Northampton Town v Bristol Rovers: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Bristol Rovers

League Two

Saturday, March 1st 2014

As the joy of back to back wins for the Cobblers sinks in, as does the realisation that there’s still a big, big job to do. Bristol Rovers are the third side to visit Sixfields this week and they bring with them their own upward momentum in the face of relegation trouble. The Gas are unbeaten in four with good draws at home to Oxford and away at Scunthorpe book ending victories over Cheltenham Town and Burton Albion and will really test Town’s nerve and new found spirit.

The point at Scunthorpe on Tuesday night was particularly impressive for John Ward’s men with Steven Gillespie’s late equaliser earning a draw against a team who were, at that point, holding on to top spot in League Two. On the same night, the Cobblers were hanging on to a similarly impressive result against Southend United and it’s the same hunger needed as we go head to head with Rovers.

Despite their good form, the visitors are still only six points away from the Cobblers meaning that a win would guarantee us to move within three of safety. Tricky away games for Accrington, Wycombe and Mansfield will hopefully keep at least a couple of them down within touching distance but what’s most important is that we get our own jobs done and carry on this winning feeling.

Taking the foot of the gas is not an option…

Team News…

The Cobblers have no new injury worries for the game with Joe Widdowson likely to miss out again through an ankle injury. Gregor Robertson came in for him on Tuesday night and should continue to deputise. The only other change may see Alan Connell pushing for a start following another good showing from the bench against Southend. Lee Collins, Lewis Hornby, Kelvin Langmead and Alex Nicholls are out for the season.

Rovers will be without Alan Gow after the forward was stretchered off in Tuesday’s draw with Scunthorpe United with an ankle injury while Tom Lockyer is battling to be fit after suffering from a broken nose against the Iron.

Previous Six Meetings…

31/08/13: Bristol Rovers 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)

Back in August, the Cobblers were beaten by Tom Lockyer’s goal after just two minutes at the Memorial Stadium. Town striker Roy O’Donovan was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offense to compound another miserable away day.

26/02/13: Cobblers 1-0 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

In the midst of a superb home run in the second half of last season, Ben Harding’s late winner was enough to keep us rolling on towards the playoffs.

06/10/12: Bristol Rovers 3-1 Cobblers (League Two)

The Gas had not won a home game up until the Cobblers visited in early October last season. Anthony Charles was sent off within twenty five minutes and that set the tone for a disappointing day. Tom Eaves put Rovers in front just after the break and Gary Kenneth made it two just after. Bayo Akinfenwa headed in from a Ben Tozer throw in to give us hope but Oliver Norburn sealed that first home success for the hosts.

06/03/12: Cobblers 3-2 Bristol Rovers (League Two)

A massive win for the Cobblers towards League Two survival in 2011/12. Bayo Akinfenwa scored twice in the opening ten minutes before Kelvin Langmead put us three up before half time. Craig Stanley and Lee Brown, from the spot, made it a nervy finish but Town held on for three valuable points.

16/08/11: Bristol Rovers 2-1 Cobblers (League Two)

The Cobblers suffered their first defeat of that season at the Memorial Stadium as Jo Kuffour and Matt Harrold scored either side of a Bayo Akinfenwa strike to earn Rovers all the points at the Memorial Stadium.

10/04/09: Bristol Rovers 1-0 Cobblers (League One)

A Good Friday meeting between the clubs was settled by Jo Kuffour’s goal with twenty minutes to play in a season that would eventually see the Cobblers relegated from League One.

The man in the middle…

The official for this one is Mick Russell who last took charge of the Cobblers in the home leg of last season’s playoff semi-final against Cheltenham Town at Sixfields. His last Rovers game was a 2-0 defeat for the Gas as Chesterfield in March 2013. Russell was at the centre of controversy around a year ago after showing Sheffield Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan two yellow cards in a match against Huddersfield Town but failed to send him off.

Prediction…

Three wins in a row? Dare we dream? It’s a much more difficult game than it looks on paper with Rovers on just as good a run of form as Town. With the home crowd behind us again, though, we can do it – I’ll go for a tense 1-0 victory.

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