Northampton Town v Gillingham: Match Preview

With the relief and celebrations for the Cobblers last weekend it’s suddenly hit us that we’re down to the final home game of the season this weekend with plenty of interest to stop this one from becoming a run of the mill, end of season game.

For one, the reverse fixture at the Priestfield was one of the most dramatic involving the Cobblers from this entire campaign with Town edged out 4-3 on a day when both sides appeared to feel that defence was the best form of attack! There’s also another chance for Bayo to get one over on the club he joined for one season and also, of course, for Danny Jackman to make another Sixfields return.

Since the last meeting back in November, Gillingham have been their usual playoff bothering selves without breaking into the top seven frequently enough for their fans’ liking. They’re down to last chance saloon as they sit four points from a playoff berth with just six to play for. If they’re to have any chance at all of making it to the end of season lottery then they will have to take home maximum points on Saturday.

Aidy Boothroyd, on the other hand, will be demanding nothing less than total focus from a group of players that still might be looking to their contract situations next season and be looking to impress the boss ahead of some inevitable summer cuts.

So this should be far from a stroll for either side with Cobblers fans willing us to finish strongly and be rewarded for some fantastic support through the last nine months.

Gill's boss Andy Hessenthaler

Form…

The Cobblers stopped a rot of three successive defeats last weekend to finally secure league survival with a goalless draw at Hereford United.

Gillingham come into the game having beaten Swindon Town 3-1 at home last Saturday to keep alive their playoff hopes. Swindon were promoted despite that defeat but it should give Andy Hessenthaler’s men renewed hope having previously picked up just one win in seven.

Team News…

Aidy Boothroyd won’t be making too many changes to his side despite securing league status last weekend. A bid from Derby for Michael Jacobs was turned down this week so expect the midfielder to be right in the mix on Saturday with other scouts expected to be circling Sixfields.

Gillingham have their own wanted man in goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga. Having established himself as the Gills’ number one in February, the stopper has begun to attract attention from elsewhere. The 20-Year-Old should start again on Saturday. Meanwhile, Andy Frampton will be hoping to return from illness to play some part in the game and Chris Whelpdale will be battling to overcome a knee problem. Callum Davies remains side-lined with a hand injury.

Club Links…

One of the most controversial departures from Sixfields in recent years was that of Danny Jackman who suffered an early season ‘injury’ before signing for Gillingham and playing the day after proclaiming this problem to the Cobblers fans. Jackman had previously won the supporter’s Player of the Year award twice during a two year stay with the Cobblers.

Bayo Akinfenwa is another man who has turned out for both club after he signed for Gillingham for one year from Town before returning here last summer.

Last Six Meetings…

05/11/11: Gillingham 4-3 Cobblers

A memorable match at the Priestfield saw Jo Kuffour net a first half hat-trick for the home side to give them a seemingly insurmountable lead despite Saido Berahino scoring in between times for the Cobblers. A superb fight back from the Cobblers pulled things back to 3-3 with Kelvin Langmead and Berahino again hitting back before Bayo Akinfenwa missed a golden chance to put us in front. But it was the home side who took the glory in stoppage time when Danny Kedwell slotted in a penalty after Frank Nouble was brought down by Langmead to crush the Cobblers.

15/01/11: Gillingham 1-0 Cobblers

Cody McDonald scored the only goal in an otherwise forgettable game back in January 2011 at The Priestfield.

30/10/10: Cobblers 2-1 Gillingham

Chris Palmer gave Gillingham an early lead in the last Sixfields meeting between the two sides but Dean Beckwith levelled things before Leon McKenzie’s penalty sealed a good home win for the Cobblers.

16/02/08: Cobblers 4-0 Gillingham

Back when both sides were in League One, the Cobblers completed a league double over the Gills with a hammering thanks to a first half double from Jason Crowe and Bayo Akinfenwa and a second half which saw Bayo net again and Giles Coke complete the scoring.

19/01/08: Gillingham 0-1 Cobblers

A month before the Sixfields win, Town came home from the Priestfield with an important single goal victory after Daniel Jones’ third minute free kick turns out to be the only goal.

