Saturday, August 18th 2012
After the delightful opening to the 2012/13 season on Tuesday night that saw Cardiff City disposed of in the Capital One Cup, it’s down to the graft of league action as the Cobblers’ League Two campaign gets underway on Saturday with a trip to recently relegated Rochdale. The ‘Dale will be looking for a flying start back in the division that they made their home for many, many years and will provide Town with one of the toughest starts possible.
Promotion Party memories…
Our hosts this weekend will have fond memories of the last meeting between the clubs as they were promoted from League Two after a 1-0 victory over the Cobblers on April 17th 2010. That win helped them to third place in the final standings and ended a run of thirty six straight seasons in League Two.
A summer of change…
There’s been a bit of an upheaval at Spotland over the summer with thirteen new faces arriving including veteran striker Dele Adebola who joined from Hull City to fill the gap left by Reece Gray who suffered a horrific injury during a behind closed doors friendly with Liverpool recently and who is likely to be out until at least the New Year. Former Tranmere and Carlisle striker Craig Curran and goalkeeper Ben Smith are the latest recruits and were both on the bench for last weekend’s season opener in the League Cup.
Cup Epic at Spotland…
Dale have already been a part of a classic cup tie at Spotland having been edged out by Championship side Barnsley last weekend in a seven goal thriller that went all the way to extra time. Andrew Tutte put them in front before the Tykes turned it around thanks to goals from John Stones and Craig Davies. But, after a red card for Barnsley keeper Ben Alnwick, Jason Kennedy converted a penalty to take the game to extra time. In a frantic scrap of the extra half an hour, Chris Dagnall scored twice for the visitors and, despite another Kennedy spot kick, helped them to an eventual 4-3 victory.
Quick return for Joe…
New Cobblers signing Joe Widdowson makes a swift return to Spotland on Saturday having played over fifty times for Rochdale over the last couple of seasons. Widdowson joined on a free transfer having turned down new terms with ‘Dale at the end of last season and made a confident debut for Town on Tuesday night against Cardiff.
Rochdale are definitely without Reece Gray with the striker ruled out for months with the aforementioned injury whilst midfielder Luke Watson is also out after suffering a knee injury in training following a collision with goalkeeping coach Bernie Hirmir.
The only Cobblers change from Tuesday night should see Dean Snedker return to the bench to allow Lee Nicholls to make his full debut. Nicholls was ruled out of that one because parent club Wigan Athletic wouldn’t allow him permission to take part.
As mentioned, Joe Widdowson has spent the last two seasons at Rochdale, both of which has seen them playing League One football.
Fellow new signing Clive Platt also had a successful run at Rochdale early in his career, playing over a hundred and fifty games for the club and scoring thirty times in a four year stint.
Last Six Meetings…
17/04/10: Rochdale 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
Chris O’Grady’s twenty second minute strike was enough to send ‘Dale into League One with the single goal coupled with a tense second half confirming their promotion.
19/09/09: Cobblers 1-2 Rochdale (League Two)
Earlier that season, the Cobblers had slipped to a 2-1 home defeat with O’Grady scoring in the opening twenty minutes. Ryan Gilligan levelled for Town but Will Buckley scored with a stunner of a goal just a few minutes later to send his side home with all three points.
08/04/06: Cobblers 2-2 Rochdale (League Two)
Josh Low put Town in front at Sixfields and Scott McGleish looked to have given us another stepping stone towards promotion but a second half double from Rickie Lambert, including a last minute penalty, pulled it back for the draw.
02/01/06: Rochdale 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)
Pedj Bojic looked to have given the Cobblers a big win with the first goal of the game early in the second half but a Josh Low own goal meant that we came home from Spotland with just the one point.
08/03/05: Rochdale 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
Prolific striker Rickie Lambert was again a thorn in the Cobblers’ side as he scored the only goal of the game in March 2008 with Town going on to lose out in the playoffs at the end of that season.
23/10/04: Cobblers 5-1 Rochdale (League Two)
A storming with for the Cobblers with former Town defender Daryl Burgess having a day to forget as he scored an early own goal to put us in front before seeing red ten minutes later. Martin Smith scored twice before the break before another own goal, this time from Neil Edwards, made it 4-0 mid-way through the second half. Gareth Griffiths got a consolation for ‘Dale but Josh Low wrapped things up in stoppage time.
The Man in the Middle…
The man in charge of the Cobblers’ first league game of the season is Tony Harrington who is in his first season in the Football League having worked mainly in the Blue Square Premier League last season.
It’s a really tricky opener for the Cobblers and I would be happy to pick up a point from this one. After Tuesday night’s cup exploits for both teams there’s goals in it so I’m going for a 2-2 draw.