Northampton Town v Port Vale: Match Preview

It’s feels like an age since the Cobblers last participated in a Saturday match and after a couple of good Tuesday night victories you could forgive Town fans for wanting to keep on replacing weekends for nights for the rest of the season. But we’re back in action tomorrow with a third home game in a row with Port Vale the visitors.

Vale are once again on the brink of the playoffs having recovered from a poor start to 2012 to record four games without defeat (three of those producing wins) including a last gasp Mar Richards penalty handing them all three points last Saturday at home to Gillingham. That left Micky Adams’ side within two points of the playoffs as they head towards the final furlong of the season.

Form…

The Cobblers have taken six points from their only two games this month, both of which have come at home and in the course of doing so have tripled their home wins count for the season!

As mentioned, Vale are unbeaten in four having disposed of Rotherham, Plymouth and Gillingham either side of an away point at Bradford City.

Team News…

There are no new injury worries for the Cobblers going into the game with Nana and Shane Higgs the only long term absentees who won’t play again this season. But there were no knocks from Tuesday’s win over Macclesfield so expect a pretty similar starting eleven from Aidy Boothroyd’s men.

Chris Birchall, Port Vale’s most capped player, returned to the club last week and could be in line for a start at Sixfields after receiving international clearance on his month-to-month deal back with the club he began his career with. Birchall left LA Galaxy in December and has been training with Mickey Adam’s side. He played in a reserve team game on Wednesday and is set to play some part tomorrow afternoon.

Richards - former Cobbler

Club Links…

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.

Previous Meetings…

14/10/11: Port Vale 3-0 Cobblers

A horror show of a first half sees the Cobblers three goals down inside twenty five minutes thanks to goals from Tom Pope, Anthony Griffith and John McCombe and we have no answer in the second half.

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.

The Man In The Middle…

Taking charge on Saturday at Sixfields is Gavin Ward, a man who last refereed a Cobblers game in a 3-0 home defeat to Aldershot back in February 2010 on a night where he showed an early red card to Kevin Thornton from which we never recovered. Ward has been involved in a few thrillers this season including MK Dons 6-2 Chesterfield, Barnet 3-6 Burton and Brentford 3-3 MK Dons.

Prediction…

It’s a much more difficult game on paper than the previous two victories and the Cobblers will have to step it up in order to escape the bottom two this weekend. With Plymouth hosting Dagenham and Hereford going to Bradford it’s a huge weekend at the bottom but a point would be seen as a decent return from this one so I’ll go for 2-2.

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