16/02/07: Cobblers 1-1 Gillingham

Dean McDonald thought that he’d given Gillingham an away win after he scored on the hour but with four minutes to go, Sheffield United loanee Jordan Robertson nicked the Cobblers a hard earned point.

Stroud...the man in charge

The Man In The Middle…

Keith Stroud is the man charged with keeping order on Saturday. Stroud took charge of Gillingham’s 4-3 home defeat to Crewe back in March, during which he sent off Danny Spiller, but his last Cobblers game was over a year ago in the 2-2 home draw with Rotherham United.

Prediction…

It’s the last home game of the season, there’s a party we need to poop and there should be niggling images on the players’ minds of that 4-3 defeat in November so hopefully we’ll still be up for it. There should be goals again so I’ll go for a 3-2 Cobblers win.

Crewe Alexandra v Northampton Town: Match Preview

Aidy Boothroyd comes up against the team who provided his first opposition as Cobblers boss back in December. On that day the seeds were sown for the process that has become a move away from the relegation zone and despite not being out of it yet, the Cobblers are moving in the right direction.

Three and a half months after that initial meeting with Crewe, Boothroyd comes up against them again this weekend with both sides still in need of the points. The Alex are one place and four points from the playoffs and have risen from the wrong end of the table themselves since Steve Davis took over from Dario Gradi just a month before Boothroyd’s appointment at Sixfields.

Davis is no stranger to promotions have guided Nantwich up two divisions in three seasons in his first managerial post and will be hoping to add another dramatic finale to a season to his growing repertoire…

Form…

Crewe are in superb form and haven’t been beaten in nine games whilst winning all of the last four. They haven’t conceded a goal in the last three and came away from Hereford with a single goal victory last weekend.

The Cobblers have lost just once in the last seven games to climb out of the bottom two and go five points clear of danger. Back to back clean sheets have helped that cause with the win at Burton followed by a goalless draw with Plymouth Argyle last weekend.

Tootle...missing for Alex

Team News…

Crewe have had a trio of players ruled of the game with Harry Davis (dead leg), Matt Tootle (thigh) and Max Clayton (foot) all missing out. Kelvin Mellor and Jordan Brown are set to come in after finishing last week’s game with Hereford.

The Cobblers have no new injury worries and the big news is that Bayo Akinfenwa is back to full fitness having only been able to start from the bench last weekend. Blair Adams, who was replaced by Anthony Charles against Plymouth, is also back in training and could come back in.

Previous Six Meetings…

10/12/11: Cobblers 1-1 Crewe

Bayo Akinfenwa puts the Cobblers in front in Aidy Boothroyd’s first game in charge but Byron Moore’s goal means that the new Town boss has to settle for a point. Kelvin Langmead is sent off late on.

01/02/11: Cobblers 6-2 Crewe

An extraordinary night at Sixfields sees the Cobblers hit Crewe for six with six different scorers. Shaun Harrad, Michael Jacobs, Dean Beckwith, Andy Holt, Abdul Osman and Billy McKay are on target for Town with AJ Leitch-Smith and Antoni Sarcevic replying.

01/01/11: Crewe 2-0 Cobblers

Clayton Donaldson and Shaun Miller complete a comfortable win for Crewe on New Years’ Day 2011.

20/02/10: Crewe 3-2 Cobblers

Ashley Westwood gives Crewe the lead before Ryan Gilligan and Bayo Akinfenwa turn the game on its head. Westwood levels again though and Simon Walton grabs the winner just a few minutes later.

21/11/09: Cobblers 2-2 Crewe

The Cobblers come from two goals down to earn a draw. After Clayton Donaldson and a John Johnson own goal hand Crewe the advantage, a second half brace from Bayo Akinfenwa turns it around.

24/01/09: Cobblers 5-1 Crewe

Billy Clarke’s debut is a memorable one as he scores a hat-trick to stun Crewe at Sixfields. Danny Jackman and Liam Davis net the other goals for Town with Colin Daniel replying for the visitors, who were down to ten men early on thanks to Julian Baudet’s red card.

