With injuries mounting, promotion hopes hanging in the air, playoff places to fight for and the drama of the run-in to come, there’s no room to stand still for the Cobblers or Tuesday’s opponents Mansfield Town. The Stags come to Sixfields on the back of a weekend postponement of their game with Leyton Orient, adding to their already busy schedule for the final few weeks.
They are, though, right in the mix for promotion places despite a similar injury crisis to the Cobblers which was heightened this week by Will Swan being ruled out for the season with an ankle problem.
With our recent history, this is unlikely to be a quiet affair. But what could possibly go wrong with a Tuesday night game against Mansfield…?
After defeat in last season’s playoff final at Wembley, Nigel Clough has gone again and kept Mansfield in the hunt for promotion for the majority of this season. Despite patches of form where the fans have been questioning tactics, the Stags have had enough to at least aim for a playoff place once again.
After going fourth in October, they hit a patch of shaky form with four defeats in six games including a sobering 3-0 reverse at Harrogate. But, since then, there’s been a real effort to get back on track and just three defeats since then has meant that Clough’s men have put themselves in a strong position to finish the season.
The January signings of Alfie Kilgour, Callum Johnson, Louis Reed and Davis Keillor-Dunn have added strength to their ranks and there’s every chance that, with their upcoming games in hand, we could be set for yet another piece of playoff drama involved them and the Cobblers come May.
Last Time Out
The Cobblers rescued a point in a 1-1 draw with Hartlepool United on Saturday while Mansfield’s last outing was a 3-1 victory at AFC Wimbledon ten days ago.
One To Watch
Since signing in January, Davis Keillor-Dunn has hit the ground running at Field Mill. The standout player in Oldham’s miserable campaign last season, Keillor-Dunn moved to Burton in the summer but, despite scoring six times in League One, was allowed to join the Stags in January.
With Will Swan out for the season, plenty of hopes will be laid at the feet of Keillor-Dunn and he’s unlikely to let his new side down.
The Cobblers may have even more injury problems to deal with on Tuesday night with Jack Sowerby getting clotheslined in the eye at Hartlepool and Josh Eppiah also coming off with a knee problem so both will be check on ahead of the Mansfield game. Ali Koiki and Ben Fox are out for the season and Aaron McGowan serves the second of his three game suspension. Tyler Magloire, Akin Odimayo, Shaun McWilliams, Josh Harrop and Danny Hylton are the other absentees.
Paul Osew, the former AFC Wimbledon left back, signed over the weekend and was added to the squad for Hartlepool while there was good news in attack with Keiron Bowie returning from the bench.
Mansfield’s Callum Johnson was a doubt for Saturday’s game at Orient and will be looked at again before Tuesday night, as will defenders Elliott Hewitt and Stephen McLaughlin.
Anthony Hartigan is definitely missing after a shoulder injury that looks set to keep him out for the season. Rhys Oates has a chance of returning with the few extra day’s rest while Christy Pym has been out with illness but should be back in the squad again.
Oliver Langford takes charge on Tuesday night under the lights. His last Cobblers game was our 1-0 defeat at home to Bristol Rovers last March and he’s shown 94 yellow card and 1 red so far this season. Robert Hyde and Mark Russell are running the lines and Sam Purkiss is fourth official.
There’s mounting injury problems on both sides but that won’t stop this being a fiery encounter. Mansfield’s extra few days’ rest could help and I’m going for an entertaining draw. 2-2.
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.