Match Preview: Northampton Town v Portsmouth

Northampton Town v Portsmouth: League One

What a week it’s been for the Cobblers! After putting to bed any fears of another international break malaise by beating Cambridge United at Sixfields, we went up to Blackpool with much more hope than expectation on Tuesday night. But the way we took the game to the Tangerines, played with heart and style and came away with three points was something of an elevation from what we’ve seen so far this season.
 
The balance of Jon Brady’s team over the last three games has been excellent and has allowed the likes of Jon Guthrie and Louis Appéré time to fully recover from their recent injury woes. Keiron Bowie has found a new lease of life in a central striker role with two in two, Marc Leonard is flourishing in the number ten spot and Jack Sowerby has added his usual under the radar competitive edge back to the midfield. 
 
Town are now up to thirteenth in the table with clear breathing space between ourselves and the bottom four. We welcome high flying Portsmouth to Sixfields on Saturday looking to make it four league wins in a row and with a real chance to have a go at one of the sleeping giants of the division.
 
It should be another big Sixfields crowd with Pompey likely to pack out the away ends so we’re braced for a cracker of an afternoon.
 

The Opposition

It feels strange to still call Portsmouth a sleeping giant given some of the problems they’ve been through off the pitch in recent years but there’s no doubt about it – this is a club whose ambitions are set at least at Championship level.  The fall from Uefa Cup (Europa League) football to League Two was dramatic but they are, at last, starting to show signs that they’re fully equipped to return to the second tier, a level they’ve not been at since 2012.
 
Many managers have come and gone in an attempt to raise Pompey to those heights with Danny Cowley leaving mid-way through last season. He handed over to a surprise name in John Mousinho, still contracted in some shape or form as an Oxford player at the time, who was handed his first ever managerial role.
 
Eyebrows were raised but Mousinho quickly instilled a never-say-dire attitude at Fratton Park and, though they fell short of the playoffs in May, seeds were planted. An incredible 27 game unbeaten run in the league stretched from mid-March all the way through to last weekend when Blackpool finally brought it to an end.
 
As is the way with successful teams, though, Pompey went straight back out and won again on Tuesday night and will be hoping that a new run has been started as they thrive to stay in the pack clamouring for the two automatic promotion places. 
 
In the centre of their plans is top scorer Colby Bishop, who holds everything together and has a killer instinct with eleven goals so far this season. But, along with a whole host of others, Bishop is a major doubt for this weekend, potentially robbing our visitors of a major cog in their winning machine.
 
Either way, this is a side who will regroup and fight to the death and against adversity – they’ve scored five goals after the 90th minute in games this season and pulled games around in the blink of an eye. The work ethic and belief handed to them by Mousinho is looking likely to be giving them their best chance in years to return to where they feel they belong.
 

Last Time Out

The Cobblers beat Blackpool 2-1 at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night while Portsmouth saw off Burton Albion 2-0 at the Pirelli Stadium.

One To Watch

One of Pompey’s star turns this season has been young Alex Robertson, who scored his first senior goal in their win at Burton on Tuesday night.

Dundee born Robertson is on loan from Manchester City and his class has shone through in the middle of the park. The 20-year-old loves to get forward and has composure on the ball that belies his age. Robertson already looks on a different level than most in League One and we’ll need to keep him shackled on Saturday.

Team News

The Cobblers are still easing Jon Guthrie back to fitness and will make a late decision on him and fellow defender Patrick Brough after the left back pulled out late in the day on Tuesday. Ali Koiki, though, faces a spell on the sidelines after limping off at Stadium: MK in the EFL Trophy last week.

Portsmouth could be without leading scorer Colby Bishop after he had to be withdrawn on Tuesday night at half time with an ankle injury. Former Cobblers loanee Regan Poole is also out while Connor Ogilvie, Tino Anjorin, Anthony Scully, Tom Lowery and Josh Dockerill are others set to miss out again.

Line-Up Prediction

Match Officials

Darren Drysdale is the referee on Saturday at Sixfields. Drysdale was in charge for two Cobblers wins last season, a 2-0 success at Barrow and the 2-1 victory over Gillingham at Sixfields. Declan O’Shea and Ravel Cheosiaua are running the lines and Daniel Robinson is fourth official.

Prediction

I can see goals in this one with both sides able to find the net regularly this season. It should be a fairly open game so I’m going for a 2-2 draw. 

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