourth Official: Mark Russell
Johnson has refereed nine Exeter games, details of those games can be found at http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=%22kevin+johnson%22