Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Cowley backs ‘underdogs’ Lincoln to cause shock in Checkatrade Trophy final

Cowley branded opponents Shrewsbury as the “best team in the competition”.

Lincoln boss Danny Cowley has backed his underdogs to cause another shock on the big stage by beating Shrewsbury at Wembley to lift the Checkatrade Trophy.

The Shrews are in contention for an automatic promotion place in Sky Bet League One and have been described by Cowley as the “best team in the competition”.

Lincoln are in the League Two play-off spots in their first season back in the Football League and relishing the opportunity to spring an upset in Sunday’s final.

The Imps have beaten League One sides Rochdale and Peterborough on the road to Wembley, while last season they claimed the scalps of Ipswich, Brighton and Burnley on their way to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

“If we’re going to win it, we’re going to have to win it the hard way,” Cowley said at his press conference previewing the final.

“But we enjoy being underdogs. We did OK being the underdogs in the FA Cup last season. It’s familiar territory for us.

“You want to beat the best teams, and Shrewsbury are the best team in the competition. We’re pleased it’s Shrewsbury.

“We know that we’re going to have to be at our very best just to compete, let alone get on the right side of it.

“But normally these challenges help you find that little bit extra. Maybe we’ll find it on that day which will give us the confidence to push on in the future.”

Cowley has been impressed with the way opposite number Paul Hurst has reversed the fortunes of the Shrews.

“Shrewsbury have done fantastically under Paul Hurst and (assistant manager) Chris Doig,” added Cowley.

“Without doubt, they are the management team of the year in the Football League.

“They came in, in October last season with the team at the bottom of League One. In less than 18 months, they’ve taken them to the top of League One.

“They’re very organised, physical and athletic and have some good technical players who can take the game away from you in a moment. It’s going to be a huge challenge.”

Hurst has told his Shrewsbury players to embrace the occasion and warned them of the threat posed by Lincoln.

“One of the messages to the players will be, ‘Don’t let the moment pass you by’ and also ‘Don’t take it for granted that you are going to return’,” he was quoted as saying by shrewsburytown.com.

“I’ve been very fortunate and I know a few lads have played there, so it won’t be their first visit either, but will it ever happen again? Who knows? We hope so, but it doesn’t come around too often so I want everybody to enjoy the experience.

“Lincoln are a threat from set-plays and they’ve scored a number of goals through that – some obvious ones and some clever free-kicks that they’ve attempted as well.

“They’ve got some similarities with our group in terms of the energy and the hard work.

“This is kind of a reward because the league campaigns are the most important, but there can only be one winner and we are desperate for that to be us.”

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

From Belfast Telegraph