Crawley host Lincoln City for the fourth time in our Football League history, looking for our second home win in their last three games.
The visitors are in excellent from. Unbeaten since Boxing Day – a run of 15 games – they also have the best away record in League 2 with 36 points from 19 games so far. They are top of the table and ten points clear of fourth-placed MK Dons.
Saturday will be only our fourth league meeting with Lincoln City, having spent only two seasons in the same division as the Imps.
Our first meeting was a forgettable 0-0 draw at Sincil Bank in October 2017. Panutche Camara had the best chance for Reds while Lincoln hit the cross bar from Matt Rhead. In truth, on a windswept afternoon which made decent football difficult neither side deserved to win.
The return fixture back in Sussex last February had a lot more to commend it with Crawley ahead after just 15 minutes through Jimmy Smith. Rhead equalised for the Imps just after the break but we raced into a 3-1 lead when Josh Payne’s penalty and Mark Connolly’s header both found the back of the net. It could have been more for the Reds who played well against a Lincoln side that were chasing promotion at the time.
The most impressive away victory of Crawley’s season thus far came on our most recent trip to Lincolnshire. With Harry Kewell’s departure to Notts County confirmed, Jimmy Smith and Filipe Morais were put in joint charge of the team for the Sincil Bank fixture.
Morais named himself in the starting line-up and it was Jimmy who took the managerial reigns in front of the watching Gabriele Cioffi and Nathan Rooney, who had been named Head Coach and assistant the previous day.
It looked as if the teams would head into the break tied at 0-0 until Morais’s cross flicked the heel of former Reds’ defender Michael Bostwick and ricocheted into the back of the net to give the visitors an unlikely lead.
A red card for Lee Frecklington following a nasty challenge on Mark Connolly boosted our chances in the second half, and we hung on for a superb three points. Even more impressive was that it was Lincoln’s first defeat of the season and they have only been beaten three times since.
Lincoln boss Danny Cowley: “Crawley have had slightly more preparation time than we’ve had and the fact they lost 6-1 in their last game will make them a wounded animal, there’s no doubt about that.
“They’ve got good characters in their group and I’m sure there’ll come out fighting after that disappointment. They try to build from the back and they’ve got a lot of good technical players as well as having pace and athleticism in forward areas.
“And they’ve got Ollie Palmer, who we know well. He’s had a really good season. He has led the line for them pretty much game in, game out and has a good goal record.”
Jimmy Smith (knee) is still a long-term absentee for the Reds. Luke Gambin is also out with a hip problem and Ibrahim Meite starts a three-match ban after his red card against Crewe.
Lincoln hope to have Jason Shackell and Lee Frecklington back after injury but may name the side which drew 1-1 at Mansfield on Monday.
THE MATCH OFFICIALS
Craig Hicks will be in charge on Saturday.
His most recent Crawley game was last November's home match against Northampton, when Ollie Palmer was sent off and Reds lost 1-0. He was also in charge back in August for the 3-2 home win over Bury.
In his second season as a League referee, he took charge of four Crawley fixtures last season - the 2-1 home defeat to Newport County, our 1-1 draw at Coventry, the 4-1 loss to Luton Town at Kenilworth Road and a 3-1 defeat at Cambridge United on Good Friday.
In 32 games this season he has shown 96 yellow and five red cards.
Adrian Tranter and Stephen Brown will be his assistants. The fourth official is Sam Ogles.
HOW THEY BET
Reds are priced at 14/5 to win tomorrow, with the Imps 19/20 and the draw 23/10. All odds supplied by League sponsors Sky Bet.
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The game will be available for UK subscribers of iFollow from 2.55pm with live commentary from BBC Sussex & Surrey Sport's Gary Smith and summariser Tony Vessey.
You must be a subscriber to listen (UK) to this service. You can subscribe here. Overseas users can of course watch the action live.
There will also be coverage across our social media channels throughout the afternoon. @crawleytown on Twitter, Crawley Town FC on Facebook and crawley_town_fc on Instagram.