Impish start for Cobblers!

So it is indeed a home game for the Cobblers at the start of the 2018/19 season and what could possibly say “Welcome back to League Two” more than a visit from our old sparring buddies Lincoln City?! The Imps will bring good form from an excellent first season back in the Football League last term after they finished seventh in League Two and won the EFL Trophy. Despite losing in the playoff semi-finals to Exeter City they’ll be confident of pushing on again under the highly rated Danny Cowley.

The first month seems especially testing for Town with long haul trips to Carlisle and Morecambe as well as away games with Wycombe in the League Cup and Colchester in the league meaning that the mettle of Dean Austin’s men will be examined well in the early weeks.

Other games that jump out straight away are the games against Gary Johnson’s Cheltenham Town, as discussed yesterday, on September 8 (home) and March 23 away) as well as the clashes with MK Dons on October 20 (away) and December 29 (home). The first game of 2019 will see us visit Forest Green Rovers with the game earlier in the season (October 13) at Sixfields being the first ever league meeting between the sides – the only other clash between us came in a 3-0 win for the Cobblers in the FA Cup back in 2010.

Easter comes late in the season this time around with a double header against Macclesfield Town (home) and Bury (away) likely to be pivotal with only two league games left after that, at home to Yeovil Town and away at Oldham. It’s the reverse fixture of the final game of last season for us with that jaunt up to Boundary Park to close out the season.

So there it is and here is the full fixture list for your perusal. Let planning commence!

It’s fixtures time! So who are the ideal opposition for opening day?

We interrupt your World Cup shenanigans because…it’s that time again…rejoice, it’s fixtures day tomorrow! What better way to plan for the 2018/19 season then to spend hours pontificating to your work mate (who really couldn’t care less) about the perils of Oldham away on a Tuesday night in December?!

Of course with the small distraction of events in Russia, this year’s fixtures release has snuck up on us like a Shaun McWilliams tackle but all the better for it as the Cobblers prepare to learn the dates of key clashes in their bid to make a swift return to League One. So who should we be looking for as an ideal first opponent come the big kick off and who would provide the tougher assignments for Dean Austin’s first full hunting season?

The obvious choices to avoid are the teams just relegated with us from League One so that counts out Oldham Atheltic, Bury and MK Dons. We also want to dodge the two teams coming up – momentum will still be very much with both Tranmere Rovers and Conference National winners Macclesfield Town. You’d want to kick things off at home so that eliminates some testing long haul opening days at the likes of Carlisle United and Exeter City.

Those with a ‘new manager bounce’ should also be avoided so the aforementioned Exeter, Carlisle, MK Dons, Oldham and Macclesfield should, in theory at least, be better left to a mid-season encounter.

Now let’s take out the teams in the best form towards the end of last season that are left in the division – Crewe Alexandra and Grimsby Town both finished the campaign with three consecutive wins while Cambridge United and Notts County also finished well.

That leaves us with eleven possibilities so to narrow it down more we’ll discard Mansfield Town, Lincoln City, Swindon Town and Colchester United who haven’t been taken out already but are within the front runners with the bookies.

We’re looking for an opposition who will cause a bit of a stir by coming to Sixfields on the opening day but who also ended last season in poor form and who are down the list in the betting and any list of expectant title or promotion winners. There is, then, having taken all of the above into consideration, only one standout opponent and that is Cheltenham Town.

Gary Johnson left Sixfields under a mighty cloud having done next to nothing with the club, alienating fans and upsetting the majority of the fan base, and his Robins side ended the season with four straight defeats to leave them with an uncertain summer. Fans are divided as to whether they believe Johnson is the man to take them forward and what better way to kick off our return to League Two then to ‘welcome’ Johnson back to Sixfields and then send him on his merry way pointless?

When Carlisle away comes out tomorrow morning (9am fixtures announcement!) don’t blame me but we can only hope that things fall a little more invitingly.

It’s the first milestone of the summer in the Football League…bring it on!

Stag day to kick off the season!

league-2-sky-bet1

Get those planners out…book those hotels…the fixtures are out! And it’s not worked out too bad for the Cobblers (on paper anyway) with home games to start AND finish the season. Town will host Mansfield Town for the big kick off on Saturday, August 9th and will finish with the visit of Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday, May 2nd.

If I were to publish all of the fixtures then I’d be banned from the Internet by someone in a higher power but what I think I’m allowed to do, as is the norm, is run through some key dates and give you the link to the full fixtures list which you’ve probably already dissected yourselves already:

http://t.co/dtIvXgbQpk

The start to the season has us travelling to Wolves in the League Cup on the first Tuesday night and then making jaunts to York City (Sat 16th August) and Portsmouth (Tuesday 19th) before closing out the first month with home games against Shrewsbury Town (Saturday 23rd) and Exeter City (Saturday 30th).

Other stand out fixtures on first glance see Town remaking the acquaintance with Luton Town by visiting the lovely Kenilworth Road on Saturday, October 25th and Cambridge United who we play away three weeks later on Saturday, November 15th. We’ve been given a nice Boxing Day home game with Bury (who won’t be very happy with that journey I assume!) but away games at Carlisle and Tranmere in December will tighten everyone’s purse strings in the holiday season.

There’s a local feel to the end of the season with the home games with Luton (Saturday, March 28th) and Cambridge (Easter Monday, April 6th) and the trip to Oxford (Tuesday, April 14th) all coming within a couple of weeks of one another. The final away game is Burton Albion on Saturday, April 25th.

It’s always a fun day on the summer calendar is fixtures day…let’s get planning (and tie up those last few deals!)

In Other news…

The Cobblers, as mentioned above, were once again drawn against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the League Cup. It’s the third time in four seasons we’ve met Wolves but at least this time we can be knocked out away from home rather than at Sixfields. Saying that, Clive Platt scored in one of the last meetings between the sides, so anything can happen. It’s just that it probably won’t.

Connor Roberts made it four out of four contract offers to be accepted yesterday by agreeing terms on his first professional deal. I can’t remember a time when all contract offers to players we want to hold on to were accepted over the summer so this is good news for Chris Wilder’s school of persuasion.

David Cardoza has revealed in an interview that we have three transfer deals already tied up – he just can’t tell us about them yet. Evan Horwood, the marauding left back/winger who helped us to safety last season, is widely touted to be one of those – that’s been the worst kept secret since the season ended so expect that to be confirmed soon.