York City v Northampton Town
Saturday, August 15th 2014
If the Cobblers are to complete what would be one of the best opening weeks of a season in recent memory by beating Saturday’s hosts York City then we’re going to have to pull something pretty special out of the bag. The Minstermen haven’t lost a regular league fixture since a 2-0 defeat at home to Chesterfield on January 28th with only the playoff semi-final reverse against eventual winners Fleetwood Town and Tuesday’s cup loss against Doncaster Rovers blotting the copybook of a remarkable run of results that took them from relegation candidates to within a game of Wembley last season.
City’s story so nearly had a happy ending but for that Fleetwood defeat in the first leg of the semis but Nigel Worthington’s men have reacted well in the summer to that set back and to key defender Lanre Oyebanjo joining Crawley Town. Worthington has brought in Marvin McCoy who racked up over ninety appearances for Wycombe Wanderers over four years as a replacement for Oyebanjo whilst also strengthening across the squad with Barnet’s Jake Hyde and Southend’s Anthony Straker coming in as well as the likes of Femi Ilesanmi from Dagenham and Redbridge, Luke Summerfield and Dave Winfield both from Shrewsbury Town and Jason Mooney from Tranmere Rovers.
The first two games of York’s season have both been all about last minute goals. On the opening day last weekend they were moments away from an impressive three points at Tranmere until James Rowe’s volley recused a point for the League Two newbies. Then, on Tuesday night in the Capital One Cup, League One’s Doncaster Rovers left it until stoppage time to nick a winner at Bootham Crescent.
It’s back in the league that York are so hard to stop, though, and as they prepare to try and repeat last season’s 1-0 win over the Cobblers on the opening day of the season (which came about thanks to their own last gasp winner following Darren Carter’s red card), Town will be hoping to round off what’s been a really positive first seven days of 2014/15.
Team work and inspired substitutions have been the order of the day so far from Chris Wilder and both will be called upon again once more at a ground where the Cobblers have won just once in their last eight visits, that being a 1-0 success on Bank Holiday Monday in August 1999.
There’s plenty of battles for places in the starting line-up for Wilder to consider. Chris Hackett, Darren Carter and Emile Sinclair all look to be over the injuries that kept them out of the Wolves game while Lawson D’Ath’s brace at Molineux after coming off the bench will have given his boss food for thought. There’s also the issue of whether Ivan Toney keeps his place after a strong cameo against Mansfield and a solid showing and goal at Wolves with Marc Richards and John-Joe O’Toole also vying for position.
All very good problems to have though, especially considering that York have one or two injury worries up front. Striker Ryan Jarvis will be out for up to three weeks after coming off against Doncaster on a stretcher thanks to an ankle injury and he’s added to a list that contains Josh Carson on the absent list. The good news for the Minstermen is that Wes Fletcher has completed two weeks of training and could feature and Jake Hyde could also make his debut. Sixteen year old Ben Hirst is also chomping at the bit for a starting place and could get the nod to partner Michael Coulson up front should Fletcher and Hyde not be available from the start.
Plenty to ponder, then, for both managers ahead as the season kicks well and truly into gear. If the Cobblers can end this long unbeaten streak then it’ll have been the perfect start to a long season.