>Northampton Town v Torquay United
Friday, March 25th 2011
The aim of Torquay United this evening is to leave Sixfields having bagged a place in the top three of League Two. The Gulls will hope to take advantage of playing a day earlier than their promotion rivals and know that a win would give them a spot in the automatic promotion places for the night at least. The Cobblers will be thinking otherwise though and Gary Johnson, still looking for his first win in charge, will be encouraged by his side’s performance at Bradford last weekend – possibly enough so to name an unchanged side.
Johnson does have Dean Beckwith fully fit again so faces a choice as to whether to put him straight back into the starting line-up or stick with the partnership of John Johnson and Doncaster loanee Byron Webster who looked solid enough at Valley Parade. Leon McKenzie and Andy Holt are still major doubts after not training this week whilst Ryan Gilligan will be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury picked up in the warm up last weekend.
The visitors will be without loan striker Ronan Murray tonight as the Republic of Ireland Under 21 international is in Portugal with his country. Murray scored his first goal since joining on loan from Ipswich in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Cheltenham at the weekend and was described by manager Paul Buckle as being “a different class,” so we might have had a stroke of luck there! Meanwhile, midfielder Ben Pringle has rejoined parent club Derby County after making five appearances at Plainmoor but Billy Kee could return after an ankle problem.
We’re all so desperate for a win and gradually you can see things turning. There’s certainly been no honeymoon period for Gary Johnson but the Bradford game was a step forward in terms of the players starting to mould into his ways of thinking. With eleven long games separating the present day and that night against Crewe when everything flew in and everything looked rosy. Six goals was great, but right now a scrappy 1-0 win with a goal from a scrambled battle in the six yard box looks very appealing indeed.
For the club, the fans and the sanity of everyone, we need three points!
Elsewhere in League Two this weekend
The only other game tonight sees Rotherham attempt to regain the playoff place that they lost during the week as they visit Lincoln. With just five points separating eleventh and fourth place, the race for those coveted top seven places is well and truly on and the Millers, now under the management of caretaker boss Andy Liddell, will be desperate to get back on track following the surprise sacking of Ronnie Moore.
On Saturday, there could be repercussions at either end of the table with a huge battle at Underhill. Barnet, three points from safety, meet leaders Chesterfield who need just four more wins to guarantee promotion back to League One.
Port Vale, another side manager less and out of the playoff positions, host second place Bury whilst Wycombe in third travel to Morecambe. Both Bury and Wycombe are surely now discarding any hopes of catching Chesterfield and will be hoping to simply keep hold of the three point gap separating themselves and fourth.
Stevenage, meanwhile, have suddenly jumped into fifth after another good win on Tuesday night and they’re at Macclesfield tomorrow afternoon. Shrewsbury have a game in hand on most of their rivals but will still want to bag maximum points at Bradford.
Rock bottom Stockport will go ever closer to the Conference if they fail to win at home to Southend at Edgeley Park as they enter real do or die territory at the foot of League Two. Elsewhere on Saturday, Aldershot play their third home game in a row with ever rising Accrington the visitors this time around. Stanley have suddenly forced themselves back into the playoff picture with a strong run of form and if they can nick another victory at the EBB Stadium they’ll be in a fine position going into the run in.
Because of the Wales-England game on Saturday, we have some rare Sunday games in League Two as well, all of them involving teams with top seven ambitions. Gillingham are at Cheltenham while Hereford will be aiming to stop Crewe from leaping into contention and to ease their returning relegation fears. And Oxford are at home to Burton with both sides clamouring for points for completely opposite reasons.
So a good spread of games over three days this weekend and the excitement mounts for a frantic finish at both ends of the basement league.