Cobblers end Stanley run to move off the bottom

Dallas...fourth Cobblers goal

Dallas…fourth Cobblers goal

Northampton Town 1-0 Accrington Stanley

League Two

Saturday, November 30th 2013

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t spectacular…it was simply what was needed as the Cobblers brought to an end Accrington’s run of form that had seen them go eight games undefeated before heading to Sixfields. Izale McLeod could, and should, have made it a more comfortable afternoon for Town fans but his debut included a missed penalty and a scuffed shot that hit the bar.

It was, though, a big result and McLeod can look back on his day as a decent start to his run in a Cobblers shirt. Perhaps more important was the stand out performance of a certain Clive Platt who returned to the starting line up looking to re start the partnership with McLeod that was so successful at MK Dons all those years ago. The fact that more people were talking about Platt come full time says a lot about the man’s presence and determination to battle against three loan forwards for a permanent starting berth.

Platt was involved in the only goal of the game, sending in Danny Emerton before the winger laid it off to Stuart Dallas who converted for his fourth goal in Cobblers colours. Dallas is beginning to look just as good a signing as fellow Brentford man Luke Norris and it’s a decent return for a winger after a couple of months here.

Town’s dubious penalty – after McLeod went down under a challenge a bit too easily for some – didn’t bear fruit as the new man picked himself up to tamely pass the ball into the hands of Accrington keeper Marcus Bettinelli. Referee Mr Phillips made amends for the visitors by failing to give a spot kick in the second half on McLeod again in an incident that appeared cleaner cut than the original decision.

The Cobblers were as comfortable as they could be at 1-0 with McLeod going close again from a Platt lay off in a bid to kill off the game but the tide began to turn with around ten minutes to go. Stanley should have been level when Peter Murphy missed a sitter from only a few yards out and that was their big chance to extend their unbeaten run.

Town battled for a third clean sheet in four, though, and rose from the bottom of the table with a big three points. Seven points from these last four games is a good return with the form that had come before and we now go into the FA Cup Second Round tie at Grimsby Town looking more solid than we did ahead of the First Round clash at Bishop’s Stortford.

Ricky Ravenhill put in another dogged display in midfield and it’s no coincidence that since his arrival we’ve seen our form slowly improve. A deal to bring him in permanently would be the best Christmas present that Aidy Boothroyd could wish for at this point. The clean sheet again is a positive, especially with the Kelvin Langmead news this week, and Kevin Amankwaah’s presence again at right back is important to have back.

Today’s opponents have shown how much impact a run of form can have and we’re getting to a point where, though we’ll have the occasional slip up, we’re starting to pick up points again. These 1-0 home wins are what formed the backbone of last season’s playoff push and if we can get back to dragging the results out of the bag like we’ve done twice in the last few days then we’ll give ourselves a chance of moving back towards mid-table.

FA Cup progress and that potential ‘mouth-watering tie’ would be a nice little bonus to this upward momentum. Bring on the Fishy people!

Northampton Town v Accrington Stanley: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Accrington Stanley

League Two

Saturday, November 30th 2013

There needs to be no fancy introduction for this one…Accrington, eight games unbeaten and flying after a rejuvenation in recent weeks, come to Sixfields for what is our biggest game of the season by some way. It’s not just the fact that Stanley are still in touching distance from us but that they are looked at as beatable despite that recent form.

The Cobblers simply have to win this one and I don’t think it’s showing any disrespect to Accrington to say that. They are where they are because of a run of results that we can only be envious of but we have to be going all out to break them down and bring them back into the pack. Anything less than three points will bring great scrutiny from three sides of Sixfields and the good work of Tuesday night’s point at Chesterfield would be undone.

There’s a new front man to bolster the forward line (how many times have I said that this season?!) with Izale McLeod coming in this week and we’ve got to hope that he is ready to do the business from the off.

It’s must win – pressure in itself – but the collection of three points here would be ginormous, such are the thin lines we’re playing with. Nerves at the ready…

McLeod...set for Cobblers debut

McLeod…set for Cobblers debut

Team News…

Izale McLeod is set for his debut after signing on Thursday but Kane Ferdinand was recalled by Peterborough on the same day, leaving an opening in central midfield. Ben Tozer was bizarrely loaned to Colchester United so it could give Gary Deegan or Darren Carter a second chance in the middle of the park. Kelvin Langmead suffered yet another setback this week and could be out until March with Lewis Hornby and Alex Nicholls still on the long term injury list. Chris Hackett is suspended so Stuart Dallas or Danny Emerton may take his place on the right hand side.

Accrington manager James Beattie has Nicky Hunt back in contention after he served a one match suspension on Tuesday night whilst Laurence Wilson is also back. Rob Atkinson is nearing full fitness following a layoff with a hamstring injury but Andrew Dawber will be missing for up to a month after undergoing minor groin surgery. Lee Naylor is ready to return but faces competition from Michael Liddle who has done well in the last couple of games.

Previous Six Meetings…

09/03/13: Cobblers 2-0 Accrington (League Two)

Chris Hackett and Roy O’ Donovan struck in the first half of last season’s Sixfields encounter with the Cobblers recording an important victory on the road to the playoffs.

10/11/12: Accrington 2-4 Cobblers (League Two)

Bayo Akinfenwa hit a stunning hat-trick including a memorable diving header to earn a big three points for the Cobblers at the Crown Ground. The big man had given us the lead early on before George Miller and Romy Boco turned the game in the home side’s favour. But substitute Jake Robinson equalised before Bayo took centre stage to score the two goals that won it for Town.

17/03/12: Accrington 2-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Jamie Devitt put Stanley in front just before half-time before loan striker Brett Williams looked to have earned us a point. But Craig Linfield popped up with three minutes to go to win the game for the hosts as the Cobblers battled relegation at the end of last season.

