Over 26,000 Lincoln City supporters made their way to Wembley Stadium in April 2018 for the first time in the club’s history, where they would go on to witness Checkatrade Trophy success against Shrewsbury Town.
Three months on from a memorable day for everyone involved with the Imps, that very road to Wembley starts again with the draw for the Group Stages set to take place in July.
It’s that time of the season where clubs and supporters alike can be ambitious in their aspirations for the upcoming campaign – just ask those Lincoln fans, or Coventry City supporters before them.
Ahead of the draw we have picked out five memorable moments from 2017/18, from stirring comebacks to last minute jubilation…
Northampton Town 3-3 Southampton U21 (Northampton win 4-2 on penalties)
3-0 down, 72 minutes on the clock and facing elimination at the group stages of the competition, Northampton Town launched the most dramatic of comebacks, knocking out their opponents in the process.
Sam Foley and Lewis McGugan cut the deficit to just one, before late drama ensued when Ash Taylor headed in a Matt Grimes cross in the 96th minute to draw level. Not finished there, the Cobblers would also claim the added bonus point in the resulting penalty shootout.
Shrewsbury Town 0-0 Blackpool (Shrewsbury win 4-2 on penalties)
Perhaps not memorable in terms of the entertainment on offer in this particular game, but it was a fixture that kept the Wembley dream alive for Shrewsbury Town.
At times throughout a competition, progress into the latter stages is likely to come under threat, and Paul Hurst’s side battled their way past the Seasiders to secure a significant penalty shootout victory.
Yeovil Town 3-2 Fleetwood
If you look up the definition of ‘back and forth’ in the dictionary, Yeovil Town v Fleetwood Town could easily be used as an example.
Who said knockout football tends to lead to cagey affairs? A five-goal thriller, with each side squandering a lead before a 91st-minute winner to secure a Semi-Final spot – it is fair to say this fixture had it all.
Cian Bolger scored at both ends within six minutes, putting Fleetwood ahead before an own goal quickly drew the home side level. Corey Whelan and Jordy Hiwula were on the scoresheet in the second half, only for fans’ favourite Francois Zoko to settle the contest in the dying moments for the Glovers.
Lincoln City 1-1 Chelsea U21 (Lincoln win 4-2 on penalties)
For any team to secure their place in a Wembley Final in special, and perhaps even more so for Danny Cowley and Lincoln City. From securing their return to the EFL at the start of the campaign to reaching a major final – it was the stuff of dreams.
However, they were pushed all the way in front of a packed-out Sincil Bank. Level at 1-1 after 90 minutes courtesy of a late Chelsea U21 equaliser, the tie was to be decided through the lottery of a shootout, and the script couldn’t have been written any better.
Lee Frecklington, the hometown hero returning to the club for the first time since 2004, struck the winning kick to book the Imps a ticket to Wembley.
Lincoln City 1-0 Shrewsbury Town
It’s an obvious one, but also one you cannot deny Lincoln City and their supporters. Magnificent throughout their first campaign in the Checkatrade Trophy after a return to the EFL, Elliott Whitehouse scored one of the biggest goals in the club’s history to lift the trophy.
It capped a remarkable few years for the club, from their magnificent cup run in 2016/17, to their richly deserved promotion later in the league campaign. Despite going into the Final as underdogs to a high-flying Shrewsbury Town side, it was the Imps who left the National Stadium with the trophy.