Wimbledon have been knocked out of the FA Cup by lower-league opposition in the last two seasons, so will desperate to avoid defeat at Kingsmeadow tomorrow.
A draw will do little to satisfy growing discontent amongst the Dons fanbase however, and the addition of an extra fixture for a thin squad would be most unwelcome.
But Lincoln are a tough prospect, having reached the Quarter Finals of the competition last season as a non-league side, before they finished the season by winning promotion to League Two.
The Imps beat Oldham, Ipswich, Brighton, and Premier League Burnley as part of an incredible run in the last campaign, and a thousand travelling fans will be anticipating another upset against the struggling Dons.
Lincoln sit ninth in League Two, just three points outside the play-off places. They have lost just one of their last seven games, but goals are at a premium for the Sincil Bank side: only three teams have scored fewer than them in the league, but they have the second-best defensive record.
Wimbledon’s struggle to score is well-publicised: they failed to find the net in their last two League One games, losing both 1-0, which set them back a little after two consecutive wins against Northampton and Rotherham had promised a return to the form which had taken them to the play-off places this time last year.
Danny Cowley, assisted by his brother Nicky, is highly-rated, but this season is his first as a Football League manager. The 39-year-old’s playing career was ended by injury in 2007, at which point he went into management, spending nine successful years in non-league with Essex sides Concord Rangers and Braintree Town. He took over at Lincoln last season, and at his first attempt, returned them to League Two after a six year absence.
Imps’ Key Man
Michael Bostwick has been playing in a defensive-midfield role this season, and has been key in the organisation and solidity of his side. With over 250 Football League appearances, the vocal 29-year-old joined Lincoln from Peterborough United in the summer, and has established himself as a leader on and off the field.
Playing Lyle Taylor would be a huge gamble for the Dons. The forward came off during Wimbledon’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Luton in midweek with an aggravation to a calf injury that has plagued him for a little while. Coaching staff at the club are hopeful he will be ready for tomorrow, but if he does play, he will be well below 100 per cent and could risk further injury. However, if he misses out, Wimbledon will be left with just one fit centre-forward in Cody McDonald, who is without a league goal this campaign.
Centre-half Sean Raggett might miss out for Lincoln, if his parent club Norwich do not give him permission to play. If he does miss out, Bostwick or club captain Luke Waterfall will likely take his place.
Andy Woolmer has taken charge of just three games this season, all in League Two, averaging two bookings a game. His last visit to Kingsmeadow was in August 2015, for the 2-1 defeat to Cambridge United in League Two. In 12 matches featuring either Wimbledon or Lincoln, he has yet to show a red card.
There have been no previous meetings between Lincoln and AFC Wimbledon, however in the early 1980s, the old Wimbledon FC played the Imps six times in the old Divisions Three and Four – winning two, drawing two, and yes, losing two.
Danny Cowley, Lincoln City manager
“It’s as tough a draw as you can get – a League One side away from home – but it’s a game we’re really looking forward to.
“We enjoyed the FA Cup last year. It changed all of our lives. We’re looking forward re-entering it. We know what it means to our supporters and the city of Lincoln.
“We know Lyle Taylor very well. We had him at Concord Rangers and in my second season as a manager he scored almost 40 goals.
“He was the only contracted player we ever had at Concord and we sold him on to Bournemouth which was a brilliant move for him. He’s gone on to have a great career.”
Simon Bassey, Wimbledon first-team coach
“We know all about Lincoln. I know Danny Cowley and everyone in the country was full of admiration for them last season. Our job is to try and replicate that this season and try not to let them do it this time.
“They will come here with a noisy crowd and Danny likes to whip them up. With the way that they play, they get their crowd up for it, but we are fully aware of what our crowd can do for us, and I’m sure they will do it.
“Lyle (Taylor) is okay and we are hoping he will be fit. We will keep an eye on him, but he was out and about on Thursday, so we are hopeful that he will be fine.”
Terrace and seat tickets will be available to buy on the day tomorrow for £15 and £18 adults, £10 and £14 concessions, and £5 and £8 for under-18s respectively.
Wimbledon 21/20; Draw 12/5; Lincoln 13/5.
The respective goalscoring abilities of these sides, and their relative defence stability, means a goalless draw is the most likely outcome. If there was any evidence to suggest otherwise, we’d use it, promise!