Marcus Braddock looks at how Sunday's opponents got to the final
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Lincoln City have played seven times in the Checkatrade Trophy on their way to the final and it all started back in late August when Lincoln visited Mansfield Town for their first group game. The home team started quite well with a goal in the first ten minutes but the Imps pulled it back to 1-1 just before half time with Elliott Whitehouse's 40th minute goal. A second goal looked to have sealed it for Lincoln in the 80th minute but Matt Green added a third to take their first points in the group stage.
Two months later Lincoln entertained Everton u21 on a late October evening. The home team took the lead after just three minutes, the result of a slick passing move and a rebound from the post to Jordan Maguire-Drew who finished well from the edge of the box. Twenty minutes later Maguire-Drew scored a classy free kick from outside the box which wouldn't have looked out of place in the Champions League. Everton scored a consolation goal but it wasn't enough and Lincoln earned another three points which put them top of their group. Sadly for Lincoln, Maguire-Drew is no longer at the club having returned to his parent club Brighton.
Their final group game saw the Imps host Notts County with the visitors taking the lead after 27 minutes when Jonathan Forte raced clear and finished well from an angle. An own goal saw Lincoln draw level after 37 minutes and loanee Josh Ginnelly scored the winner for Lincoln with four minutes remaining. Ginnelly is no longer with Lincoln having returned to his parent club.
With three wins from three group games, Lincoln had earned themselves a home tie against Accrington in the next round.
Lincoln were tested early on when Mallik Wilkes somehow managed so squeeze the ball past Imps keeper Paul Farman from distance. Lincoln managed to draw level in the 38th minute when Ollie Palmer found himself unmarked in the Accrington box and slotted it home. Accrington took the lead again five minutes later after a speculative extreme long shot from McConville hit the bar and then Farman in the Lincoln goal. The Imps dug deep and summoned a scrappy goal from Matt Green in first half stoppage time making it 2-2 at the break. Lincoln found a winner after an hour when a corner found the head of Sean Raggett who scored.
The next round was played in January 2018 and Lincoln found themselves facing League One opposition away from home. Hosts Rochdale put up stiff opposition in a game more notable for the poor state of the pitch than the football on display. In the end, substitute Ollie Palmer won the game for the Imps with a goal from close range in the 88th minute.
Two weeks later Peterborough visited Sincil Bank for the quarter final and again Lincoln conceded early on with an own goal from Neal Ardley, a sliced clearance that looped agonizingly into the goal giving Farman no chance. With half time approaching, Danny Rowe cut in from the right wing and curled a beauty past Bond in the Posh goal. Supporters were treated to another top quality goal from Peterborough's Danny Lloyd who scored from 35 yards. Lincoln equalized five minutes later when Matt Rhead was left unmarked on the back post and converted with ease. With the game looking like it might be in need of some Abba, Lincoln pressure late in the game resulted in two goals during stoppage time with goals from Harry Anderson and Matt Green with his third goal in the competition.
The semi final was another home game for the Imps, this time against Chelsea under 21s. The home team took the lead with Luke Waterfall rising above everyone else to nod in the opener. Six minutes later Daishawn Redan took advantage of confusion in the Lincoln box and equalized. This meant a penalty shoot-out with a trip to Wembley as the prize, so no pressure! In the end the home team came out on top five goals to four to become the first team to book their spot at the national stadium.