Northampton Town v Burton Albion
Saturday, April 12th 2014
A year ago this would have been a crunch game between two promotion chasing clubs. Since then, though, only Burton have taken last season’s form on to challenge for a place in League One again. The importance for the Cobblers is, of course, the fight against relegation this time around and with a monumentally decisive Easter double header coming up against Wycombe and Portsmouth we desperately need three points here.
The visitors come to Sixfields having kept three clean sheets in a row with back to back 1-0 home victories over Wycombe and Plymouth sandwiching a goalless draw at fellow promotion hopefuls York City. They’ve also only been beaten once in nine games and sit just three points off a place in the top three. It’s a very similar position to the one that the Cobblers found themselves in at this stage last season and we can only look in envy as we try to ensure that we get another crack at League Two in August.
The big talking point from a Cobblers point of view is the possible return of Captain Marvel Kelvin Langmead to action after eleven months on the sidelines. Langers has been the biggest absentee this season but with a couple of injury and eligibility issues at the back there’s a small chance that he will play some part after coming through seventy minutes of a behind closed doors game recently. Chris Wilder included him in the warm up last weekend at Accrington and, whilst he’ll be wary of throwing him in too soon (Hi Aidy, how’s it going?!), he’ll be more than tempted to call upon a man who may yet have a big role to play in league survival.
Whether that survival comes to fruition depends on a sterling effort from every single player from here on in though. Sixfields can be quite unforgiving at times and now we have to turn things on their heads and make it unforgiving for the opposition and not just for the players we’re entrusting with keeping our football club in the league.
The Cobblers will be missing key duo Zander Diamond and Darren Carter with Diamond ineligible to play against his parent club and Carter suspended after picking up too many bookings in recent weeks which means he also misses the key trip to Wycombe on Good Friday. The aforementioned Langmead may start on the bench with Gregor Robertson the likeliest to come in for Diamond. Ben Tozer is set to come into the midfield in place of Carter with Gary Deegan another option (kind of).
Burton have top scorer Adam McGurk back after a hip injury and Phil Edwards and Marcus Holness return to the squad following illnesses.
Previous Six Meetings…
26/12/13: Burton 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
The sides last met on Boxing Day with Ian Sharps’ header five minutes from time proving decisive in a tight contest at the Pirelli Stadium.
19/01/13: Cobblers 1-0 Burton (League Two)
In an equally close game in January 2013 it was Bayo Akinfenwa’s goal that won it for the Cobblers near the start of a long winning run at Sixfields/
29/09/12: Burton 3-3 Cobblers (League Two)
In a belter of a game at the Pirelli, Calvin Zola put the Brewers in front early on before a Kelvin Langmead own goal made it 2-0. Langmead made amends pretty quickly though by halving the deficit himself and David Artell equalised with fifteen minutes to play. There was still time for more drama, though, as Zander Diamond put the hosts back in front five minutes later and Alex Nicholls produced a stunner to finally take home a point for Town.
20/03/12: Burton 0-1 Cobblers (League Two)
In a massive six pointer at the wrong end of League Two, the Cobblers scored an injury time winner through Kelvin Langmead to move a step closer to survival at the end of the 2011/12 season.
26/12/11: Cobblers 2-3 Burton (League Two)
On Boxing Day of that season there were two goals in two minutes at Sixfields as the Cobblers took the lead through on loan striker Saido Berahino before Cleveland Taylor equalised for the visitors seconds later. Michael Jacobs put Town back in front from the spot but after John Johnson was sent off on eighteen minutes it was an uphill struggle for the Cobblers and Chris Palmer levelled things on the hour. Justin Richards would eventually seal the win for his side with a late penalty to keep us in the bottom two.
05/04/11: Burton 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)
Guillem Bauza gave the Cobblers the lead at the Pirelli Stadium but Aaron Webster equalised for the hosts just before half time.
The man in the middle…
The referee on Saturday will be Carl Berry who last took charge of the Cobblers in September 2012 for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over MK Dons at Sixfields. Later that season he officiated Burton’s 2-1 win at Aldershot and was the referee for their recent 0-0 draw at Portsmouth.
Five games to go, three points from safety. I don’t need to write any more clichés about cup finals or must wins so it’s just all about going for it, getting behind the team and, most importantly, believing. 2-1.