By Chris Slavin
Tomorrow's Emirates FA Cup tie pitches together two clubs promoted to a higher level in recent seasons and Simon Bassey hopes that securing a second round place will help AFC Wimbledon come through a 'sticky spell'.
Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley, a former Wimbledon youth player, will be aiming to continue his club's momentum after a stunning run to the cup quarter-finals and a promotion last season. The Imps will arrive here backed by over 1,100 supporters and aiming for another big victory in the competition, but our first-team coach says that the Dons will be motivated by the challenge that awaits.
"When I was a kid the FA Cup was everything – the whole day was spent watching it! As a Wimbledon fan growing up, I have great memories of 1988; going to the semi-final at White Hart Lane and then to the final. You remember those great times in it and we are trying to create more of them now.
"We know all about Lincoln. I know Danny Cowley and everyone in the country was full of admiration for them last season. Our job is to try and replicate that this season and try not to let them do it this time. They will come here with a noisy crowd and Danny likes to whip them up. With the way that they play, they get their crowd up for it, but we are fully aware of what our crowd can do for us, and I'm sure they will do it.
"In the last five years we've made huge strides, both on the pitch and off it. We've created a great infrastructure here. We are having a sticky spell, but we are fully aware of where we need to improve and what needs to be done to do that. Six points from the last four games is a decent return, but we are disappointed because we felt we deserved more. It is a different mentality going into a cup game. Hopefully, the crowd will get behind us and we can get into the next round."
"We used to see the first-team players when I was at Wimbledon and I played at Plough Lane. It was through those Crazy Gang days. Of what I can remember of them, they were always larger-than-life characters. There was always a lot of energy and enthusiasm around the training ground. It always felt like they were up to something!" I loved being there. I did well there as a kid and just came up a bit short.
"It's been great to see what's happened with the club being reborn. They've been able to reinvent themselves and come back. They've had to do it the hard way by fighting through non-league. I actually played against AFC Wimbledon as they were coming up. My good friend Dave Anderson managed them in their non-league days. He's a really good guy. And Neal Ardley has done a fantastic job in their recent history. They must be the most successful supporter-owned club and they should be really proud. They've always stayed close to their roots and values. As far as I'm concerned they're the real Wimbledon.
"For us to go back into the FA Cup off last year's experience is just brilliant. It's a real challenge for us because we always aim to be better than what we've done before which means we have to get to the semi-finals. It proved last year that anything is possible."
For Wimbledon, Lyle Taylor has progressed well after his midweek calf injury and Simon Bassey is hopeful that he will be fit. Jon Meades stepped up his match fitness with 72 minutes in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday, but Simon said that his recuperation will be carefully managed. Lincoln are hoping to get confirmation from Norwich City to play loanee Sean Raggett, but it's unclear at this stage if this will be granted.
Form guide (last six in all competitions, starting with most recent)
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