Match Preview: Northampton Town v Burton Albion

Northampton Town v Burton Albion: League One

The Cobblers are back at Sixfields on Saturday afternoon and something needs to change from the last two dismal outings at Derby and, maybe even more worryingly, at home to Barrow in the FA Cup. As the small band of Barrow fans waved off those of a Cobblers persuasion who were trudging back up the Sixfields bank last Saturday, it was hard to not feel incredibly concerned about the season as a whole.
 
As Jon Brady mentioned, though, it was only a couple of games ago that we were lording the players for a hearty shift with ten men against Leyton Orient – a game where we were only denied three points at the very end. So there’s clearly fight and character in this dressing room and Brady’s job now is to rejuvenate their spirits in an attempt to claw our way away from the bottom four.
 
Defeat on Saturday would almost certainly drop us into the relegation zone with still well over a month and half to go until we can start looking at bringing fresh faces in. So it’s down to those here right now to dig in and pull out a result against a side looking in the other direction when it comes to the league table.
 

The Opposition

The last time the Cobblers came face to face with Burton was in Jon Brady’s first game in charge in what would become our latest relegation season from League One. Brady had to patch things together and, though it would get better eventually, his reign began with a dismal home defeat to the Brewers.

Since then, Town have gone down and back up again while Burton have provided a blueprint on how to stay in League One. Two 16th place finishes don’t tell the full story of some close scrapes with the bottom four but they’ve managed to pull themselves away from trouble eventually for the last couple of seasons.

The aim for them now is to kick on and start focusing on moving up the division rather than worrying about what’s behind them. On a light budget that’s easier said than done but manager Dino Maamria, who was elevated to the role on the departure of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink last September, has made some shrewd signings over the summer. 

The new faces include former Cobbler Bez Lubala, who seems much more settled than he was during his short spell at Sixfields, and Cole Stockton, one of the most sought after strikers in the division. Another ex Cobblers loanee in Joe Powell has been reinvented as a deep lying midfielder and makes things tick for the Brewers in a similar mould to our own Marc Leonard.

With just a point garnered from the last two league games against promoted sides, Albion fans will be hoping for a much better return when they make the trip to Sixfields on Saturday.

Last Time Out

The Cobblers were beaten 3-1 at home by Barrow last Saturday in the FA Cup First Round while Burton drew 0-0 at Port Vale, forcing a replay. They also visited Doncaster in the EFL Trophy in midweek and lost 2-1.

One To Watch

When Burton signed forward Cole Stockton in the summer, it felt like a real coup. Stockton, who hit a total of thirty eight goals over the previous two seasons for Morecambe at this level, can score all sorts of goals and combines the knack of scoring with a strong work ethic and he’s just coming back to full fitness, ominously for the Cobblers.

Stockton played eighty five minutes in midweek and could well be ready to start at Sixfields with Albion drawing 0-0 in the league and FA Cup in the last couple of games prior to that. 

Team News

The Cobblers brought Jack Sowerby and Louis Appéré back into the squad last weekend and both will be pushing to start this one while Keiron Bowie returns after a three match ban. Lee Burge missed out last weekend and will be assessed while Jon Guthrie is a doubt again. Max Dyche, Ben Fox, Tyler Magoire and Danny Hylton are long term absentees.

As mentioned above, Cole Stockton could come into the starting lineup after playing in the EFL Trophy in midweek. Albion have been without last season’s Player of the Year Sam Hughes for the last few games but he could be back in the squad on Saturday but Watford loanee Kwado Baah and defender John Brayford are unlikely to return until the end of the month.

Line-Up Prediction

Match Officials

Scott Jackson takes charge at Sixfields on Saturday. Jackson has never officiated a Cobblers game before, having predominantly been a National League referee before this season. Daniel Cook and Daniel Bonneywell are running the lines and Andrew Aylott is fourth official.

Prediction

Burton bring some good league form to Sixfields but the Cobblers should be fired up to put the last couple of weeks to bed. I’m going for what would be an important win for Jon Brady’s men. 2-1 Cobblers.

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