Northampton Town v Wycombe Wanderers: Match Preview

Northampton Town v Wycombe Wanderers

League Two

Saturday, November 17th 2012

With so much drama taking place in the last seven days – Bayo’s hat-trick, extra time and penalties at Bradford and twelve goals in two games – you can forgive Cobblers fans for needing a break this weekend but it’s back to league action straight away as struggling Wycombe Wanderers come to town. It’s the first of two home games in a few days for Town and with a small unbeaten run in the league behind us it’s a chance to edge back up towards the right end of the table.

Wanderers were relegated last season and have found it tough to pick themselves up in the tough world of League Two so far. I still expect a battle, though, with new boss Gareth Ainsworth putting his own mark on the side.

Waddock out as Ainsworth takes charge…

Gary Waddock began the season still in charge of the Chairboys but paid the price after a poor start that saw his side lose six of the first eight games. Gareth Ainsworth stepped up to become player/manager and after taking Wanderers out of the drop zone as caretaker manager, he was appointed full time in the position on November 8th.

Last minute winner denies Chairboys…

Last weekend saw Rochdale come away from Adams Park with all three points thanks to a dramatic last minute winner from ‘Dale’s Bobby Grant. Ashley Grimes had given the visitors the lead but Joel Grant looked to have earned a point before his namesake clinched it. That defeat left Wycombe without a win in six games in all competitions.

 

Club Links…

Cobblers midfielder Chris Hackett spent time on loan at Wycombe from Millwall earlier in 2012, making seven appearances in League One.

Ben Harding also played for Wanderers in the first half of last season, also turning out seven times for the club before joining the Cobblers on loan.

 

Johnson…further set back

Team News…

This week we learned that John Johnson will need another operation on his knee which will keep him out until January alongside fellow defender David Artell. There is some good news for Town, though, with Chris Hackett and Bayo Akinfenwa recovering from the midweek bug that affected the squad for the cup replay at Bradford. Lee Nicholls and Jake Robinson return after being cup tied for that game whilst Ben Harding could also feature for the first time in a couple of months. Louis Moult sits out the final game of his three game ban after his sending off at York last week.

Wycombe striker Matt McClure could return after recovering from a hamstring injury and coming back into training this week. Danny Foster is another who could come back into contention after a groin injury. Gary Doherty, Matt Spring, Jo Kuffour and Anthony Stewart are all longer absentees who will definitely miss out on Saturday but the club hope they will all return to training within the next week.

 

Previous Six Meetings…

16/04/11: Wycombe 2-2 Cobblers (League Two)

An entertaining encounter at Adams Park saw Shaun Harrad give Town the lead from the penalty spot on twenty minutes before Guillem Bauza doubled the advantage. But second half goals from Scott Donnelly and Leon Johnson earned Wycombe a point en route to their eventual promotion.

28/08/11: Cobblers 1-1 Wycombe (League Two)

Andy Sandell looked like he had claimed all three points for Wanderers after netting in the first half but the Cobblers won a late penalty which was converted by Kevin Thornton to give us a share of the spoils.

01/09/09: Wycombe 2-2 Cobblers – After extra time, Cobblers win 3-0 on pens (JPT First Round)

A back and forth JPT First Round tie saw Ryan Gilligan hand Town the lead from the spot before John-Paul Pittman levelled via the same method. Steve Guinan thought he had won it when he scored four minutes from time but Pittman equalised again in stoppage time. After a goalless period of extra time, though, Wycombe contrived to miss all of their penalties in the shoot-out. The Cobblers scored all three of their kicks and headed through to Round Two.

31/01/06: Cobblers 0-0 Wycombe (League Two)

Stalemate at Sixfields as the Cobblers’ charge towards promotion is temporarily halted by a stubborn Wycombe side.

05/11/05: Wycombe 1-3 Cobblers (FA Cup First Round)

Town overcame a tough cup tie at Adams Park in a fantastic contest. Chris Doig broke the deadlock just before the hour with a well taken low shot before Martin Smith made it two a few minutes later. Scott McGleish wrapped it up with ten minutes to play by breaking through and finishing well and despite a late goal from future Cobbler Joe Burnell, we had done enough to pick up a fine victory.

02/09/05: Wycombe 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)

Tight contest in which David Hunt’s long ranger handed us the advantage. But the second began with the sending off of Cobblers defender Pedj Bojic and Wycombe earned a point through  Mike Williamson.

 

The man in the middle…

Taking charge for this one is Paul Tierney. Tierney last oversaw a Cobblers game last March in the narrow 1-0 win at Dagenham and Redbridge. He has shown 31 yellow cards and two reds in thirteen games so far this season.

