Saturday, September 7th 2013
After another defeat and red card on Tuesday night it gets no easier for the Cobblers as Scunthorpe United come to town tomorrow afternoon. It’s the first time we’ve faced one of the relegated sides from League One last season and with the Iron setting their sights on an immediate return to that level it’s going to be tough going.
If Town are to get back to winning ways we need to perform for both halves of the game and keep eleven men on the pitch – a combination that we’ve arguably only really managed once this season, against Newport County. There’s been some dramatic games between the two sides in the seasons where we have met but this is the first game between the sides since the 2008/09 season where we shared fourteen goals in two league games against each other!
Scunthorpe are still finding their feet at League Two level once again having won two promotions in three seasons since departing these shores in 2005. There’s been two separate stints in the Championship since then with the second of those seasons ending in the Iron finishing bottom before suffering a second relegation in three years when they finished 21st last term.
So it’s a rebuilding job ahead for boss Brian Laws who returned to the hot seat last October. Laws was at Glanford Park for nearly ten years before taking charge of Sheffield Wednesday in 2006 before a brief spell at Burnley in the Premier League and then at the start of their Championship campaign was ended after a 2-0 defeat to Scunthorpe. After the Iron sacked Alan Knill last season following a poor start to the season, Laws was identified as the man to come in and stop the rot. That start had everlasting effects, though, and he couldn’t prevent relegation, bringing him to his first full season back at the helm in the basement division.
It’s been an up and down start with one victory, three draws and a defeat from the opening five games and they’ll be heading to Sixfields with an eye on picking up three points to propel them away from mid-table and up towards the right end of the table. Hopefully me picking them as dark horses for promotion won’t start to come to fruition until after Saturday’s game!
The Cobblers are without Ishmel Demontagnac who saw red against MK Dons in midweek and now faces a three match ban. Roy O’Donovan served his suspension for a red card last weekend during that game so he returns and Jacob Blyth will have given Aidy Boothroyd food for thought with a positive display at Stadium: MK so he could come in for Clive Platt. Joe Widdowson and Ian Morris both sat out of the last couple of games but will be back in contention for Scunthorpe’s visit. Matty Harriott made his debut on Tuesday night and could be handed a first league start for the club.
Scunthorpe made two changes for the midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Sheffield United with Etienne Esajas set to be involved against the Cobblers after his first appearance for the club in that game. The Dutchman had spent a year out of the game completely but re-signed with his former Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws this summer and has been battling to get match fit. Elsewhere, captain Michael Collins is out with knee ligament damage suffered in the 3-2 defeat at AFC Wimbledon and will remain on the sidelines for another month. Other than that, though, Laws has no new injury concerns ahead of the trip to Sixfields.
Previous Six Meetings…
21/04/09: Cobblers 3-3 Scunthorpe (League One)
Jason Crowe put the Cobblers in front late in the first half but before the break Liam Trotter grabbed an equaliser for the visitors. Grant McCann’s spot kick had the Iron in front but Ikechi Anya levelled the game again on the hour mark. Matt Sparrow looked to have won it for his side but the Cobblers again pulled it back when Mark Hughes headed in a Danny Jackman corner to keep League One survival hopes alive.
13/12/08: Scunthorpe 4-4 Cobblers (League One)
In one of our most dramatic games in recent memory, Scunthorpe looked to be on the way to an easy win when they moved into a 4-1 lead thanks to braces from Ben May and Gary Hooper with Scott McGleish’s strike seemingly only a consolation when he scored in the midst of that pummelling. But Giles Coke made it 4-2 before Danny Jackman gave us real hope just before the hour mark. Jackman then completed an astonishing comeback when Jackman scored direct from a corner with five minutes to go!
09/04/07: Cobblers 2-1 Scunthorpe (League One)
A memorable Easter Monday saw hundreds of Cobblers fans march from Northampton Guildhall to Sixfields in protest of the council’s delays of the stadium redevelopment before the game. Scunthorpe went into the game knowing that a win would earn them promotion from League One but Alex Pearce, on loan from Reading, converted David Hunt’s corner to put us in front. Billy Sharp equalised mid-way through the second half but deep, deep into stoppage time came a memorable Sixfields moment as Jordan Robertson’s cross was fired in at the back post by Bradley Johnson to earn three points towards League One safety. Johnson was then sent off for his celebrations but the majority of Sixfields weren’t too fussed!
18/11/06: Scunthorpe 1-0 Cobblers (League One)
A much quieter meeting earlier that season saw the Iron take all three points thanks to an Andy Crosby penalty with four minutes to play at Glanford Park.
09/04/05: Cobblers 1-2 Scunthorpe (League Two)
Andy Kirk put the Cobblers in front early on at Sixfields but the lead wouldn’t last long as Paul Hayes equalised ten minutes later. Richard Kell netted what turned out to be the winner twenty minutes in with Town struggling to find a response.
30/08/04: Scunthorpe 2-0 Cobblers (League Two)
Early on in the 2004/05 season, Scunthorpe beat against a Cobblers side that had made a reasonable start to the campaign under Colin Calderwood. Andy Keogh and an Andy Crosby penalty earned the Iron their fourth win in six League Two games. They would go on to finish second behind Yeovil Town with the Cobblers entering the playoffs and losing in the semi-finals for the second successive year.
Other notable clashes…
Sean Parrish’s goal in May 1997 earned a 1-0 win at Sixfields over Scunny with the win taking us to within a point of reaching the Division Three (League Two) playoffs. The rest is history!
Scunthorpe beat the Cobblers 7-0 in October 1993 with Matt Carmichael scoring a hat-trick. Also on the score sheet that day was Matt Elliott, who would later go on to star in the Premier League for Leicester City.
A season earlier, the Iron had hammered Town 5-0 in another routing at Glanford Park whilst the previous two games between the clubs at United’s home ended 3-0 in favour of Scunny!
The only cup game between the sides was a 3-2 Cobblers win in the 1970/71 League Cup at Glanford Park. Town would go on to beat York City after TWO replays in Round Two before bowing out at the hands of Aston Villa after another replay in Round Three.
The man in the middle…
Taking charge of the game on Saturday will be Sebastian Stockbridge. He’s in his first year as a referee in the Football League having progressed from the Conference last season. Stockbridge has shown twelve yellow cards and one red in four games so far this season.
This is a big game for the Cobblers with home fans expectant after four defeats in five games in League Two. Three points would be a massive boost but I fear that Scunthorpe will have enough to make it a frustrating afternoon. There should be goals, though. 2-2.