06/08/11: Cobblers 0-0 Accrington (League Two)

The opening day of the 2011/12 season saw the sides cancel each other out on a frustrating afternoon. Jake Robinson went closest for Town with a turn and shot that was cleared off the line in the first half.

02/04/11: Accrington 3-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Accrington took a three goal lead into half-time through Ian Craney’s double strike and Sean McConville. Michael Jacob’s second half goal wasn’t enough to prevent a big defeat at the Crown Ground.

14/08/10: Cobblers 0-0 Accrington (League Two)

In the first home game of the 2010/11 season, there was a similar outcome to that of the start of the next season with a 0-0 draw kicking off the League Two Sixfields campaign.

The man in the middle…

Taking this one is David Phillips¸ who was last the referee for a Cobblers game in the 1-0 home win over Plymouth Argyle back in February. He’s shown forty yellow cards and four reds so far this season in ten games.

Prediction…

I’ve got to go with a Cobblers win here, if only to keep my own sanity and belief. We could do with an early goal to settle the nerves and if we do that I think we’ll win. 2-1

Northampton Town v Accrington Stanley: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Accrington Stanley

League Two

Saturday, March 9th 2013

The Cobblers laid down a huge marker for this season back in November when Bayo Akinfenwa scored a glorious hat-trick in a 4-2 win up at the Crown Ground to secure only a second away win of the season. As the sides prepare to meet again, Town will need to protect the fortress against a Stanley side fighting for their lives at the wrong end of League Two.

Results for them have picked up slightly of late but they are still just a point above the drop zone and with every point so precious to both sides coming into the Sixfields clash it should be another tight afternoon with the final furlong of the season approaching.

Town looking to extend Sixfields run…

The Cobblers have extended their winning home run to seven straight games recently with triumphs over Plymouth Argyle and Bristol Rovers and will be happy to be back on familiar ground after last weekend’s 3-0 hammering at Exeter. Stanley are coming into the game off the back of five points from three games collected from home draws with Cheltenham and Torquay and a thumping 3-0 win at Rochdale ten days ago.

Beattie aiming to help Stanley to safety…

35-Year-Old former Southampton, Everton and Rangers striker James Beattie has scored five goals in fourteen appearances since joining Accrington in November in a player-coach role. Beattie notched two in the recent 2-2 draw with Cheltenham Town and will be looking to add more to his tally at Sixfields.

 

Moult...has played for both sides

Moult…has played for both sides

Club Links…

Accrington keeper Paul Rachubka was briefly with the Cobblers back in 2004, making ten appearances whilst on loan from Charlton Athletic.

Defender Mark Hughes was a popular figure at Sixfields during his two year spell between 2007 and 2009. Hughes played over ninety times for Town and scored four times.

Cobblers on loan stopper Lee Nicholls played nine times for Accrington last season, making his debut against Swindon Town last February.

Striker Louis Moult, currently on loan at Nuneaton from the Cobblers, played four times for Stanley in 2011 whilst on loan from Stoke City.

 

Team News…

Chris Hackett could return for the Cobblers after being left out of last Saturday’s defeat at Exeter. Apart from Alex Nicholls’ long term injury there are no major concerns for Aidy Boothroyd.

Accrington have, according to reports, today signed Francis Jeffers on a short term deal meaning that we could be facing a former England strike force of Jeffers and Beattie tomorrow afternoon! Elsewhere goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin and striker Padraig Amond are missing while former Cobbler Mark Hughes could be out for the season.

 

Previous Six Meetings…

10/11/12: Accrington 2-4 Cobblers (League Two)

Bayo Akinfenwa hit a stunning hat-trick including a memorable diving header to earn a big three points for the Cobblers at the Crown Ground. The big man had given us the lead early on before George Miller and Romy Boco turned the game in the home side’s favour. But substitute Jake Robinson equalised before Bayo took centre stage to score the two goals that won it for Town.

17/03/12: Accrington 2-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Jamie Devitt put Stanley in front just before half-time before loan striker Brett Williams looked to have earned us a point. But Craig Linfield popped up with three minutes to go to win the game for the hosts as the Cobblers battled relegation at the end of last season.

06/08/11: Cobblers 0-0 Accrington (League Two)

The opening day of the 2011/12 season saw the sides cancel each other out on a frustrating afternoon. Jake Robinson went closest for Town with a turn and shot that was cleared off the line in the first half.

02/04/11: Accrington 3-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Accrington took a three goal lead into half-time through Ian Craney’s double strike and Sean McConville. Michael Jacob’s second half goal wasn’t enough to prevent a big defeat at the Crown Ground.

14/08/10: Cobblers 0-0 Accrington (League Two)

In the first home game of the 2010/11 season, there was a similar outcome to that of the start of the next season with a 0-0 draw kicking off the League Two Sixfields campaign.

09/02/10: Cobblers 4-0 Accrington (League Two)

A comfortable afternoon at Sixfields saw Town run out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Bayo Akinfenwa, Billy McKay (2) and Luke Guttridge.

The man in the middle…

Stuart Attwell takes charge on Saturday afternoon at Sixfields. Atwell was the official for the Cobblers’ recent 3-0 reverse at Chesterfield and was refereeing in the Premier League as recently as last season before being demoted in February of last year. He has shown 94 yellow cards and 2 reds so far this season.

 

Prediction…

With seven wins in a row at home under our belt this is, on paper, a chance to make it eight but I fear that eventually we’re going to be hit by a surprise result at Sixfields. I hope it’s not this one but Stanley are improving and will be battling hard so this could be the day the run of wins ends. 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