Match Preview: Northampton Town v Carlisle United

Northampton Town v Carlisle United

With four games to go, the Cobblers are safe from any relegation fears and the attention now turns to solidifying a top half spot in League One. If we can finish in any of those top twelve places it would be a fantastic return and hopefully that’s enough motivation for a period where we’ll have major parts to play in the relegation battle despite not being involved ourselves.
 
Carlisle come to Sixfields knowing that defeat for them or a win for Burton Albion at home to Oxford United would confirm their demotion back to League Two. The fate that will inevitably befall the Cumbrians should at least make us reflect on our own season and celebrate the fact that we’re nowhere near being involved in the scrap ourselves having won promotion alongside our opponents last May.
 
The final stretch for Jon Brady’s side may not be filled with the usual drama but our performances against Carlisle, Fleetwood and Barnsley in particular will have lasting impact on the relegation and promotion races so there’s plenty to draw the interest as the end appears in sight.
 

The Opposition

After a surprise win in last season’s League Two playoffs, Carlisle struggled to adapt to the next level. With almost a month less than others to get a squad together that could challenge in League One and an expected summer takeover that didn’t materialise until November it always felt like they were playing catch up.
 
Following the 2-2 draw with the Cobblers in December, there were hopes that survival could be achieved with the Cumbrians only three points from safety. The takeover by the Castle Sports Group had been finalised and funds were promised to first team manager Paul Simpson ahead of the January transfer window. In came Luke Armstrong, prolific for Harrogate for a number of years in League Two, experienced and highly rated goalkeeper Harry Lewis from Bradford, Harrison Neal from Sheffield United and Josh Vela from Fleetwood. Anton Dudik on a free transfer and striker Georgie Kelly from Rotherham rounded off the permanent transfers while Sean Grehen and Jack Diamond signed on loan.
 
So there were reasons to be optimistic ahead of the second half of the season but the new arrivals didn’t translate to success on the pitch. A disastrous run of twelve defeats in thirteen games between January and March took them to the foot of the table and it’s been a struggle to find their way back above water since. A stunning result at Peterborough, where United won 3-1, on Good Friday was a sign of what they can be but that kind of performance has been far too rare for their fans to have hope of survival.
 
Whether it’s confirmed this weekend or not, it would take a miracle to keep Carlisle up but, with the takeover in place and infrastructure around the club being built back up there is still hope for a brighter future.
 

Last Time Out

The Cobblers beat Port Vale 2-0 on Easter Monday while Carlisle followed up their win at London Road by losing 3-1 at home to in form Lincoln City.

One To Watch

Jon Mellish has stepped up from central defence into midfield in the last couple of games and smashed in a remarkable hattrick at London Road in their 3-1 win on Good Friday.

Mellish signed for The Cumbrians in 2019 and has racked up over one hundred and fifty appearances for the club. He’s a typical Paul Simpson player and will not give an inch for the entire ninety minutes, no matter the circumstance.

Team News

The Cobblers are close to welcoming back long term absentee Tyler Magloire in one of the final four games but he won’t be rushed and his time is unlikely to be this weekend. Liam Moore tweaked his shoulder during the win over Port Vale and is a doubt for the game but Jon Brady is hopeful of having at least one more back in time for Saturday. Akin Odimayo made a welcome return to the bench on Monday and is pushing for a start.
 
Carlisle are without Taylor Charters and Josh Vela who look set to miss the rest of the season while Dylan McGeouch is another unlikely to be available for Saturday. Callum Guy has been out for most of the season after suffering an ACL injury. Josh Kayode is back in training but is probably not going to be risked against the Cobblers.
 

Line-Up Prediction

Match Officials

Ross Joyce is the referee at Sixfields on Saturday. Joyce has taken charge of the Cobblers once this season – for the 2-1 defeat at Wigan back in August. Marc Wilson and Steve Durnall are running the lines and Kenwyn Hughes is fourth official.

Prediction

Only three teams are yet to have a 0-0 draw this season – Barnsley are one and the Cobblers and Carlisle are the others. So I wouldn’t put it past the footballing Gods to send one our way on Saturday!

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