It’s here again as Stanley come to Town!

Northampton Town v Accrington Stanley

League Two

Saturday, August 6th 2011

Well that came around pretty quickly didn’t it?! In the summers with no World Cups or European Championships for distraction there’s usually a long, drawn out feel to the summer but this time it’s felt a little quicker. It could be because the excitement was all happening in the early months, before holidays or heat waves. Bayo’s return, announced on the morning of 25th May came even before the League Two playoff final had taken place, got the juices going and Jake Robinson came away from that very final as a runner up to join the ranks as well, creating an early air of optimism.

That feeling was shaken by a dodgy pre-season up until the Wycombe win last Saturday but the style of play has been encouraging with the ball actually being played on the ground and interchanging positions a feature of some of the best play over the last few weeks.

So we begin with last season’s surprise package in Accrington Stanley, beaten Playoff Semi-Finalists after a terrific campaign. The majority of their points last time came from home games with the Crown Ground yielding 50 of Stanley’s 73 points. Away from home was a bit more of a struggle but they still could be a threat, particularly if we don’t take them seriously enough from the off.

Stanley lost influential midfielder and PFA Team of the Year selected Jimmy Ryan who joined Scunthorpe United and his direct replacement Kevin McIntyre from Shrewsbury will have a tough job filling his boots. The 33-year-old has bags of experience at this level and that will be needed in abundance to plug any gaps in the middle of the park. Danny Coid’s arrival from Blackpool should shore up the defence whilst Kurtis Guthrie is more of an unknown quantity going forward.

Bayo's back!

Team News

The Cobblers will be without Andy Holt and Shaun Harrad, both of whom are ruled out for up to six weeks. Holt suffered a dislocated collarbone in training last week whilst Harrad damaged his ankle in another training ground incident. Bas Savage and Ashley Westwood should both make the bench after signing on non-contract deals this week. Bayo is likely to be given another debut with Sam Walker, Ashley Corker, Arron Davies, Jake Robinson and Paul Turnbull all looking like getting their first competitive action for the club.

Accrington will have new loan signing Kevin Long available after the Irishman signed for a second spell at the club this week. Long played fifteen times for John Coleman’s side last season and goes straight into the squad for tomorrow to kick off a second period with Stanley. Kevin McIntyre, Danny Coid and Kurtis Guthrie are also in line for debuts.

Previous Meetings

02/04/11: Accrington 3-1 Cobblers

Town slip to another worrying defeat as a first half blitz sends us closer to the relegation zone. Ian Craney strikes twice in the opening half an hour before Sean McConville makes it three before the break. A Michael Jacobs consolation mid-way through the second half is nowhere near enough and Stanley continue their march towards the playoffs.

14/08/10: Cobblers 0-0 Accrington

The sides met in the first league game at Sixfields last season as well with a stale mate and a frustrating afternoon for the home support following a promising win over Brighton in the Carling Cup the previous Tuesday.

09/02/10: Cobblers 4-0 Accrington

An important victory for the Cobblers, at that point on the way up the table in search of a late playoff surge that eventually petered out. Bayo Akinfenwa gives us the lead and a second half brace from Billy McKay combined with a Luke Guttridge strike seals a comfortable afternoon.

18/08/09: Accrington 0-3 Cobblers

A big win to kick start the 2009/10 season and to prolong Stuart Gray’s reign at the club. Steve Guinan netted his first for the Cobblers early on and Bayo slotted in a penalty fifteen minutes later. Billy McKay would score the first of three goals against Stanley that season to round off the victory.

25/04/61: Cobblers 2-1 Accrington

En route from promotion from Division Four, the Cobblers picked up a crucial win at the County Ground and ended up finishing in third place behind Peterborough United and Crystal Palace.

03/10/60: Accrington 3-2 Cobblers

The first meeting of the sides came in October 1960 with Stanley taking home the bragging rights in a five goal thriller.

Williamson...in charge

The Man In The Middle

Iain Williamson takes charge tomorrow having ended his season in May with two Championship matches. His last assignment involving the Cobblers saw him give Abdul Osman his marching orders in the goalless draw with Port Vale back in November of last year.

Prediction

It’s a tougher game than some might expect with Stanley looking to cause an ‘upset’ despite finishing last season in a playoff place whilst the Cobblers fought for their lives at the other end of the table. I have to look for a home win though and will go for 2-1 to the Cobblers.

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