Tuesday, August 21st 2012
It’s straight back to Tuesday night action this evening as the season really kicks into gear with the first home league match of the campaign. It comes against the pre-season title favourites Rotherham United, led by the much maligned Steve Evans and boasting a strong squad of new comers to go alongside their already decent group that ended last season with a 1-1 home draw with Town at the Don Valley Stadium.
New York, New York…
The Millers began their new lives at the New York Stadium with a comfortable 3-0 win over ten man Burton Albion on Saturday afternoon, signalling their immediate intent for the coming campaign. Daniel Nardiello (with a penalty) and Kayode Odejayi had good starts to their Rotherham careers by scoring the first two goals at the new stadium against a Brewers’ side who had Lee Bell sent off for two yellow cards in the second half. Ben Pringle’s deflected cross sealed a fine start to the season for his side and they will be full of confidence going into this evening. They also took Championship side Hull City all the way to penalties at the KC Stadium in the League Cup a few days earlier.
The pantomime villain of League Two…
Steve Evans should provide his usual brand of ‘enthusiasm’ to proceedings at Sixfields tonight after he joined the Millers towards the end of last season. His outspoken and angry nature has upset even the mildest heart of a League Two fan over the last year or so having brought Crawley Town into the league and proceeded to get under everyone’s skin. He’s not even many Rotherham fan’s cups of tea but if promotion is won I’m sure none of them will argue!
The Cobblers look likely to keep the same team that secured an opening day 0-0 draw at Rochdale with latest signing Lewis Moult set to make the bench once again. Luke Guttridge was withdrawn after an hour at Spotland but is OK to take his place in the starting eleven again.
Rotherham expect vice-captain Johnny Mullins to be fit in time to face the Cobblers after he was forced off at half-time during the Millers’ 3-0 win over Burton at the weekend. Boss Steve Evans was boosted by the return of Lawrie Wilson and Gareth Evans in that game and both should make the squad again. But Nicky Hunt, despite making a quicker recovery than was initially expected, does miss out alongside fellow right back Dale Tongue.
New Cobblers left-back Joe Widdowson spent time on loan with Rotherham from first club West Ham United back in 2008, playing three times for the Millers.
Another new recruit, David Artell, began his career with the side he comes up against this evening, scoring four times in thirty seven games during a five year spell at the club.
Last Six Meetings…
05/05/12: Rotherham 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)
The final day of last season saw the Cobblers travel to the Don Valley Stadium with the Millers playing their final game at the athletics arena before moving to the New York Stadium for the start of this term. Alex Revell set them up for a fond farewell with a first half goal but Bayo Akinfenwa had other ideas and notched his eighteenth goal of a strong campaign to earn a point for Town.
29/10/11: Cobblers 1-1 Rotherham (League Two)
Gary Johnson’s final home game in charge of the Cobblers saw Gareth Evan’s second minute strike cancelled out by a Conrad Logan own goal mid-way through the first half.
22/04/11: Cobblers 2-2 Rotherham (League Two)
The infamous celebrations that followed a Cobblers recovery from 2-0 down on Good Friday two seasons ago has been etched into memory more than the game itself. After Leon McKenzie and Liam Davis had cancelled out a Paul Rodgers own goal and a Ryan Taylor effort, Cobblers fan Derry Felton invaded the pitch in his wheelchair to create a moment of humour in last season’s relegation battle!
23/11/10: Rotherham 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)
The Cobblers had already come back from two down against Rotherham earlier in the season as well. Having gone behind to Ryan Taylor and Marcus Marshall goals, Abdul Osman and Andy Holt replied within minutes and the half-time score of 2-2 remained until the end.
13/04/10: Rotherham 1-0 Cobblers (League Two)
Red cards everywhere in this one as Adam Le Fondre’s goal settled a promotion battle at the Don Valley Stadium. Ryan Gilligan had already missed a penalty when Craig Hinton conceded a spot kick of our own that Le Fondre scored from and Hinton was shown his marching orders for the challenge. Luke Guttridge and Danny Harrison were also sent off later in the game meaning that we ended with nine men and Rotherham finished with ten.
29/09/09: Cobblers 3-1 Rotherham (League Two)
Ryan Gilligan and Courtney Herbert had the Cobblers in control in this Tuesday night encounter before Ian Sharps’ own goal made it 3-0. Adam Le Fondre’s penalty was only a consolation on this occasion.
The Man in the Middle…
This gives me shivers whenever I write it but the man trying to keep order will be Trevor ‘the whistling’ Kettle. Whenever a ref’s reputation goes before him there’s bound to be trouble and Kettle is becoming one of the stand out villains of the Football League referee list. Kettle took charge of Rotherham’s 2-1 defeat at Oxford in March and last oversaw a Cobblers game in a 1-0 defeat at Gillingham in January 2011.
This should be a tasty one with the ingredients of Evans, Boothroyd and Kettle in one stadium as well as it being the first home game of the season against title favourites. I’ll go for a hectic 3-3 draw! (Watch it be 0-0 now!)