The Man In The Middle…

The man in charge is Patrick Miller who last took charge of a Cobblers game in Ian Sampson’s last match –  a 3-2 home defeat to Burton Albion in March last year.

Prediction…

It’s never easy at Gresty Road and I don’t expect anything less tomorrow afternoon. If we can get a point against such an in form and promotion hunting side then that will be an excellent return. 1-1

Accrington Stanley v Northampton Town: Match Preview

As things begin to look more and more positive, the Cobblers go into a clash with Accrington Stanley in the rare position for this season of being in better form than the opposition. The high still being felt from Tuesday night’s morale boosting win at Dagenham and Redbridge will hopefully be hanging around the squad as we head north for the next part of Operation Survival.

Aidy Boothroyd won’t be letting anyone rest on their laurels ahead of this one and we need to put to bed some dreadful memories of the trip to the Crown Ground last season where three goals before half-time killed the Cobblers off before we’d had a chance to get going. The Boothroyd squad is a lot healthier than the Johnson squad of those times though and if we can pick up something here then momentum will still be with us for the final furlong of the season.

Form…

Accrington are on a poor run of form and sit second bottom of the League Two form table having picked up just three points from a possible eighteen available. Those three points have come in the last three games though and include good draws against Port Vale and, last weekend, away at high flying Southend United where Padraig Amond netted a stoppage time equaliser despite his side being reduced to ten men earlier in the game.

The Cobblers have won three on the bounce having beaten Bristol Rovers and Aldershot Town at home before taking all three points from Dagenham on Tuesday night.

Team News…

Accrington boss Paul Cook has completed the emergency loan signing of Scunthorpe’s Bobby Grant this week with the striker, who began his career with Stanley and made over fifty appearances for the club, agreeing an initial one month spell back at the Crown Ground. He goes straight into the squad for tomorrow’s game. But Michael Liddle, having been sent off in last weekend’s draw with Southend United, misses out through suspension.

The Cobblers’ only squad change could see new signing Anthony Charles given a place in the side after completing a deal, which keeps him at Sixfields until the end of the season, this week.

Previous Six Meetings…

06/08/11: Cobblers 0-0 Accrington

The opening day of the season saw the Cobblers, under the stewardship of Gary Johnson, held to a competitive goalless draw by Stanley at Sixfields.

02/04/11: Accrington 3-1 Cobblers

Town slipped to a worrying defeat as a first half blitz sent us closer to the relegation zone. Ian Craney struck twice in the opening half an hour before Sean McConville made it three before the break. A Michael Jacobs consolation mid-way through the second half was nowhere near enough and Stanley continued their march towards the playoffs.

14/08/10: Cobblers 0-0 Accrington

The sides met in the first league game at Sixfields last season as well with a stale mate and a frustrating afternoon for the home support following a promising win over Brighton in the Carling Cup the previous Tuesday.

09/02/10: Cobblers 4-0 Accrington

An important victory for the Cobblers, who at that point were on the way up the table in search of a late playoff surge. Bayo Akinfenwa gave us the lead and a second half brace from Billy McKay combined with a Luke Guttridge strike sealed a comfortable afternoon.

18/08/09: Accrington 0-3 Cobblers

A big win to kick start the 2009/10 season and to prolong Stuart Gray’s reign at the club. Steve Guinan netted his first for the Cobblers early on and Bayo slotted in a penalty fifteen minutes later. Billy McKay would score the first of three goals against Stanley that season to round off the victory.

25/04/61: Cobblers 2-1 Accrington

En route from promotion from Division Four, the Cobblers picked up a crucial win at the County Ground and ended up finishing in third place behind Peterborough United and Crystal Palace.

The Man In The Middle…

Michael Naylor is in charge on Saturday having previously refereed the Cobblers’ 2-1 cup upset at Ipswich Town earlier this season and Accrington’s 1-1 draw at Macclesfield in November. Naylor was officiating the 2-2 draw between Torquay and Bristol Rovers last weekend.

