Saturday, October 10th 2013
We’ve had a good week to be buoyant over a rare away win last Saturday with the victory at AFC Wimbledon coming at just the right time. It gets no easier, though, as we prepare to make the trip to Oxford United on Saturday. The U’s have been one of the early pace setters in League Two, though that’s been mainly based on performances on the road with form at the Kassam Stadium holding them back slightly from the coat tails of the league leaders.
This type of form has been exemplified in recent weeks with the U’s losing out by a single goal to fellow high flyers Chesterfield at the Kassam Stadium before hitting back with a 3-1 win away at Hartlepool and then stuttering again on their own turf by losing 2-0 to Southend United. Another home reverse, this time in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, on Tuesday night against Portsmouth means that they come into the game looking to give their own supporters something to shout about.
The Cobblers have shored up a shaky defence and are coming into the game off the back of two clean sheets in a row thanks to a new and developing partnership between Paul Reid and Mathias Doumbe. They should be back in place at the heart of the back line on Saturday but the problems for Town lie further up the pitch and particularly up front.
A game against a side struggling for form at home usually brings about a turn in fortunes for them when the Cobblers come to Town (see Bristol Rovers last season and many more before!) so fingers crossed for that pattern to stop and for us to pick something up from this one. Anything at all gained from what is one of the hardest games of the season so far would keep this momentum going.
Oxford could be boosted by the return of captain Jake Wright who has been recovering from surgery on an abscess for the last four weeks. Michael Raynes has been deputising and recent performances could leave Chis Wilder with a welcome headache in terms of team selection for the visit of the Cobblers. Also returning to action is midfielder Andy Whing – he’s been suspended for the last three games following a sending off in the defeat to Chesterfield in September.
The Cobblers are still without Clive Platt whilst Jacob Blyth went back to Leicester last week. Roy O’Donovan has added to the striker crisis as he is only 50/50 for the game with an ankle injury. That’s also the case for former Oxford man Chris Hackett who is suffering with a groin injury and could miss out.
Previous Six Meetings…
23/03/13: Cobblers 1-0 Oxford (League Two)
This was a crucial win for the Cobblers towards the end of last season as Ben Harding’s goal on the stroke of half-time kept up the tremendous run of form at Sixfields that was to be the main reason for reaching the playoffs.
24/11/12: Oxford 2-1 Cobblers (League Two)
James Constable put the U’s in front on fifteen minutes in our last meeting at the Kassam Stadium. Clive Platt looked to have earned a point for the Cobblers but Jon-Paul Pittman struck back again for the home side moments later with the crucial deciding goal. To compound our misery, Clarke Carlisle was sent off in the final minute of the game.
06/04/12: Cobbler s 2-1 Oxford (League Two)
A cracking Good Friday match under the Sixfields lights saw Luke Guttridge score inside the first minute to give the Cobblers the lead. Christian Montano equalised before Neal Kitson saved his second penalty in as many games to keep us in it. Right at the death, Brett Williams chased down what looked like a lost cause, cut inside and curled in one of the most important goals of the season to earn a simply massive three points on the way to Football League safety.
17/12/11: Oxford 2-0 Cobblers (League Two)
This was my wedding day so I barely knew we were playing this match until my best man reminded me with a sneaky score update during dinner. Those that were concentrating saw Town comfortably beaten thanks to goals from Tom Craddock and Deane Smalley.
22/01/11: Cobblers 2-1 Oxford (League Two)
Andy Holt gave the Cobblers the lead at Sixfields going into half-time but Tom Craddock pulled things level two minutes after the break. Leon McKenzie sealed a big win, though, by putting in the winner with a quarter of the game to go.
23/10/10: Oxford 3-1 Cobblers (League Two)
Alfie Potter scored early on in this one but Leon McKenzie equalised on fifteen minutes. Josh Payne would give the U’s the lead back right on the stroke of half-time and when John Johnson was sent off for a foul in the area on ninety minutes, Tom Craddock stepped up to seal the victory for the hosts.
The man in the middle…
When you automatically shudder when you find out who the referee is you know you’re in trouble! This week, we reacquaint ourselves with Darren Deadman who takes charge at the Kassam Stadium. His last Cobblers game was the 2-1 win at Aldershot Town last season. More recently, he was the official for Oxford’s 1-0 win at Dagenham and Redbridge in April. He’s shown 28 yellow cards and one red so far this season.
The recent boost in form doesn’t do an awful lot for my ambitions for getting a result at Oxford…their poor form at home makes me think it’s going to turn for them against the one team you want to play when you’re on a bad run! I’ll have to go for an ambitious shut out draw. 0-0