Saturday, August 24th 2013
The Cobblers return home for another Sixfields test on Saturday afternoon with winless Torquay United in town. Pressure will be on after another defeat on the road last weekend and we have to push on at Sixfields whilst this travel sickness goes on. The Gulls pushed us close back on Good Friday with only a late Roy O’ Donovan strike between the sides and it’s likely to be a similarly tight game this time around.
Alan Knill was appointed full time Torquay boss over the summer having steered the club to league safety. He took over the reins from Martin Ling who was taken ill in mid-January and did enough in his interim stint to convince the powers that be that he was the right man going forward. Knill has bags of experience at this level having led Bury to fourth place and the League Two playoff semi-finals in 2009 so you get the feeling that he has unfinished business in the basement division.
His summer has been a busy one with Elliot Benyon making a full time return to Plainmoor after a four year spell at the club between 2007 and 2011 and a loan move last season. Also coming in were a couple of players with Cobblers links with ex youth team player Courtney Cameron signing, former Town loan striker Karl Hawley moving in from Scunthorpe and Ben Harding agreeing a deal shortly after leaving Sixfields at the end of last season. There’s extra spice added to the game with Ian Morris also set to play against his old club having swapped with Harding over the summer!
So plenty of old faces to reacquaint with but the big job is to get the three points to balance out the poor start on the road once more.
The Cobblers are without the suspended Chris Hackett who was shown two yellow cards just twenty two minutes into his return to action against Southend last weekend. Clive Platt returned to the bench at Roots Hall so he will be pushing for a place in the starting eleven but Lewis Hornby is still out. Matt Heath is back in line for a start after missing the last couple of games through an injury picked up in the warm up of the Newport game.
Torquay keeper Michael Poke was expected to return but his thigh problem has flared up again this week, meaning Martin Rice will continue to deputise. Other than that, the visitors have no new injury worried with Kevin Nicholson recovering well from having stitches in his cheek after a collision during the 3-1 defeat to Oxford last weekend. Elliot Benyon is pushing for a place in the starting line-up after coming back from a concussion while Dale Tongue is back following suspension.
Previous Six Meetings…
29/03/13: Cobblers 1-0 Torquay (League Two)
On a tense Good Friday evening at Sixfields the game was goalless until Roy O’ Donovan nicked in for an eighty fifth minute winner that kept up an ultimately unsuccessful bid for a place in the top three last season.
15/12/12: Torquay 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)
Former Cobblers loan striker Ryan Jarvis put the Gulls in front in the away fixture last season and it looked like we were on course for defeat until Kelvin Langmead hammered in one of his trademark last minute goals to earn Town a point.
28/01/12: Torquay 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
Mark Ellis scored the only goal of the game in the last meeting between the sides back in January with his header fifteen minutes from time sealing three points for the Gulls.
10/09/11: Cobblers 0-0 Torquay (League Two)
Uneventful draw at Sixfields earlier that season saw both sides go home relatively happy with a point.
25/03/11: Cobblers 2-2 Torquay (League Two)
In a manic finale to this crucial game towards the end the 2010/11 season, Eunan O’Kane gave Torquay the lead early on before John Johnson levelled. Billy Kee netted a 90th minute goal to seemingly give the Gulls all three points but incredibly Guillem Bauza equalised again in stoppage time!
07/08/10: Torquay 3-0 Cobblers (League Two)
An opening day of the season encounter at Plainmoor ended with Torquay making the perfect start to the campaign after a 3-0 hammering that saw Kevin Nicholson open the scoring against his former club and Chris Zebroski and Elliot Benyon make it safe early in the second half.
The man in the middle…
Andrew Madley is the man charged with officiating on Saturday afternoon. Madley last refereed a Cobblers game in the League Two playoff semi-final, second leg at Cheltenham Town at the end of last season with his last Torquay game being a 1-0 defeat at Gillingham back in April. He’s taken charge of four games so far this season, showing ten yellow cards and one red – to Tranmere’s Danny Holmes last weekend.
With away form taking its regular form in the first month of the season it’s crucial that we keep things going on the home front. Torquay haven’t won yet but it’ll still be a close encounter but I think we’ve got enough in us to sneak it. 1-0
From the opposition…
Gulls fan Christina Smart gave us her view on all things Torquay this week and you can read her thoughts here.