PREVIEW: Lincoln City v Luton Town

Lincoln City are having a tough time of it both on and off the field this season, their second in the Blue Square Bet Premier, writes Mike Simmonds.

The Imps have got one of their smallest budgets in a number of years and are currently having to hold back on treatment for injured players too.

Speaking about the situation, boss David Holdsworth said: “The club has spent a lot in the last two years with injuries and scans.

“We, as a club, have to be careful. Where in the past with an individual we would get them scanned, we are more reflective now, we have to be more patient.

“I estimate that we spent £30,000 last year on scans and opinions. The club cannot afford scans and as a manager you can only do what your club can afford in terms of its finances.”

The club are also looking to leave their Sincil Bank home and are currently in talks with a backer who could invest substantial funds.

On the pitch, results have not gone how Lincoln would have wanted at all as they sit 19th in the table with just 12 points from 12 games.

It didn’t start too badly with a 1-0 home win over Kidderminster, but what followed was a run of seven games without a win, including four defeats.

The Imps finally turned it round by beating Hyde 3-2 and won their last home encounter against Nuneaton too, meaning they are currently unbeaten in two in front of their own fans.

There was quite a player turnaround at the club in the summer with Kyle Perry, Paul Green and Joe Anyon among a number who left, with the likes of Conal Platt, Adam Smith and Andrew Boyce all joining to boost the squad.

Lincoln also moved to bring in former Wales U21 full back Peter Gilbert on non-contract terms this week. The 29-year-old has played for Leicester, Sheffield Wednesday and Northampton before being released by Southend United in the summer and goes into the squad for Saturday’s clash.

Team news: Hatters have Janos Kovacs back in the squad after he was rested recently, but doubts remain over Dean Beckwith (groin). Danny Spiller is finally back in light training, although the likes of Garry Richard and James Dance are still out.

The Imps are without Rob Duffy (ankle), John Nutter (hamstring), Alan Power (ankle) and Conal Platt (leg).

Man in the middle: Ross Joyce - Reffed seven Conference games so far this season, showing 21 yellow cards and two reds, both in the same match between Hyde and Southport.

His second visit to Sincil Bank this campaign after being in charge when the Imps were beaten 3-2 at home by Macclesfield on August 25.

Top BSBP scorer: Imps – Jamie Taylor, Nicky Nicolau (3). Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (9).

In charge: David Holdsworth – twin brother of striker Dean Holdsworth, the former centre back played for Watford, Sheffield United, Birmingham City, Walsall, Bolton Wanderers, Scarborough and Gretna, also capped once for England at U21 level.

After retiring from playing he became reserve team manager at Gretna, but was sacked in a cost-cutting exercise a few months later.

Started life as a manager in May 2008 taking over at Northern Premier League Premier Division side Ilkeston Town.

Joined Mansfield Town on December 29 of the same year, but left by mutual consent on November 18, 2010 and was named Imps boss in October, 2011 replacing Steve Tilson.

View from the opposition: David Holdsworth - “This month was always going to be a tough month coming up against four of the best teams in the league but I look forward to things like that!

“I’m not happy with our position in the table. We could be further up the division, but it is tight and one or two wins lifts you right up it.

“Injuries have been a big issues. If I do get the opportunity to field the strongest squad then I feel very confident, but we are missing players who would make a big difference in terms of their experience.”

One to watch: Nicky Nicolau. Defender who started his career at Arsenal, but left without playing for the Gunners taking in the likes of Southend, Swindon, Hereford, Barnet before moving to Lincoln last August.

Scored three goals in his last six games, so Hatters will need to watch out from his threat at set-pieces.

Friendly faces: Janos Kovacs – Hungarian centre-half joined Lincoln from Chesterfield in June 2008 and made over 50 appearances for the Imps before moving on in January 2010 to start his first spell at Kenilworth Road.

We’ve got form: Hatters are unbeaten in their last six trips to Sincil Bank and haven’t lost in almost 46 years, although that was quite a pasting, as they were hammered 8-1 on December 3, 1966.

Town have only conceded once in their last four visits, while the last two games have ended in draws, but Luton last won in 2001-02 when Matthew Taylor netted the winner, while current coaches Carl Emberson and Alan Neilson were part of that team that day.

Town have never won by more than one goal though, their best result a 3-2 triumph in the 1967-68 campaign, while they were involved in a 4-4 thiller back in the 1948-49 campaign.

In total, Town have made 17 trips to Lincoln, winning five, drawing eight and losing four times, scoring 25 goals, but conceding 33 times.

Last time out: Last season, Danny Crow put Town into the lead after scoring on 37 minutes, but as so often happened, Hatters let a late leveller in, with Richard Hinds equalising after 77 minutes.

Town ended with nine men too as Alex Lawless was sent off on 85 minutes, while half time substitute Jamie Hand followed suit in the 90th minute.

Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, Dan Gleeson, George Pilkington (Jamie Hand 46), Jake Howells, Janos Kovacs, Keith Keane, Alex Lawless, Robbie Willmott (James Dance 74), Danny Crow, Aaron O’Connor (Ryan Brunt 82), Adam Watkins.

Attendance: 2,049.

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