Saturday, February 15th 2014
Such is the desperate need for more wins like Tuesday night’s success at Torquay United that the league positions of each of the Cobblers’ opponents from here on in can’t be seen as much of a factor. Back in November the Cobblers stunned Saturday’s hosts with a last gasp winner at Sixfields and it’s that same type of surprise that we need to drag up once again. Obviously a lot has changed but the need for points has just got more and more important.
Fleetwood welcome the Cobblers to the Highbury Stadium having lost some of the early 2014 momentum that had seen them in the top three at the end of January thanks to four wins and a draw in the opening month of the year. Since then, defeat at home to York City and a draw at Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday night as well as a home reverse in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at home to Chesterfield in between has slightly pushed them off course.
Graham Alexander’s side will be hoping to prevent a repeat of last season’s run of just two wins in their last fifteen games but after a summer of rebuilding they appear a much more solid outfit. With the club six points off the top of the table and ten clear of those outside the playoff positions there’s plenty to be positive about and there’s surely enough in their tanks to at least earn a top seven finish.
It points to perhaps the toughest test so far for Chris Wilder since joining the Cobblers and he’ll need to pull out all his away day reserves to come through – with the new look Town side starting to take shape, though, there may just be a chance that we can create another memorable moment against the Cod Army.
Fleetwood finally gave a debut to keeper Chris Maxwell on Tuesday night, more than eighteen months after he joined the club, as he finally dislodged long term stopper Scott Davies and put in a good performance so manager Graham Alexander has another tough decision to make in goal. Jamille Matt also returned after four months out and will once again be part of the squad whilst Gareth Evans impressed after coming off the bench and could be a starter.
The Cobblers will still be without Lee Collins who missed Tuesday night’s game at Torquay with a toe injury but Gregor Robertson should slot in at centre back again. New signing John Marquis came off the bench at Plainmoor and will be pushing for a place in the starting line-up. Roy O’Donovan left the Cobblers on Friday afternoon after having his contract terminated and James Hurst has returned to Crawley as his loan ends this weekend. Joe Widdowson, Ricky Ravenhill and Brennan Dickenson are both fighting to be fit despite picking up knocks in mid-week.
16/11/13: Cobblers 1-0 Fleetwood (League Two)
In a bottom v top clash earlier this season, it looked as though the game was set for a 0-0 draw until the Cobblers won a free kick on the edge of the area. Step forward loanee Luke Norris to curl in one of the more memorable goals of this season for a fine Cobblers victory.
05/01/13: Cobblers 3-1 Fleetwood (League Two)
Jake Robinson struck twice for the Cobblers in the first half at Sixfields last season to set Town on their way to a good victory. Clive Platt added a third just after half time before Jamie Allen scored a consolation in stoppage time.
15/09/12: Fleetwood 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
Danny East was sent off before the half hour mark for the Cobblers in our first ever league meeting with Fleetwood. Town hold on right up until stoppage time when Andrew Mangan scored a dramatic winner for the hosts.
07/11/09: Cobblers 2-1 Fleetwood (FA Cup First Round)
In a tight cup game at Sixfields the Cobblers struggled to overcome their then non-league opponents as Luke Guttridge’s opener was cancelled out by Sean Clancy just before half-time. But Guttridge spared the blushes of his team by firing in the winner on the hour mark.
The man in the middle…
Taking charge at the Highbury Stadium will be Richard Clark who last oversaw a Cobblers game in the memorable 2-0 win over Port Vale in October 2012 during which Alex Nicholls suffered his horrific broken leg that led to Vale’s John McCombe being sent off. Clark was also the official for Fleetwood’s 2-1 win at Rochdale back in December.
Another away game to really test the mettle of Chris Wilder’s unbeaten away record this season with both Oxford and the Cobblers and this really is a step up in class of opposition. The Cod Army will still be smarting from our late win at Sixfields earlier this season so won’t need a lot of motivating. Still, I think we have more about us defensively since Wilder took over so reckon we can nick what would be a valuable point. 1-1.