Match Preview: Northampton Town v Bristol Rovers

Midweek ding-dongs for both teams, injury lists as long as our arms and defensive fragilities showing up all over the place – The Cobblers and Bristol Rovers both come into Saturday’s game with question marks but also with the ability to attack it with relative mid-table security in place. For Jon Brady’s team, it’s all about bouncing back from a last-minute defeat at Leyton Orient and building on some of the positives from that night and from last weekend’s home draw with Bolton Wanderers.
 
There’s the obvious history with Rovers thanks to playoffs, final days and John-Joe O’Toole which always makes the atmosphere that little bit spicier when the two sides meet. The latest meeting sees both sides in the top half of League One but with a list of absentees that would hamper any team in the division.
 
Goals are all but guaranteed at Sixfields as the Cobblers and the Gas come together for the latest chapter of an edgy history.
 

The Opposition

The footballing community rejoiced back in October when Joey Barton was finally given his marching orders at Bristol Rovers. The one snag was that the sacking took place just days before the Cobblers’ visit and the inevitable bounce of a new voice, caretaker Andy Mangen, along with the lack of the old one led to a much-improved performance. Rovers raced into a two-goal lead in the first half and, though Manny Monthe got one back for the Cobblers in the second, gave Rovers all the points.
 
A month passed before former Exeter and Rotherham man Matt Taylor was named as the new boss at The Mem and he saw his new charges start well with three wins from four over Christmas, including beating league leaders Portsmouth. A January wobble followed, though, as injuries hit and Rovers lost four games in a row in the league either side of an FA Cup Third Round replay exit at the hands of Norwich City.
 
Form has remained inconsistent and, with Aaron Collins leaving for Bolton during the January transfer window, a long term rebuild is needed. Taylor has proven himself in the past with Exeter that he’s a good appointment for such a plan and patience will be key as Rovers look to build a post-Barton era under their new boss.
 

Last Time Out

The Cobblers were beaten 4-3 at Leyton Orient on Tuesday night while Rovers came from 2-0 down to win at Stevenage.

One To Watch

The experienced striker Chris Martin is on twelve goals for the season for the Gas, including the opener in their 2-1 win over the Cobblers in October.

Martin joined Rovers in September, signing an initial short-term deal that was extended in January. He counts Norwich City, Derby County, Bristol City and QPR among his former clubs.

Team News

The Cobblers brought new signing Liam Moore into the squad on Tuesday night and the former Derby man is available for selection again, with a possible debut this weekend. Aaron McGowan and Lee Burge were the latest additions to our injury list last weekend as they withdrew from the draw with Bolton so both will be doubts again. Sam Hoskins, Shaun McWilliams, Sam Sherring, Akin Odimayo, Tyler Magloire, Danny Hylton, Ali Koiki and Jack Sowerby are already on the injured list, though Jon Brady hinted that one or two may be able to make the bench.
 
Bristol Rovers also have a lengthy list of absentees that includes the suspended Anthony Evans and Kamil Conteh as both picked up yellow cards on Tuesday night that rule them out of the weekend. Harvey Vale has been suffering with a suspected virus but could make it to the bench. Loan signing Brandon Aguilera has a hamstring problem that rules him out while George Friend, Sam Finley, Connor Taylor, Luke McCormick, Grant Ward and Jordan Rossiter will all be out again. 
 

Line-Up Prediction

Match Officials

Adam Herczeg is in charge at Sixfields on Saturday. Herczeg last officiated the Cobblers for our 2-0 win at Doncaster Rovers in March last year. David Harrison and Damith Bandara are running the lines and Stephen Finch is fourth official.

Prediction

Every indication is for a bagful of goals in this one with two defences looking shaky and all of those injury issues on both sides. I’m going for a 3-2 Cobblers win.

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