Saturday, February 8th 2014
The time is now, the desperation is high and the Great Escape attempt 2014 is officially under way. It’s the third time in four seasons that we’ve found ourselves in a right good mess and after last week’s good point at Cheltenham Town Chris Wilder will be hoping for a victory that would earn three vital points and get the home support immediately on his side.
It was a battling display at Whaddon Road and one that saw the new signings prove their worth in a real tester of an away day as Town came from behind to earn a point. It’s wins that are needed at home, though, and on Saturday we come up against a Plymouth Argyle side that may still have outside hopes of a top seven finish.
To achieve that, they also need to get moving and get in the goals quickly. The Pilgrims are the second lowest scorers in League Two (just ahead of us, of course!) and sit slap bang in the middle of the table. Since beating Devon rivals Torquay United on New Year’s Day they’ve drawn three out of four in the league and were edged out of the FA Cup in a replay against Port Vale so they’ll be hoping to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later so that the playoff chasers don’t pull too far away.
There’s usually a cracking atmosphere when Plymouth come to town with a good turnout in the away end almost every time we play them – with renewed hope in the home sections of Sixfields this should be a decent one!
The Cobblers could hand home debuts to Alan Connell, Emile Sinclair, Leon McSweeney and Gregor Robertson with Ricky Ravenhill also set to be reintroduced to the home fans after signing his permanent deal last week. Chris Hackett is set to return from a hamstring injury to boost Chris Wilder’s options but loanees Matty Blair and Sean McGinty have returned to their parent clubs Fleetwood Town and Sheffield United this week. James Hurst has gone back to training with Crawley Town despite having a couple of weeks still to run on his loan deal.
On Friday afternoon the Cobblers also brought in left winger Brennan Dickenson on a loan deal until the end of the season and he goes straight into the squad for Saturday’s game.
Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick is facing a lengthy injury lay off thanks to a fractured and dislocated finger suffered during last week’s draw with Mansfield Town. Jake Cole should continue to deputise in goal again after replacing McCormick in that game but the club have also today announced the signing of young stopper Cameron Dawson on a youth loan from Sheffield Wednesday until the end of the season. Andres Gurrieri will miss the game as he serves the last of a three game ban after he was sent off at Rochdale a couple of weeks ago while the Pilgrims will also still be without Marvin Morgan, Durrell Berry, Guy Branston and Matt Parsons. Neal Trotman is recovering from an ankle injury and should be clear to play.
Previous Six Meetings…
02/11/13: Plymouth 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
Earlier this season, Lewis Alessandra’s goal in stoppage time gave Plymouth back to back league wins for the first time this season as the Cobblers crashed to the bottom of League Two.
23/02/13: Cobblers 1-0 Plymouth (League Two)
This was one of a number of narrow home wins that shot us towards the playoffs last season with Clive Platt’s goal the difference at Sixfields.
01/09/12: Plymouth 3-2 Cobblers (League Two)
Alex Nicholls gave the Cobblers a 26th minute lead at Home Park last season but Warren Feeney levelled just after half-time. Rhys Griffiths scored just before the hour to turn the game in Argyle’s favour and Curtis Nelson made it three. David Artell’s stoppage time strike was merely a consolation and there was no time to grab a point.
24/03/12: Cobblers 0-0 Plymouth (League Two)
Tight draw at Sixfields as neither side could make the breakthrough with both clubs making progress towards League Two survival.
26/11/11: Plymouth 4-1 Cobblers (League Two)
As the Cobblers came under the caretaker management of Tim Flowers for one game, Plymouth smelt blood and were 4-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Simon Walton (penalty), Nick Chadwick, Will Atkinson and Ashley Hemmings. Bayo Akinfenwa got a late consolation but it was a desperate day for the Cobblers in Devon.
08/11/03: Cobblers 3-2 Plymouth (FA Cup First Round)
The Cobblers, in League Two, saw off the League One Pilgrims in an enthralling cup tie at Sixfields. David Friio put the visitors in front before Richard Walker sent the sides in level at half time. Chris Hargreaves scored against his old side on the hour but Ian Stonebridge equalised. The stage was set for a dramatic finale and Derek Asamoah provided it with a fine winner to send us through to Round Two.
The man in the middle…
Nigel Miller is the official on Saturday at Sixfields. Miller took a Cobblers game as recently as December in the 1-1 draw at Bury. His last Plymouth game was a 2-1 away win for the Pilgrims at Chesterfield in April of last year.
From the Opposition…
For all the views of Argyle fan Dave Weeks, check out his Fan Feature here.
Pitch / Weather watch…
The Sixfields pitch has benefited this week from the investment in rain covers and before they went on the surface was playable. The situation will be monitored in the build up to the match, though, with further rain expected. To pass the time as you wait, you can check out this thrilling video of the covers going on:
We have to get back to winning ways at home…there’s simply no time to dawdle as the season heads towards the final furlong with Town six points behind the pace and survival. I think we can do it here in Chris Wilder’s first game in charge but it will be close. 1-0.