Lincoln boss Michael Appleton looking forward to Sunderland play-off test



Posted Sunday, May 09, 2021 by PA

Lincoln boss Michael Appleton looking forward to Sunderland play-off test

Lincoln boss Michael Appleton says he is relishing facing Sunderland in the Sky Bet League One play-offs.

The Imps rounded off the regular season with a goalless draw against AFC Wimbledon, while the Black Cats were held 1-1 at home by Northampton.

It meant the sides stayed fourth and fifth in the table, with Lincoln at home in the first leg on Wednesday, May 19 (6pm), with the second leg at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, May 22 (3pm).

The sides have met three times already this season, with Sunderland winning 4-0 at the LNER Stadium in December, shortly after Lee Johnson was appointed as manager.

The other two meetings, both at the Stadium of Light, ended 1-1.

In the first of those, in February, the Black Cats won on penalties to reach the final of the Papa John’s Trophy.

“Against them here, we should have been two up before they scored,” said Appleton. “But in the two games up there, I thought we were good.

“In the league game I thought we were excellent and we were disappointed to only come away with a point.

“It just goes to show how far we’ve come. Hopefully, over the next nine or 10 days, we can get ourselves mentally and physically prepared for what’s going to be an exciting game.”

On the draw with Wimbledon – a game of few chances – Appleton said: “It was how I thought it might be. I was hoping it would be a bit different.

“It had a bit of an end-of-season feel about it for both teams and that’s how it panned out.”

Meanwhile, Dons boss Mark Robinson was pleased with the way his side ended the campaign.

“We had some decent chances in the first half. At the same time, we switched off a couple of times and Lincoln hurt us,” said Robinson, who has guided Wimbledon to safety since succeeding Glyn Hodges in January.

“I said at half-time that we needed to be alert because Lincoln move the ball quickly.

“I thought we started the second half really well and created a couple of half-decent chances.

“Overall, from where we’ve come from, to come here and put in that performance, there are lots of things to be pleased about.

“That’s the mentality we’re trying to change at the club, there’s always something riding on the game.

“Today was the 21st we’d been together (since he took charge) and if we’d won today, our form over those games would have been play-off form.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t win but we’re still ninth or 10th in the form table.

“Like I said, there’s always something to play for and it was important we put a stamp on where we want to go in the future.”

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