Seven points from seven games for the Cobblers is a reasonable start to life in League One but the upcoming fixture schedule looks a daunting one and we may start to get nervous again if we don’t start adding to the promising start.
A 1-0 defeat at Port Vale last weekend was probably the worst all round performance of the season and the Cobblers players will know that they need to be on it as a very good Barnsley side come to town on Saturday.
This is the first meeting between the sides in the league for over twenty years with the last one being Kevan Broadhurst’s final win as Cobblers boss in a 2-1 victory at Oakwell. Few could have predicted what followed with a 5-0 hammering by Wycombe spelling the end for the popular boss before Andrew Ellis brought in Terry Fenwick and all went downhill from there.
So even if we do come away with no points on Saturday, just remember: it could be a lot worse!
Since that last meeting in 2003, Barnsley have been yo-yoing between League One and the Championship with some successful and elongated spells in the second tier promising much but often being halted by bigger clubs poaching their players and managers whenever they hit a rich vein of joy.
The prime example of that was the 2021 Championship playoff run with the Tykes finishing fifth in the second season of lockdown. Valérien Ismaël had joined as manager the previous November and taken them to new heights with pressing and high octane football stunning the division into submission. A narrow defeat in the playoff semi-final to Swansea, though, was the height of their recent success as, true to form, Ismaël and key players departed that summer and they finished rock bottom the following season.
Back in League One last season, Barnsley started again under new boss Michael Duff, recruited from Cheltenham Town, with the promise of some stability and Duff took them all the way to the Playoff Final, beaten only by a Sheffield Wednesday side brimming with the absurd confidence of that two legged win over the blue lot from down the road.
Despite that, all seemed well again at Oakwell until Duff himself was nabbed by Swansea City in the summer, leaving them with yet another rebuilding job. Neil Collins was the most left field of appointments as the Scotsman joined having spent five years in charge of the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL Championship.
If there were any nerves around the place on appointing Collins, though, they were soon allied as he led them to a remarkable 7-0 opening day win over Port Vale. It’s been a mixed bag since with three wins, a draw and three defeats but this is a club still looking like they’re moving back in the right direction.
Last Time Out
The Cobblers were beaten 1-0 at Port Vale last weekend thanks to Ben Garrity’s winning goal late on. Barnsley won 2-0 at home to Burton Albion on Saturday before losing 3-2 at home to Portsmouth on Tuesday night.
One To Watch
The Cobblers welcomed back Lee Burge in goal last weekend as well as bringing Ben Fox back to the bench so both should feature again. Will Hondermarck is out for a sustained period while Ali Koiki is still missing. Danny Hylton and Tyler Magloire are the long term absentees.
Barnsley will be without Luca Connell due to illness and Robbie Cundy is still not ready to return after injury. Other than that, boss Neil Collins is looking at a fairly clean bill of health for his squad.
Benjamin Speedie is the referee for this one. Speedie was last in charge of the Cobblers for last December’s 1-1 draw at Mansfield. Daniel Robinson and Ryan Williams are running the lines and Darren Drysdale is fourth official.
The tough games keep on coming for the Cobblers. Neil Collins has Barnsley ticking well and in Devante Cole they have a striker on red hot form. I’m going for a 1-1 draw.
A Cobblers fan all his life, Danny is the most down to earth football supporter from Northampton.
While at university in Southampton, Danny kept up to date with all things NTFC from afar, sharing his thoughts on his ‘A Load Of Cobblers’ online blog.