With the relief and celebrations for the Cobblers last weekend it’s suddenly hit us that we’re down to the final home game of the season this weekend with plenty of interest to stop this one from becoming a run of the mill, end of season game.
For one, the reverse fixture at the Priestfield was one of the most dramatic involving the Cobblers from this entire campaign with Town edged out 4-3 on a day when both sides appeared to feel that defence was the best form of attack! There’s also another chance for Bayo to get one over on the club he joined for one season and also, of course, for Danny Jackman to make another Sixfields return.
Since the last meeting back in November, Gillingham have been their usual playoff bothering selves without breaking into the top seven frequently enough for their fans’ liking. They’re down to last chance saloon as they sit four points from a playoff berth with just six to play for. If they’re to have any chance at all of making it to the end of season lottery then they will have to take home maximum points on Saturday.
Aidy Boothroyd, on the other hand, will be demanding nothing less than total focus from a group of players that still might be looking to their contract situations next season and be looking to impress the boss ahead of some inevitable summer cuts.
So this should be far from a stroll for either side with Cobblers fans willing us to finish strongly and be rewarded for some fantastic support through the last nine months.
The Cobblers stopped a rot of three successive defeats last weekend to finally secure league survival with a goalless draw at Hereford United.
Gillingham come into the game having beaten Swindon Town 3-1 at home last Saturday to keep alive their playoff hopes. Swindon were promoted despite that defeat but it should give Andy Hessenthaler’s men renewed hope having previously picked up just one win in seven.
Aidy Boothroyd won’t be making too many changes to his side despite securing league status last weekend. A bid from Derby for Michael Jacobs was turned down this week so expect the midfielder to be right in the mix on Saturday with other scouts expected to be circling Sixfields.
Gillingham have their own wanted man in goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga. Having established himself as the Gills’ number one in February, the stopper has begun to attract attention from elsewhere. The 20-Year-Old should start again on Saturday. Meanwhile, Andy Frampton will be hoping to return from illness to play some part in the game and Chris Whelpdale will be battling to overcome a knee problem. Callum Davies remains side-lined with a hand injury.
One of the most controversial departures from Sixfields in recent years was that of Danny Jackman who suffered an early season ‘injury’ before signing for Gillingham and playing the day after proclaiming this problem to the Cobblers fans. Jackman had previously won the supporter’s Player of the Year award twice during a two year stay with the Cobblers.
Bayo Akinfenwa is another man who has turned out for both club after he signed for Gillingham for one year from Town before returning here last summer.
Last Six Meetings…
05/11/11: Gillingham 4-3 Cobblers
A memorable match at the Priestfield saw Jo Kuffour net a first half hat-trick for the home side to give them a seemingly insurmountable lead despite Saido Berahino scoring in between times for the Cobblers. A superb fight back from the Cobblers pulled things back to 3-3 with Kelvin Langmead and Berahino again hitting back before Bayo Akinfenwa missed a golden chance to put us in front. But it was the home side who took the glory in stoppage time when Danny Kedwell slotted in a penalty after Frank Nouble was brought down by Langmead to crush the Cobblers.
15/01/11: Gillingham 1-0 Cobblers
Cody McDonald scored the only goal in an otherwise forgettable game back in January 2011 at The Priestfield.
30/10/10: Cobblers 2-1 Gillingham
Chris Palmer gave Gillingham an early lead in the last Sixfields meeting between the two sides but Dean Beckwith levelled things before Leon McKenzie’s penalty sealed a good home win for the Cobblers.
16/02/08: Cobblers 4-0 Gillingham
Back when both sides were in League One, the Cobblers completed a league double over the Gills with a hammering thanks to a first half double from Jason Crowe and Bayo Akinfenwa and a second half which saw Bayo net again and Giles Coke complete the scoring.
19/01/08: Gillingham 0-1 Cobblers
A month before the Sixfields win, Town came home from the Priestfield with an important single goal victory after Daniel Jones’ third minute free kick turns out to be the only goal.
16/02/07: Cobblers 1-1 Gillingham
Dean McDonald thought that he’d given Gillingham an away win after he scored on the hour but with four minutes to go, Sheffield United loanee Jordan Robertson nicked the Cobblers a hard earned point.
The Man In The Middle…
Keith Stroud is the man charged with keeping order on Saturday. Stroud took charge of Gillingham’s 4-3 home defeat to Crewe back in March, during which he sent off Danny Spiller, but his last Cobblers game was over a year ago in the 2-2 home draw with Rotherham United.
It’s the last home game of the season, there’s a party we need to poop and there should be niggling images on the players’ minds of that 4-3 defeat in November so hopefully we’ll still be up for it. There should be goals again so I’ll go for a 3-2 Cobblers win.