Prediction…

There’s renewed confidence in the Cobblers ranks these days and although it’s a tough looking trip on paper there’s no reason why we can’t extend the good run with a point here. 1-1

Dagenham and Redbridge v Northampton Town: Match Preview

The time has come for one of the biggest matches of the season with a month’s delay for the fixture only adding to the anticipation for a trip that won’t make or break the season but will have plenty of implications for the coming weeks and the relegation battle. Had we played the game at the scheduled time, we would have been looking up at the Daggers, and indeed the rest of League Two, but thanks to a resurgence of form the clubs have instead swapped places over the past month and it’s the hosts who prop up the rest and the Cobblers needing the win to put ground between us.

All’s set for a tense night with the conclusion sure to have major impact at the bottom of the Football League.

Form…

Dagenham have fallen to a couple of away defeats in the last week, falling 4-0 at league leaders Swindon before Saturday’s 2-1 reverse at AFC Wimbledon. Before that though, they were in decent form and had picked up seven points from a possible nine.

The Cobblers have collected thirteen points from the last eighteen available including back to back home wins this week. Aidy Boothroyd’s men have lost only one of their four away games in 2012, that being the 1-0 defeat at Torquay.

Team News…

The Daggers snapped up Bournemouth’s Mathieu Baudry on loan this week and the Frenchman could make his debut. John Still is meanwhile waiting on the fitness of defensive duo Scott Doe and Mark Arber with both doubts for the game. Matthew Saunders will definitely miss out as he waits on the results of an ankle scan while Sam Williams, Kevin Maher and Peter Gain are also out.

Aidy Boothroyd will be pondering the inclusion of Toni Silva after the enigmatic winger put in a solid performance on his recall to the side on Saturday afternoon. Michael Jacobs and Bayo Akinfenwa were the only concerns for that one but both came through ok and should start again. Anthony Charles might be included in the squad after completing his short term move to Sixfields on Tuesday.

Club Links…

Dagenham signed former Cobblers loanee Josh Parker on a loan deal last week. Parker, now signed up by Oldham Athletic, played three times for Town in 2010.

Injured Cobblers defender Nana has previously spent time on loan at Dagenham and scored twice in an eight game spell at Victoria Park in the 2009-10 season.

Previous Meetings…

24/09/11: Cobblers 2-1 Dagenham and Redbridge

Arron Davies returned from injury to smash the Cobblers in front in the reverse fixture at Sixfields from earlier this season before Bayo headed in for 2-0 the other side of half-time. Dagenham pulled one back through Oliver Lee but we held on for a first home win of the season.

06/02/10: Dagenham and Redbridge 0-1 Cobblers

John Johnson’s goal turned out to be the winner in February 2010 in the Cobblers’ first competitive game at Victoria Road.

26/12/09: Cobblers 1-0 Dagenham and Redbridge

The first ever meeting between the two sides took place at Sixfields on Boxing Day 2009 with the Cobblers coming out on top by a single goal, scored by Billy McKay with just two minutes to go.

The Man In The Middle…

The man in charge on Tuesday night will be Paul Tierney, who has been officiating Championship and League One games in the past couple of weeks. You might remember him for sending John Johnson off at Oxford last season or for showing red to two Stevenage players on the day that we secured our Football League status at the end of last season.

Prediction…

It’s a massive contest and one that I’d like to see us go all out and attack but I can see it being quite cagey and based on the last couple of results wouldn’t be completely disappointed with a point. I’ll go for 1-1.

Northampton Town v Aldershot Town: Match Preview

When Ashley Westwood steered in the only goal of the game down at Aldershot in August there wasn’t a concern in the world. It was a second win in a week following an impressive Carling Cup victory at Ipswich and sustained a mini unbeaten run that kicked off this season. So who could possibly have predicted where we would end up come the next meeting that takes place tomorrow afternoon?!

Westwood is now in charge of troubled neighbours Kettering Town, Gary Johnson has thankfully departed after that glimmer of a decent start to his season and the Cobblers are slowly having to pick up the pieces. Aidy Boothroyd finally has a first eleven that is mainly his own now though and, whisper it quietly, has started to help us turn the corner in the tightest of relegation battles.

