Saturday, January 31st 2014
That’s it…the transfer window has shut and we can only rely on emergency loan deals from now until the end of the season. It’s been a hectic week at Sixfields with Paul Reid, Ishmel Demontagnac, Clive Platt and Hallam Hope all leaving in some form and the arrivals of Emile Sinclair, Alan Connell, Ricky Ravenhill and Leon McSweeney giving us a freshness and revitalisation that was desperately needed.
All four of the new signings will all be available for the trip to Whaddon Road and will add some much needed craft, grit and experience to the side.
The game is, of course, a repeat of the playoff semi-final second leg with Wilder’s first game in charge set to come on the same ground as Aidy Boothroyd’s last real moment of success. The Rubies have come a long way since our 1-1 draw at Sixfields earlier this season and have dragged themselves out of the relegation dog fight.
Mark Yates won the League Two Manager of the Month award for December after three wins out of five but they’ve not got going in 2014 yet having lost at Burton and at home to Accrington before last weekend’s draw at Plymouth. It leaves them in thirteenth place and facing an uphill battle if they’re to challenge for the top seven again. Coming in for them this week is Swansea City midfielder Lee Lucas, who spent time on loan with Burton Albion last season, on a one month loan deal and Mitch Brundle on loan from Bristol City.
Chris Wilder will be well aware of what he needs to do and the bottom line is that we need points and need them fast. Let’s get going with this great escape!
Cheltenham will have Lee Lucas available after joining from Swansea and also signed defender Mitch Brundle from Bristol City in time to feature. Michael Ihiekwe has extended his loan deal from Wolves until the end of the season and may make his home debut for the Rubies. The hosts will be without David Noble, though, as he is still out with a hamstring injury.
As mentioned, the Cobblers will have four new signings ready to go at Whaddon Road with Alan Connell, Emile Sinclair, Ricky Ravenhill and Leon McSweeney all hoping to make their Town debuts. Chris Hackett is still touch and go with Chris Wilder unlikely to risk him unless he’s 100% fit.
Previous Six Meetings…
26/10/13: Cobblers 1-1 Cheltenham (League Two)
Earlier this season the clubs played out a tight draw at Sixfields as Byron Harrison shot Cheltenham in front before Cobblers loanee Luke Norris levelled just before the break.
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.
The man in the middle…
The referee at Whaddon Road will be Paul Tierney who has shown 71 yellow cards and 9 reds so far this season and last took charge of the Cobblers in last season’s 3-1 home win over Wycombe Wanderers.
With so many new faces likely to make their debuts for both sides it’s hard to pick a winner for this one. Chris Wilder will be desperate to recreate the away for that took Oxford into the top seven before he left and fingers crossed for a good start to his reign. If the game goes ahead I can see us nicking a point. 1-1.
As of 8am, Cheltenham are saying that the pitch is looking OK and will keep monitoring the situation as the morning progresses. More rain is expected so it could be another game at risk from the weather.