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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Big Match Preview - Stockport vs. Lincoln

Stockport County vs. Lincoln City
Saturday January 22, 15:00, Edgeley Park

Two sides deeply embroiled in the fight for Football League survival meet in the North West this weekend as Stockport County play host to Lincoln City in a big relegation six-pointer.

The visitors come into the match propping up the rest of the division - albeit having plenty of games in hands on their rivals, including a Stockport team sitting in 21st.

It's been a miserable start to 2011 for the Cheshire side who have lost four of their five games at the start of the New Year. That poor form led to the departure of boss Paul Simpson earlier in the month with assistant Peter Ward taking temporary charge of the Hatters.

However, he has only manage to oversee a 5-1 home thumping by Gillingham, followed by surrending a 3-1 lead to draw against Rotherham before last week's 3-0 thumping at fellow strugglers Hereford.

County have the division's worst defence, with 57 goals conceded, that includes 34 on home turf. That includes 5-0 wins for Port Vale and Hereford and Shrewsbury's 4-0 victory.

Only one win has been achieved on home soil, a 2-1 win over Barnet - also the last team Stockport beat, on December 28. No side has drawn more home matches than their seven stalemates, though.

County are also adjusting to life without top scorer, on-loan striker George Donnelly, who was sold by parent club Plymouth to Fleetwood. That leaves midfield Greg Tansey, on six goals, as their top scorer.

Steve Tilson has seen his Lincoln side slip to the foot of the Football League

For Imps boss, Steve Tilson, the trip to Edgeley Park see him takes on the side who provided the opposition in his first game in charge of City after taking over from Chris Sutton.

That game in October ended 0-0, however, since then a mixture of cup games and the wintry weather has ensured Lincoln have only played seven more league matches - including not playing at during December.

It's no surprise then that that inactivity has seen them slip to the foot of League Two - posessing five games in hand on Stockport alone.

City have lost their last three games though, and are without a win in the league since defeating relegation rivals Hereford in mid-November. That's one of just two wins Tilson has gained, the other coming away at Morecambe.

Lincoln have earned just one other away day success, at Gillingham, as well as a draw at Wycombe. Their other six trips have ended in defeat, however.

They have particularly struggled for goals this term, with just 17 in their 21 games being the lowest in the division. Three players, Ashley Grimes, Mustapha Carayol, and Andrew Hutchinson are joint top scorers with four.

This is a classic relegation dogfight, with two teams struggling for form but knowing the points are crucial. It also pits League Two's leakiest defence against the most shot-shy attack.

I just have a sneaky feeling that, despite their poor results, it's the away side who may well end up taking maximum spoils home with them.

Nobes' Prediction: Stockport County 1 Lincoln City 2

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