Magic Imps can avoid a Cup drubbing
FA Cup fifth round
BT Sport 2, 12.30pm Saturday
Liverpool, Everton, Southampton and plenty more of the Premier League’s finest have headed away from Turf Moor empty-handed this season which suggests Lincoln’s FA Cup fairytale is set to come to an end.
Six days ago Chelsea, the best team in the land, were left frustrated at one of the top division’s genuine fortresses so it’s hard to give Danny Cowley’s Imps too much of a sniff.
Having seen off Oldham, Ipswich and Brighton in their run to the last 16 the National League pace-setters will have headed west confidently believing they can claim another classy scalp, but the bet is surely that they don’t.
There’s nothing to suggest it will be a drubbing – with two Championship victims already, Lincoln won’t be fazed by the 81-place gulf between the teams.
But Burnley have yet to concede a goal in three FA Cup ties, and if Lincoln are buoyed by beating Brighton you can be sure that the Clarets are every bit as joyous at taking points off Chelsea last Sunday.
Sean Dyche, whose side are so often the underdogs, will give Lincoln the utmost respect and demand his players do likewise, and a home win is on the cards.
It’s hard to find much of an edge if you fancy the home side – the hosts are a 1-3 chance. But there’s a case for thinking that any win will be low-scoring so the 21-20 Burnley and under 3.5 goals might be the bet.
The Clarets’ three cup ties have produced the grand total of four goals. Twenty-four of their 29 matches have yielded three goals or fewer with eight of their 11 victories also falling into that bracket.
The fact that Dyche will make changes shouldn’t unduly perturb prospective backers. He has made six, seven and eight changes in their three ties and, as he points out, the players drafted in are senior pros pushing for starts rather than young kids. Being able to summon Euro 2016 aces like Sam Vokes and Johan Berg Gudmundsson illustrates what the Burnley boss has at his disposal.
Burnley aren’t among the Premier League’s big scorers with 27 goals in 25 games, and the same is true of recent cup matches – they’ve not scored more than two goals in any of their last 11 cup ties, against varied levels of opposition.
Lincoln, who have sold their FA Cup top-scorer Theo Robinson to Southend, know the magnitude of the task. Only Chelsea and Spurs have won more home games in the top flight than Burnley.
But they cannot think about that. They’ll be direct when they get chances and look for target man Matt Rhead, who has now been joined up front by Dayle Southwell. Their fear must be that they get overrun.
Burnley & under 3.5 goals
2pts 21-20 Betway, BoyleSports, Coral
Steven Defour and Dean Marney are injured while fellow midfielder Jeff Hendrick is suspended. Robbie Brady is cup-tied. Boss Sean Dyche will make at least six changes from the last league game.
Midfielders Billy Knott and Josh Ginnelly are cup-tied. Lee Beevors is a long-term casualty.
Burnley have had five wins to nil in their last seven home games