KARL Robinson knows the challenges faced by Lincoln City this season all too well.

The Imps were 90 minutes from promotion last May, only to lose 2-1 to Blackpool in the Sky Bet League One play-off final at Wembley.

This season has proved much more of a struggle and they dropped into the relegation zone last weekend following their third postponement in as many weeks and a winless run that stretches back to October.

There are parallels with Oxford United a year earlier, as Robinson’s side started the 2020/21 campaign slowly after reaching the play-off final the season before.

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The head coach has had two very different visits to Sincil Bank with the U’s, winning 6-0 in September 2019 and losing 2-0 12 months later.

But Robinson is expecting a tough afternoon as he comes up against former United boss Michael Appleton.

He said: “It’s never nice getting so close and the players they had last year were incredible.

“You knew they were good, we were lucky when we played them at home last year – they had one or two players out and we managed to get a really good victory.

“I know how hard it’s going to be, it’s always a difficult place to go and play.

“We were beaten there last season, I know the year before that the sun was shining on one of the best victories of the season, but that was before Michael’s reign.

“To get beaten in the final, lose the players they’ve lost and have the injuries they’ve had is an impossible job.

“I’ve been in that situation and I know how hard it is.”

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The U’s boss watched two more League One sides on Tuesday, guest commentating on Charlton Athletic’s 1-0 Papa John’s Trophy win over MK Dons for BBC Three Counties radio.

The clash between two of Robinson’s former sides reinforced that there are no easy games in the third tier.

He said: “I did the Charlton-MK game on Tuesday and was commenting on how good this league is this year.

“They’re two teams who are competing with us, one team made six changes and one made 11 changes and the two teams were incredibly strong.

“When two teams below you do that and still perform at that level, that just shows you the strength in depth in this league.

“There’s no walkovers and Lincoln certainly won’t be, because they’re managed very well and have very good players.”

Reflecting on his media appearance, Robinson joked: “I had a dig at one or two people, which I’ve been dying to do for a while.

“They’re two clubs I really enjoyed being at and I could tell a few stories that I maybe wasn’t able to tell in the media while I was at the clubs.”