 

Prediction…

With a new man in charge there’s a sense of transition around our visitors on Saturday but that could work either way. We need to be picking up points in threes at home to carry on this momentum and I think we can nick this one by the odd goal. 2-1

A new outlook for the new season

On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to attend the Olympic football in Cardiff where Mexico saw off Switzerland and Team GB battled to a hard earned win over one of the pre-tournament favourites Uruguay.

Yet its not the results of these games that will stick with me when I look back on the experience. It’s not even the fact that Roy Hodgson and Trevor Brooking took their seats just a stone’s throw away from us or the fact that Luis Suarez had a shocker of a game and didn’t help himself to endear to us Brits once again. It was the sheer atmosphere of it all that will be on my mind for a long, long time.

From the moment I stepped out of Cardiff station around lunch time I had a feeling that this was going to be something special. Usually following the Cobblers away from home I’m used to nervously checking my surroundings when stepping onto a platform but this was a joyful change. Mexicans were streaming out of the station in traditional gear, sombreros, ponchos and all, the Swiss though less in number were cooly going about their business, South Americans were boisterous as they joined the party and the Brits, well, were just proud to be hosting this party.

I had the sense that this was a once in a lifetime event and that, to be honest, makes me a little sad.

In the past I admit to being tribal in my following of the Cobblers. A mere mention of Peterborough in a pub quiz, lecture or kick around would have me twitching. Now, coming away from what was a perfect setting for football, I feel I’ve changed.

Maybe it’s starting a family, maybe it’s having more than one person to protect and having that responsibility, but I’m starting to recognise that my outlook on football is changing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as passionate as any Cobblers fan, I still get into ‘the zone’ on Saturday afternoons whether I’m at the game or not, but I’m also starting to develop a much better empathy for other supporters and teams.

The Olympic football event was what how I now see myself wanting my football experience to be like. It may be frowned upon by many people who read this but I feel a need to blog about it so I hope it makes a bit of sense!

When I say I would like to see this atmosphere in the Football League I would still draw the line at segregation on the terraces. Whilst on this occasion it was nice to mingle with other countries’ supporters there really is nothing like celebrating like crazy with your own set of fans when a big goal goes in. I couldn’t imagine the special moments of the Cobblers’ recent history like the Wembley win, promotions and Anfield being celebrated next to opposition supporters. One of the great things about a big moment like that is that you get to embrace the moment with people who are feeling exactly the same as you and that shouldn’t change.

What I’m looking for is more interaction between fans before, during and after matches. The whole deal with some clubs, Town included as far as I know, that see ‘home pubs’ and ‘away pubs’ being abolished would be a start. If you set out before a ball is kicked with an attitude of ‘us v them’ then you set yourself up badly. Who is to say that given a chance, no sets of supporters can rub shoulders with each other before games? I’ve seen it work first hand at places like Torquay, Brighton, Cheltenham and AFC Wimbledon where I’ve always felt really welcome as a visiting supporter. What we need is for more clubs to at least try it out and get behind the mutual love of this game rather than head out with a blunt ‘no’ to letting visiting fans into ‘our’ establishments. If fans from Uruguay, the UK, Switzerland and Mexico can all have a ball in one place then I see no reason why fans from Rochdale, Carlisle, Bury, Yeovil, Exeter etc, can’t do the same week in week out.

One thing that’s working for me is Twitter. As a football fan, I’ve gained more and more followers over the last two years and the strange thing with it is that I feel like I know some people pretty well simply by following them and talking to them online of a Saturday. The basic tool to talk to fans of other football clubs immediately gives you a greater empathy for them. Whereas it used to all be about teams turning up and you not knowing much about them, social media means that it’s highly likely that we know at least one fan of each club and straight away the barriers are broken down because we’re less likely to feel like having a go at their manager, team or fans. It’s not for everyone but it’s definitely working.

So how can we move forward? What I feel is needed is for us to share the feelings of joy, despair, heartache and love that comes with this game that we enjoy. We shouldn’t be afraid to be the ones to actually welcome opposition fans to our grounds, to go out of our way to talk to them rather than create mental segregations in the times when balls aren’t being kicked.

This latest chapter in my football watching life has (as you can see) left me mightily ponderous and I hope I’ve written this in a way that makes. Bit of sense and speaks to some people. I know I might be dreaming in a very hippy-like way that we can all get along, all laugh, marvel, debate and, most importantly, enjoy, the beautiful game together as fans but if one person reading this gets something from it then I’ll be happy.

Enjoy the build up to your seasons and maybe I’ll even meet some of you in the months to come!