The Carabao Cup may have kicked off last week when Portsmouth thrashed Birmingham City 3-0, but the bulk of the games start tonight to really start the competition. With one game already played and Bury’s match against Sheffield Wednesday suspended, 66 teams will take to the field in the hope of beginning a cup run before the Premier League sides enter the fray.
Carabao Cup Preview
Northern Section – Accrington Stanley v Sunderland
For the third season running, Sunderland begin the League Cup in the first round following their tumble down the divisions. They made it through to Round Three in 2017/18 but fell at the first hurdle last season with a 2-0 home defeat against Sheffield Wednesday.
Accrington, meanwhile, have made it past the first round only four times in the last ten seasons, last season being hammered 6-1 by League Two side Mansfield Town.
Jack Ross’ Sunderland have started the league campaign with consecutive 1-1 draws – a result that was common for the Black Cats last season. He will be hoping that a cup game against a side that, historically, are an immensely smaller club will break that duck.
Accrington will provide a stern test though. They battled to stay in League One last year and their small, packed-in ground will be a difficult assignment for Sunderland.
Northern Section – Huddersfield Town v Lincoln City
Last season, this tie would have pitted a Premier League side against one from League Two. Now though, just one division separates both Huddersfield Town and Lincoln City, and that gap is certainly closing further.
Both teams have experienced momentous highs in recent years; Huddersfield having miraculously reached the Premier League and Lincoln regaining their place in the Football League, and it’s not beyond possibility that they will be playing each other in a league capacity soon.
Huddersfield have garnered some Championship-worthy talent from their exploits in the top-flight, and as such should have enough to get past Lincoln on this occasion, but the Imps won’t make it an easy job for them and a shock shouldn’t be completely ruled out.
Southern Section – AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons
The rift between these two clubs needs no further explanation. For the fourth time in cup competition, and the second in the Carabao Cup, AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons have been drawn together.
MK Dons have come out on top twice, both the FA Cup meeting, which was the first, and a 3-1 win in the League Cup in 2014, while in that same season AFC Wimbledon were victors in what was then the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Numerous league matches have taken place between the two since those fixtures, with MK Dons having a slight edge, but AFC Wimbledon will make it a hostile environment for them at Kingsmeadow, as they always do.
Southern Section – Wycombe Wanderers v Reading
While not in the same county, just 26 miles separate the grounds of Wycombe Wanderers and Reading, making it a derby in at least a geographical sense.
Reading’s standout moment in the League Cup will be the astonishing 7-5 loss to Arsenal in 2012, while Wycombe made it past the first round for the first time in six years last season with penalty shoot-out wins against Northampton Town and Forest Green Rovers.
In terms of the pair’s history, they haven’t met each other competitively since 2002, when Reading were 2-0 winners in a Division Two match at Adams Park.
The reignition of this rivalry after 17 years will be welcome for the fans and should make for an interesting game too.
Accrington Stanley 1-3 Sunderland
Barnsley 2-0 Carlisle United
Blackburn Rovers 3-0 Oldham Athletic
Blackpool 2-1 Macclesfield Town
Bradford City 0-2 Preston North End
Grimsby Town 1-2 Doncaster Rovers (AET)
Huddersfield Town 2-1 Lincoln City
Mansfield Town 2-0 Morecambe
Middlesbrough 3-1 Crewe Alexandra
Nottingham Forest 2-1 Fleetwood Town
Port Vale 0-2 Burton Albion
Rochdale 2-0 Bolton Wanderers
Salford City 1-3 Leeds United (AET)
Scunthorpe United 1-2 Derby County
Shrewsbury Town 0-1 Rotherham United
Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Hull City
Wigan Athletic 2-1 Stoke City
AFC Wimbledon 1-1 MK Dons (AET, MK Dons to win on penalties)
Brentford 2-0 Cambridge United
Bristol Rovers 1-0 Cheltenham Town
Charlton Athletic 3-1 Forest Green Rovers
Colchester United 1-1 Swindon Town (AET, Colchester United to win on penalties)
Coventry City 2-1 Exeter City
Gillingham 2-0 Newport County
Luton Town 1-2 Ipswich Town
Oxford United 1-0 Peterborough United
Plymouth Argyle 2-0 Leyton Orient
Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Bristol City
Stevenage 0-1 Southend United
Swansea City 3-0 Northampton Town
Walsall 1-0 Crawley Town
Wycombe Wanderers 1-2 Reading
West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Millwall