This week saw the Cobblers receive a bit of a blow with the news of Bayo Akinfenwa’s injury that will keep him out for two weeks so we go into the game at Port Vale on Friday night looking to change things around. Vale are once again pushing for glory at the top of the table and have been hanging around the top seven all season. They’ll be hoping to stretch a short unbeaten record while the Cobblers hope to bounce back from the latest defeat in front of the nation last weekend.
Vale are unbeaten in three games having picked up five points from their last three games. A draw at Crewe was followed by a home success over Rotherham and another away draw last weekend, this time at Gillingham as a second half Danny Kedwell penalty denied them all three points at the Priestfield Stadium.
The Cobblers had won back to back games for the first time this season ahead of the live game with Crawley on Saturday lunch time but defeat to the League Two promotion favourites halted the upturn in results and we sit in fifteenth place going into the Friday night clash at Vale Park.
Vale manager Mickey Adams has a decision to make at full back with Adam Yates coming in for the ill Rob Kozluk last weekend and putting in a decent performance. Yates will be battling to keep his place with the former Sheffield United man who signed a short term deal with Vale in September. Still definitely missing for Mickey Adams’ side are long term absentees Lee Collins and Lewis Haldane.
The Cobblers are of course without Bayo with the big striker suffering a fractured jaw against Crawley Town on Saturday. Nick McKoy returns from a four game ban though and could regain his place in the middle of the park but Arron Davies is touch and go because of a nerve problem that’s threatening to disrupt his season.
Marc Richards made over fifty appearances for the Cobblers between 2003 and 2005 with the striker netting ten times during his spell at Sixfields. He struggled to get going at first but a superb spell towards the end of the 2003/04 season saw his goals help us into the League Two playoffs. That run included all four goals in the 4-0 win at Macclesfield Town and a screamer at Hull in memorable 3-2 victory. After leaving the club in the summer of 2005, Richards spent time at Barnsley before joining Vale in June 2007.
On loan Vale defender Liam Chilvers had a brief spell with the Cobblers back in 2000 and made his Town debut in the 2-1 derby win over Peterborough United at London Road. Chilvers was on loan from Arsenal at the time and went on to more loan spells at Notts County and Colchester before signing permanently with the U’s in 2004. Chilvers joined Preston North End after helping Colchester to promotion to the Championship and made 97 appearances, moving on to Notts County in 2010. After he fell out of favour with Martin Allen, Chilvers signed a one month loan deal with Vale and has made three appearances so far.
Cobblers defender Ashley Westwood played seven times for Vale back in 2007 whilst on loan from Chester City before spending time in non-league at Stevenage, Wrexham and Kettering Town. Crewe took him back into the league and the Cobblers snapped him up on a free transfer in the summer.
Last Six Meetings…
12/02/11: Port Vale 1-1 Cobblers
Abdul Osman was sent off for the second time in the season against Vale but the Cobblers held out for a point earned a few minutes prior to the red card thanks to an equaliser from Leon McKenzie. Justin Richards’ penalty had given Vale the lead but McKenzie swooped three minutes later to earn a point.
13/11/10: Cobblers 0-0 Port Vale
Stale mate at Sixfields as Abdul Osman is sent off just after half-time.
06/03/10: Port Vale 1-3 Cobblers
As the Cobblers made a late surge towards the playoff places in 2010, this was a crucial win against one of the teams chasing the same goal. Ultimately neither side made it but it was still a memorable away day with Bayo Akinfenwa giving us the lead. Doug Loft equalised but Abdul Osman and Billy McKay won it before the break.
12/12/09: Cobblers 1-1 Port Vale
As the 2009/10 season crept towards Christmas, the teams shared the spoils at Sixfields. Marc Richards’ penalty gave him a happy return to his former stomping ground but after John McCombe was sent off just after half-time, Bayo converted the spot kick to grab a point for Town.
26/04/08: Port Vale 2-2 Cobblers
In the final away game of the 2008/09 season, Ryan Gilligan and Andy Holt put the Cobblers in control but Richards halved the deficit before Danny Glover made it 2-2 in the second half.
06/10/07: Cobblers 2-1 Port Vale
Andy Kirk’s first half brace helped the Cobblers to a home victory in October 2007. David McGoldrick scored in the second half for the visitors but Town held on for three points.
The Man In The Middle…
Andrew Madley is in charge for this one having refereed mainly League Two games so far in his first season as a professional.
It’s always tough at Vale Park and with the big man out it’s hard to see us getting much against an improving Vale side. I have to be optimistic though and will predict a score draw…1-1.