Joe Gallen admits Portsmouth venture into the unknown after 37-year Lincoln absence

None of Pompey’s first-team squad were born when the Blues last sampled Sincil Bank.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 8:00 am

And while Joe Gallen has travelled to Lincoln’s home in the past 37 years, it’s a trip he wishes to forget.

Not since February 1983 have Pompey played at the home of the Imps – an occasion which saw Bobby Campbell’s side run out 3-0 winners.

On that Wednesday evening, Billy Rafferty netted twice and Steve Aizlewood grabbed the other during a season which would see the Blues claim the Division Three title.

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Tonight sees Kenny Jackett’s men make the trip to a team positioned 12th in League One and managed by former Pompey boss Michael Appleton.

At least ex-Imps defender Sean Raggett can provide an insight into what awaits – although not many at Fratton Park can.

Assistant boss Gallen said: ‘I haven’t been there for 25-odd years when I was a player with Shrewsbury.

‘I was dropped, that’s why I remember it! I travelled there and was told before the game I wasn't starting, not even on the bench. So I sat in the stands and did commentary for the radio!

Pompey assistant manager Joe Gallen

‘Lincoln hadn’t been heard of for a long time and then, all of a sudden, were top of the National League and having FA Cup runs when Sean (Raggett) scored the winner against Burnley, the club were on the rise.

‘Speaking to a lot of people, apparently a very, very good atmosphere awaits, which is good. Things are on the up there – and once that’s the case you’d expect a top game.

‘They’ve beaten a lot of so-called fancied sides this season. Pompey are a big club and they’ll be looking at us coming up and wanting to claim another one.

‘We are going to have to play very well. They will make it difficult.’

Imps boss Appleton has overseen a January overhaul, with John Akinde (Gillingham), Bruno Andrade (Salford) and Harry Toffolo (Huddersfield) all departing.

However, they have added Arsenal’s Tyreece John-Jules, Max Melbourne (West Brom), Tayo Edun (Fulham), Conor Coventry (West Ham) and Tom Hopper (Southend) to their ranks.

Lincoln have beaten Fleetwood, Sunderland, Ipswich, Peterborough and Blackpool at Sincil Bank in the league this season.