The first loss of the season needs to be put to bed. There’s no way that we can let the Tuesday night reverse at the Memorial Stadium affect what was, beforehand, an excellent start to the season in which four points were collected in the league and Ipswich Town knocked out of the cup. Cheltenham come to town as underdogs in League Two with some bookies seeing them as relegation candidates.
But there’s a sense of unpredictability about the Robins at the moment – one week they’re picking up a first win of the season against promotion favourites Swindon Town and the next suffering a home defeat to Morecambe. From all reports though, Cheltenham could, and should, have even won that game based on the amount of chances created and any sort of overlooking on behalf of players and fans of the Cobblers will signal a problem.
Some astute summer signings include Marlon Pack, signed from Portsmouth on a permanent deal following a loan spell last season, with the midfielder aiming to continue his fine form from 2010/11. The hole left by Wes Thomas is hoping to be filled by the likes of Jeff Goulding and Darryl Duffy whilst they also house former Cobblers winger Josh Low.
Low was one of the most debated players in recent history during his time at Sixfields from 2003-2006 but there’s no doubting his ability at this level where he made over a hundred appearances for the Cobblers and scored fifteen times.
With four home games in league and cup coming up this week the attendance might be hit a little but all signs point to a close contest once again against a side that always cause us some problems.
The Cobblers’ early season good form came to an end on Tuesday night when we were beaten 2-1 at Bristol Rovers having earned four league points in the two games previous. Bayo Akinfenwa became the first striker to score this season with his goal at Rovers after coming off the bench but a late Matt Harrold winner meant that we left pointless.
Cheltenham recorded an excellent 1-0 win over Swindon Town last weekend but were brought back to earth with an unfortunate defeat against Morecambe at Whaddon Road on Tuesday. Nick Fenton gave Morecambe a second half lead before Jeff Goulding looked to have given his side a point, but Kevin Ellison’s injury time winner gave Morecambe their second three points of the season.
Bayo Akinfenwa played half an hour of Tuesday night’s defeat at Bristol Rovers and could come back into contention for a starting place. Paul Turnbull picked up a knock during that game but should be fit to take on the Robins.
Cheltenham will be without Jimmy Spencer who serves the second of a three match ban after his sending off in the home win over Swindon Town last weekend. Aside from that, they should have a fully fit squad to choose from.
08/01/11: Cobblers 1-1 Cheltenham
The first of many, many draws in 2011 saw Billy McKay give the Cobblers an early lead before Wes Thomas netted the equaliser just after half-time.
09/10/10: Cheltenham 1-0 Cobblers
Dean Beckwith’s red card at Whaddon Road sees the Cobblers reduced to ten men within the opening quarter of the game. It takes until the hour mark, though, for Cheltenham to take advantage and Brian Smikle scores the winner.
27/02/10: Cobblers 2-1 Cheltenham
After a goalless first half, things come to life in the second. Bayo Akinfenwa puts us in front but Marley Watkins looks like he’s earned a draw for the visitors. But Seb Harris scores his only goal for the club with five minutes to go to settle it.
05/12/09: Cheltenham 2-2 Cobblers
In a see-saw battle, Barry Hayles opens the scoring before Bayo levels just a minute later. Hayles is again on target on the half hour mark but Akinfenwa matched him once again, sealing a point just after the break.
28/02/09: Cheltenham 0-1 Cobblers
In a rare win at Whaddon Road, it’s Jason Crowe’s goal on the stroke of half-time that gives the Cobblers all three points.
09/08/08: Cobblers 4-2 Cheltenham
An excellent opening day of an otherwise forgettable relegation season for the Cobblers as Cheltenham are beaten at Sixfields. An own goal from Gabor Gyepes meant that we had to come from behind but Chris Doig levelled just before half-time and two spot kicks from Bayo had us in the ascendancy. Michael Townsend scored a penalty of his own to give the Robins hope but Leon Constantine rounded off the scoring minutes later to kick start the season with a good win.
Mark Haywood takes charge of this one having overseen the Blackpool – Derby game on Wednesday night in the Championship. His last game involving the Cobblers was the first victory of last season, the 2-1 home win over Southend United.
We need this win after the midweek defeat at Bristol Rovers but won’t have it all our own way against an unpredictable Robins side. Josh Low will be a factor but I think we can nick it by the odd goal so will go for 2-1.