The past and present will collide for Michael Appleton at Sincil Bank on Tuesday night. His Lincoln City side begin their latest quest to re-capture the Trophy they won in 2017/18 when they host Manchester United Under-21s.
For Appleton, it will no doubt provide a moment for reflection on his career in the game having grown up as a youth-team player himself at Old Trafford.
The Imps manager missed the famous Class of ’92, which produced the likes of Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville and Nicky Butt, by just a year.
To complete the circle, he even made an appearance in the EFL Trophy for Lincoln during the 1995/96 season whilst on loan from United.
Appleton came within a penalty shoot-out defeat by eventual winners Sunderland AFC of leading Lincoln out at Wembley in last season’s Final and will no doubt use the memory of that near-miss to spur his side on this time around.
Lincoln’s Group F tie is one of three Trophy matches this week as the Group Stage begins. Scunthorpe United will host the Under-21 side from the blue half of Manchester. City have a fine recent record in the competition having qualified for the knockout stages in each of the last two seasons.
This week’s other fixture sees Chelsea Under-21s travel to Devon to face Exeter City.
Holders Sunderland, whose campaign begins next week, will also feature in Group F alongside Lincoln, Manchester United Under-21s and Bradford City.
Meanwhile, the 2020 winners Salford City will face Oldham Athletic, Tranmere Rovers and Everton Under-21s in Group B.
Papa John’s EFL Trophy Facts and Figures
- The EFL Trophy was first played in the 1983/84 season
- All-time highest goalscorer in the Trophy: Steve Bull - 26
- Highest score: Southend 10-1 Aldershot, 6 November 1990
- Club with most goals in the Trophy to date:
Carlisle United 190
Southend United third 154
- Most Final victories – Bristol City 3 – 1986, 2003, 2015
- Most Final appearances – Carlisle United 6 – winners in 1997, 2011, runners-up in 1995, 2003, 2006, 2010
- Clubs that have played in at least one Final – 45
- Clubs in this year’s competition that have played in at least one Final – 22
Where are they now?
Of the other finalists...
Four are currently in the Premier League
13 are currently in the Sky Bet Championship
Six are currently playing outside the Sky Bet EFL
Lou Macari (Birmingham City and Stoke City) and Kenny Jackett (Swansea City and Portsmouth) are the only managers to win the Trophy with two different Clubs.