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1516 burnley turf moor 04It’s FA Cup weekend, it’s FA Cup 5th round weekend and that doesn’t too often involve Burnley Football Club.

Having beaten Sunderland and Bristol City thus far, we are have reached this stage of the competition for the first time in six years, since Stuart Gray was in charge of the 3rd round win against Port Vale before Eddie Howe took over for the Burton Albion win and the 5th round defeat at the Boleyn Ground on a Monday night.

With Bristol City beaten three weeks ago, we all eagerly awaited the draw. No sooner had it started than it was over for us. Number 12 – BURNLEY, we were out first. Number 7 – LINCOLN CITY. We’d drawn one of the two non-league clubs left in the competition.

That makes us favourites, of course, but I’ve certainly been watching Burnley for far too long to believe it’s as simple as that. Some 42 years ago, in the 3rd round, we faced Southern League Wimbledon at home at a time when we were higher placed in English football than we are now. We all know what happened that day.

And, although we were a much worse side in November 1986, I don’t think any of us were quite expecting the embarrassing 3-0 defeat we suffered at Telford in a 1st round tie.

Even so, this Burnley team, no matter who plays, has more than enough about it to ensure we reach the 6th round for the first time in 14 years.

One player, if selected, will be looking forward to it. Sam Vokes has played in each of the three games so far, the two against Sunderland and the Bristol City 4th round game. He’s scored in two of those three games to take his total of FA Cup goals for Burnley to five.

His first came in the 3rd round defeat at Southampton in 2014 and a year later he scored his first goal on his return from cruciate ligament surgery against Spurs. A year ago he was on the mark at Arsenal before adding the first goals in each of the 2-0 wins this season.

“If I’m selected it would be nice to add to that total and progress through,” Sam said. “The cup has been good to us so far and for myself it’s been good to get a couple of goals.”

He added: “We are taking each round as it comes but we know the prize at the end of it and it’s something everyone wants to be involved in, the latter stages of a cup competition, so we will definitely be looking to progress.

“It will be good to complement our league status with a good cup run. We’re not getting carried away in the league. We don’t think it’s a job done at all. We’ve got a lot to fight for in that, but for us to have a cup run alongside that would be great.”

Sam will certainly have a big part to play in the Premier League during the rest of this season and I’m expecting him to play tomorrow with maybe both Ashley Barnes and Andre Gray getting a break.

We’ve made changes from the league side in every game so far and I expect that to continue tomorrow although Sean Dyche will not be able to call on the services of some of his players. Both Dean Marney and Steven Defour are out injured, Jeff Hendrick will serve the second match of his three match ban and Robbie Brady will not be permitted to play having already featured in the competition for Norwich.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see James Tarkowski in a holding role again as he was in the last round. Our team could be: Nick Pope, Tendayi Darikwa, Michael Keane, Ben Mee, Jon Flanagan, James Tarkowski, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Ashley Westwood, Joey Barton, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes. Subs: Paul Robinson, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Ashley Barnes, Andre Gray.

For Lincoln, the Red Imps, the FA Cup season started some time before ours. As a National League club they entered in the 4th qualifying round back in October when they beat Guiseley away in a replay having previously drawn at Sincil Bank.

Altrincham and Oldham were then both beaten at home in the first two rounds proper leading to a 3rd round tie at Ipswich. They drew at Portman Road before winning the replay and then sensationally beat Brighton 3-1 at home in the last round to reach tomorrow’s game.

It was a strong Brighton team too which included all of Steve Sidwell, Oliver Norwood and Glenn Murray.

Theo Robinson, once of clubs such as Huddersfield, Derby and Doncaster, has been something of a hero in front of goal. He got two in the 3-2 win against Oldham, scored both in the 2-2 draw at Ipswich and scored the last goal against Brighton, but he won’t feature tomorrow after moving on to Southend before the transfer window closed.

No matter what tomorrow’s result, this has been a successful cup run for the Imps who have reached the 5th round for the first time in over a century but, if successful will become the first non-league team in the last eight since QPR achieved it in 1914.

It’s not just in the cup either. They are currently English non-league football’s highest placed club. They lead the National League by three points over Dagenham & Redbridge with a game in hand and they know that getting back into the Football League is of far more importance.

Twice they’ve lost their Football League status. I think all Burnley fans will know then went down in 1987, the first club ever to suffer automatic relegation from the Football League. They were back a year later and remained in the league until 2011 when they went down with Stockport. They’ve certainly fared much better than Stockport have in the last six years.

What we do know is that Robinson is no longer available for them and neither is Josh Ginnelly, the Burnley player currently on loan there. Burnley would surely not have allowed him to play but it never arose with Ginnelly having already played in the competition for Walsall this season. They can field Joe Ward who wasn’t able to play in the last round because he is on loan from Brighton.

They’ll certainly have the oldest player tomorrow – Jimmy Walker is expected to be named substitute goalkeeper. He played over 400 league games for Walsall and is now aged 43.

The Lincoln team that beat Brighton was: Paul Farman, Bradley Wood, Sam Habergham, Luke Waterfall, Alan Power, Matt Rhead, Terry Hawkridge, Sean Raggett, Nathan Arnold, Alex Woodyard, Theo Robinson. Subs: Jimmy Walker, Jack Muldoon, Adam Marriott, Sean Long, Taylor Miles, Jamie McCombe, Archie Moyses.

 

LAST TIME THERE WERE HERE

 

The last time Lincoln visited Turf Moor was on 28th December 1998. Both teams were struggling, Burnley close to the bottom with Lincoln right down in bottom place.

Without the injured Andy Payton, Burnley didn’t really look like scoring for much of the afternoon and things were even worse with a shocker of a performance from referee Phil Dowd who waved yellow cards around like confetti for much of the game and finally sent off Burnley’s Brian Reid just before the end.

By then, Lincoln had taken the lead through John Finnigan with substitute Kevin Henderson, who had come on for Phil Eastwood, scoring his only Burnley league goal nine minutes from time.

Lincoln it was who almost won it at the end; it took a superb save from Paul Crichton to deny Lincoln’s Phil Stant a winner. That would have condemned Burnley to an eighth defeat in ten games.

The team were booed off but manager Stan Ternent was very defensive of his players but admitted: “Sooner or later I will get a settled side and we will be fine.”

By the time we played again we had signed Graham Branch and Steve Davis with Micky Mellon coming in for the game after that.

The teams in the Lincoln game were;

Burnley: Paul Crichton, Ally Pickering, Chris Brass, Peter Swan, Brian Reid, Gordon Armstrong, Steve Morgan, Mark Ford, Mark Robertson, Andy Cooke, Phil Eastwood (Kevin Henderson). Sub not used: Rune Vindheim.

Lincoln: John Vaughan, Jason Barnett, Stuart Bimson, Steve Holmes, Julian Watts, Gary Brabin, Terry Fleming, John Finnigan, Lee Thorpe (Colin Alcide), Tony Battersby (Phil Stant), Paul Miller. Sub not used: Paul Smith.

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