Saturday, November 26th 2013
The Cobblers could do with getting ahead of the game and there’s a chance to do just that on Saturday when we kick off at 2pm against last season’s playoff semi-final opponents Cheltenham Town. Times have dramatically changed for both clubs since the Cobblers won 2-0 on aggregate back in May to clinch a place at Wembley with both of us suffering from hangovers that have kept us in the lower reaches of League Two.
The Rubies have started to improve as of late with a 2-1 win at Dagenham a couple of weeks ago and a 3-0 rout of Morecambe on Tuesday night sandwiching a late defeat at home to Rochdale. Mark Yates has urged fans to stay patient and loyal and his side appear to be making a move in the right direction.
The Cobblers have been through spells of anything and everything running against them with red cards, late goals, injuries and individuals’ lack of form and ultimately we are running out of excuses. After coming so close to three points at Rochdale on Tuesday night only to lose the game you start to wonder if confidence will be drained ahead of a tough home game.
We simply cannot keep coming away from games saying that this or that went against us, that a bad decision or moment of madness cost us – three points need to be delivered to match what has appeared to be decent enough performances in the last couple of weeks.
Don’t forget that early kick off –all fingers crossed for a morale boosting victory and, finally, an escape from the bottom two.
Joe Widdowson returned for the Cobblers on Tuesday night and he will likely keep his place at left-back. Kevin Amankwaah suffered a pulled hamstring at Spotland and will be out for a couple of weeks so Lee Collins should deputise at right back. Clive Platt is still missing whilst Roy O’ Donovan is doubtful once again meaning that loanees Stuart Dallas and Luke Norris – both scorers on Tuesday night – should start.
Cheltenham are without Craig Braham-Barrett with Matt Richards set to take his place at left-back. Ashley Vincent is unavailable due to a personal matter but Sam Deering, Terry Gornell and Dave Noble should all keep their places in the starting line-up.
Previous Six Meetings…
05/05/12: Cheltenham 0-1 Cobblers (League Two Playoff Semi-Final, Second Leg)
In a tense second leg of last season’s playoff semi-finals, Luke Guttridge scored with a stunning volley from a Bayo Akinfenwa knock down to seal a place at Wembley for the Cobblers. Earlier in the game Lee Nicholls had saved a penalty from Marlon Pack and he was one of the key reasons for the score remaining in our favour.
02/05/13: Cobblers 1-0 Cheltenham (League Two Playoff Semi-Final, First Leg)
Roy O’ Donovan finished off a flowing move involving Bayo Akinfenwa and Chris Hackett to set up the second leg with Town a goal to the good. Akinfenwa could have added another in the second half but for a terrific save from Rubies keeper Scott Brown.
01/04/13: Cheltenham 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
As the Cobblers sat three points ahead of Cheltenham at the start of April last season, the Rubies had to win to close the gap on a Town side who still had a chance of automatic promotion. After a quiet first half, Steve Elliot netted the crucial winner on the stroke of half-time to set up a dramatic final few weeks of the season.
08/12/012: Cobblers 2-3 Cheltenham (League Two)
The Cobblers looked set for a good home win when Bayo Akinfenwa scored after just two minutes and Billy Jones put through his own net soon after. But Darren Carter and Chris Zebroski levelled things up before even half an hour had passed and it was left to Darryl Duffy to slot in the winner for a stunning turnaround late on for the visitors.
03/03/12: Cheltenham 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)
Ben Tozer and Bayo Akinfenwa gave the Cobblers a surprise two goal lead at Whaddon Road in the first half but the hosts hit back in the second as Darryl Duffy slotted in a penalty before clinching a point for his side in stoppage time.
20/08/11: Cobblers 2-3 Cheltenham (League Two)
In the second home game of the 2011/12 season, Darryl Duffy opened the scoring from the spot for Cheltenham on eleven minutes but goals either side of half time from Arron Davies and Bayo Akinfenwa steered the game in our favour. The Rubies had other ideas though and Duffy got on the end of a cross from ex-Cobbler Josh Low to level it before Low himself won it ten minutes from time.
The man in the middle…
Taking charge of Saturday’s game is Martin Atkinson, a top flight official who has officiated games including Man United v Chelsea and Holland v Hungary in a World Cup qualifier last week. His last Cobblers game was way back in 2006 as Carlisle won 3-0 at Sixfields.
I don’t know what to expect from the Cobblers at the moment but it’s clear that we need a win by any means. Whether we can beat an improving Rubies side is another matter and I fear that we could be heading for a frustrating time. There’s usually plenty of goals in league games between the clubs at least and I’ll go for 2-2.
From the opposition…
Rubies’ fan Matt gave his thoughts on his side’s season so far and more here.