Saturday’s game with Exeter City provides a realistic chance for the Cobblers to get back into some sort of stride after a late salvation against ten man Shrewsbury and Tuesday’s cup exit at Bournemouth. City have been under a transfer embargo during the summer which has only just been lifted and are without a win so far so on paper it’s a game we need to be looking for victory to stabilise some of the early promise we’ve shown.
But the Grecians possess one or two fine individual players (including Matt Grimes and Christy Pym who were called up to Aidy Boothroyd’s England Under 20s squad this week) and if they’re on their game and up for the fight of getting that first three points they will cause us problems, particularly if we start the game in a similar manner to the second half of last week’s draw. There’ll be no room for any complacency but the reality is that if we want to be challenging at the top end of the table then home games like this need to be won regularly.
The intriguing news on the team front this week has been Emile Sinclair’s transformation from being listed for loan last week to scoring last Saturday and putting in a good show at Bournemouth to being taken off the loan list following the striker’s rejection of a move to Cheltenham Town. Sinclair, to be fair to him, is battling for his place in the face of Ivan Toney’s emergence, Marc Richards’ decent start to his return and the new competition from the likes of David Moyo and Alex Nicholls – though the latter will be sent on loan himself next week it seems.
I would expect Danny Alfei to return to right back after shaking off his injury with Darren Carter also an option to come back into midfield. Just where Carter fits in is a big question. Joel Byrom was solid on his debut and you can’t see John-Joe O’Toole being dropped.
Exeter are likely to start with an unchanged team with Tisdale’s hand forced by a number of injuries to an already small squad. Jordan Moore-Taylor, Danny Butterfield, Tom Nichols, Jamie Reid and Christian Ribeiro are all missing at the moment so it’s set to be the same eleven that took to the field for the 1-1 draw with York City last weekend.
Despite all of that, we all know the Cobblers well enough to know that nothing’s ever that straight forward…