Rovers U18s are back on home soil this weekend as they welcome Lincoln City to the Eco-Power Stadium 3G in the EFL Youth Alliance League (12pm kick-off).
Frank Sinclair’s side will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat last weekend at Notts County and claim their first victory since returning from the midseason break.
The game is billed as the latest instalment of what has become a great rivalry in the Youth Alliance and the exact meeting last term lived up to expectations as Rovers came from two behind to win 3-2 courtesy of a Jack Goodman screamer.
Rovers ran out 2-0 winners in the first meeting between the two sides this season as Frank Sinclair’s side made it four consecutive wins against the Imps.
Jamie Tomlinson and Kenneth Imariagbe got the all-important goals on that day at the start of November to pick up a valuable three points.
That win in North Lincolnshire was the youth team’s first league success of the season and set the side on a five-game unbeaten run to end 2023.
The Imps have endured similar fortunes to Rovers this season and currently sit one place ahead of the youth team in eighth place with 10 points from nine games.
Lincoln did however manage to pick up a first win since the start of October though last time out as they returned for the new year with a 3-1 win against reigning champions Harrogate Town.
Prior to that success City had been handed four consecutive defeats, including Rovers’ 2-0 success in November and a 5-0 thumping by Salford City – conceding 12 in the process.
Rovers will be looking to reignite their end of 2023 form when they went five games unbeaten with three wins as they aim to bounce back from defeats against Mansfield Town and Notts County in 2024.
In the FA Youth Cup this week Burton Albion fell to a narrow defeat against Premier League academy Tottenham Hotspur but they stay sat at the top of the north east division of the Youth Alliance League.
Having not played in the league last weekend, the Brewers’ lead at the summit was cut to just four points but they have two games in hand on second placed Hartlepool United.
Rovers slipped into ninth with their two defeats in 2024 with Lincoln moving up into eighth with victory last time out. Just two points separate the sides heading into this weekend’s game and Sinclair’s side will be looking to close the gap on the championship merit league placings.
Notts County remain sat bottom of the division but closed the gap to Huddersfield Town to just four points with their first win of the season against Rovers last weekend.
Professional development phase coach Frank Sinclair is looking forward to his side’s latest meeting with the Imps and wants his side to establish form again.
Sinclair said: “It’s always a good challenge playing against Lincoln, they’re obviously local rivals and usually there’s only a goal between the two sides whichever way it goes.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have won the last four but they’ve all been really tight games and we’ve had to show character right until the end to get a result.
“They’ll come to us really up for the game and wanting to win but we’ve not had the best run in 2024 so it’d be nice to get our first win of the year.
“It’s really important to get some form back because the aim is absolutely to qualify in that top half for the merit league.
“We want to be involved in that again and face the challenges that brings because we did well in there last year so the objective is to find those points to get in there and then kick on from there.
“We want to push on and go again to see how high we can finish but we’re just taking it one game at a time to improve as a collective.”