With plenty of home games littering the early part of 2011, the Cobblers hit the road tomorrow in a tough outing at Port Vale. Last season saw us put in one of the performances of the season at Vale Park as Sammo’s men won 3-1 and this time out we’ll need to match that if we’re to get anything from a team whose fortunes have started to turn again in the last couple of games.
Struggling initially under new boss Jim Gannon, following Mickey Adams’ departure to Sheffield United, Vale have beaten Rotherham and drawn with Wycombe in the last two games and confidence is starting to pour back into the side ahead of the Cobblers’ visit.
Vale’s Chris Martin looks set to keep his place in goal despite the return of number one keeper Stuart Tomlinson from a hip injury. Martin, the first choice last season, has impressed in the last couple of games and should remain in his place tomorrow. Skipper Gareth Owen will definitely miss the game though and although his ankle injury doesn’t appear to be as bad as first suspected he will still be missing for at least a month.
John Johnson’s medial ligament injury could well keep him out of the game while Andy Holt is another major doubt. Leon McKenzie wasn’t fit enough to start against Barnet but could come back into the starting line-up whilst there was better news this week with both Liam Davis and Kevin Thornton returning to training. Both could play some part at Vale Park.
With the Cobblers hoping to chase down the playoff places, there’s no better team to beat than the one in seventh place going into the weekend…Vale, and the gap between us, are the targets on the claret radar…
Elsewhere in League Two this weekend…
League Leaders Chesterfield kick things off tonight as they visit a Burton Albion side who just want to play a game of football! Victory for the Brewers will take them out of the bottom two but their higher flying neighbours want to end a run of three draws in a row and extend their lead at the top before the rest of us get going on Saturday.
Any slip ups by the Spireites will give Wycombe the chance to close the gap when they visit Bradford and Shrewsbury, back in the top three after that thumping of Lincoln in midweek, will also be hoping to keep the pressure on as they host Stevenage. Shrews boss Graham Turner has insisted this week that his side can still go on to win the title.
Bury, who have hit seven goals in the last two games, visit rock bottom Stockport aiming for a fourth straight win. Fourth placed Rotherham face a trip to Oxford after slipping out of the top three in the week with defeat at Gillingham. The Gills go to Crewe on Saturday in a big game in terms of the playoff places.
Barnet need points quickly and host Torquay in an attempt to put more distance between themselves and the drop zone. The Gulls had a first win in five games on Tuesday night when they beat Stevenage and have turned their attention back to a playoff place after returning to the top half of the table. Lincoln will hope to be rid of any hangovers from the 5-1 defeat to Shrewsbury when they welcome Morecambe to Sincil Bank and Macclesfield visit Aldershot with the threat of relegation still well and truly hanging over the Silkmen’s heads.
Hereford are also looking to pull clear of the bottom two and travel to Cheltenham with the Robins coming in off the back of a decent draw at Morecambe. Meanwhile, Southend, whose winning run was ended last weekend, attempt to get back on track with an away game at Accrington.