It’s another one of those that falls into the ‘more in hope than expectation’ category on Tuesday night as the Cobblers travel to the Broadfield Stadium for the first time in our history. The only other time we have played an away game in Crawley was in an FA Cup tie in 1991 that took place in the Red Devil’s old Town Mead ground. Back then of course they were a non-league outfit (and typically dumped the Cobblers out of the cup) and plenty has changed in the twenty years since.
Crawley were hot favourites for the League Two title but after a slight mid-season wobble they will be delighted with a top three finish, particularly after the recent departure of manager Steve Evans to Rotherham United and rumours that their financial backing could be close to ending. Whatever happens off the pitch, they can go back into those top three places with a victory against the Cobblers so that will ensure we’re in for a tough time of things.
Crawley have drawn three of their last four games with the latest coming on Saturday as AFC Wimbledon came away from the Broadhall Stadium with a 1-1 draw. After defender Hope Akpan was sent off early on, the Wombles looked to be taking all three points home when Sammy Moore netted but Gary Alexander rescued a point with ten minutes to play.
The Cobblers need two more points to ensure safety after back to back defeats halted a good run of form. Following a 1-0 reverse at Swindon on Bank Holiday Monday, Town fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Bradford City on Saturday.
Crawley’s Hope Akpan will serve the first of a four game suspension that keeps him out for the rest of the league season after he picked up his second red card of the season on Saturday. Sergio Torres and Pablo Mills are also still missing through suspension but Claude Davis and Kyle McFadzean return from bans.
The Cobblers will give a late fitness test to Ben Harding who missed the weekend defeat to Bradford with an ankle injury. Apart from that, though, there’s no new problems to deal with in terms of injury or suspension.
Billy Clarke played five times for the Cobblers on loan from Ipswich Town in 2009, scoring all three of his Town goals on his debut in a 5-1 drubbing of Crewe.
Midfielder David Hunt is another ex-Cobbler having spent three years at Sixfields including being involved in the successful 2006 promotion winning side.
Strike Karl Hawley was previously on loan with the Cobblers and scored twice in eleven appearances back in the 2008/09 season.
08/10/11: Cobblers 0-1 Crawley
The first ever league meeting between the sides was broadcast live on Sky Sports and Crawley took home the points thanks to a Matt Tubbs strike mid-way through the first half.
16/11/91: Crawley 4-2 Cobblers (FA Cup First Round)
En route to what was, at the time, their best ever cup run, Crawley shocked the Cobblers by winning this First Round FA Cup tie at their old Town Mead ground. The Red Devils went on the reach the Third Round where they were eventually beaten by neighbours Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Man In The Middle…
Christopher Sarginson takes charge of his first Cobblers game since a goalless draw at Barnet in late 2009, during which he sent off the Bees’ Dean Sinclair.
If we can pick up anything from this then I’ll be well happy. Crawley will be desperate to get back into the top three but I can see Aidy getting us a bit wound up after a poor show on Saturday. I’ll have an ambitious point…1-1.