Aldershot had a funny old season in the mid-table cluster that we would so love to call our own. A dreadful Christmas and New Year run without scoring for six games has the Shots looking over their own shoulders but suddenly they hit back with six wins on the bounce – a run that was ended by the narrowest of margins at Torquay United on Tuesday night. Dean Holdsworth’s men are still only nine points from the playoff places though and may have one eye on a late assault on the end of season lottery. That makes this one another tough game for the Cobblers and for Aidy Boothroyd’s attempt at the Great Escape…

Form…

The Cobblers have now taken ten points from a possible fifteen since the start of February and have moved off the bottom of League Two thanks to a 3-2 home win over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night. After letting slip a two goal lead at Cheltenham last weekend, it so nearly happened again but thankfully a three goal cushion was just enough to earn a huge three points.

Aldershot were on a fine run of six wins in a row until Tuesday when they were edged out by Torquay but will take their place in the top ten this afternoon when Port Vale are docked ten points for entering administration.

Team News…

Both Bayo Akinfenwa and Michael Jacobs look to have shaken off knocks picked up on Tuesday night so it once again looks like Boothroyd can name an unchanged side – something that’s got to help the continuity of a team growing in confidence by the week. Meanwhile, the Cobblers boss is set to play Luke Guttridge despite the midfielder holding a reported ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Shots boss Dean Holdsworth that he would not face them again this season on departing the EBB Stadium in January. Boothroyd says that he will fine the player if he refuses to play so there could be some tension  in the dug outs tomorrow, particularly if Guttridge plays and scores!

Aldershot have extended the loan spell of Hull City defender Sonny Bradley into a third month so he will be available for selection once more. But keeper Ross Worner has been ruled out for the season with a back injury.

Club Links…

Cobblers forward Jake Robinson spent two periods of his career on loan at Aldershot, in the 2004-05 season and again in 2009, scoring eight times in the two spells.

Luke Guttridge signed for Town from Aldershot back in January after a year and a half with the club whom he joined from the Cobblers in 2010.

Fellow midfielder Ben Harding played 143 times for the Shots between 2007 and 2011. He would sign for Wycombe in 2011 but limited chances there saw him sign for the Cobblers early this year.

Previous Six Meetings…

13/08/11: Aldershot 0-1 Cobblers

In the first away day of this season, the Cobblers came away with the win thanks to an early Ashley Westwood goal.

19/02/11: Cobblers 1-1 Aldershot

This was the fourth in the Cobblers’ six game drawing sequence last season with Ben Tozer opening the scoring early on. Peter Vincenti would earn a point for the Shots before Shaun Harrad was sent off with eight minutes to play.

04/09/10: Aldershot 1-1 Cobblers

An injury time leveller from Ben Harding breaks down the Cobblers after Billy McKay’s neatly taken goal in the first half looked to have given us all three points.

12/02/10: Cobblers 0-3 Aldershot

In one of his first appearances for the club, Kevin Thornton is sent off after just eleven minutes. From the resulting free kick, Marvin Morgan put the visitors in front and would go on to claim a second after Kirk Hudson had extended their lead in the second half.

24/11/09: Aldershot 2-1 Cobblers

Luke Guttridge, now an Aldershot player, puts the Cobblers into the lead on a cold Tuesday night at the EBB Stadium. But a real collapse late on sees the hosts completely turn it around thanks to a Scott Donnelly penalty and a Marvin Morgan winner in the last minute of the game.

26/01/91: Cobblers 2-1 Aldershot

En route to a tenth place finish in Division Four that year, the Shots were beaten at the County Ground and only survived relegation because of the expansion in the Football League that season meaning that their finishing place of second bottom of the table didn’t lead to them dropping out of the league.

The Man In The Middle…

The man in charge at Sixfields will be Andy Haines. The last five games he has officiated have all ended 1-1 with his last game in charge of the Cobblers coming in a 1-0 defeat at Rochdale that earned the Spotland club promotion in 2010.

Prediction…

Things are starting to look up again and that always concerns me when it comes to predictions! I’d like to be able to sit on the fence but I’ll give it the old kiss of death and go for a 2-1 home win!