Match Preview: Northampton Town v Wigan Athletic

Northampton Town v Wigan Athletic: League One

Another break has come and gone and the Cobblers are back once again. This time it’s the FA Cup Third Round that’s caused a pause in a season that seems to be stopping and starting more than a John Hodge burst down the wing. We should now at least have a few weeks of non-disrupted action, though, and we come back to Sixfields on Saturday to host a Wigan side that narrowly beat us back in August at the DW Stadium.
 
That meant it was two defeats from two for Town at the start of the season and few could have predicted that by the time we met again the Cobblers would be in ninth place in the league. Our latest success, a 1-0 victory over Cheltenham was hard fought and saw us have to drag a result out of a stubborn away side but this one should be far more open.
 
The Latics are in a bit of a false position thanks to their points deduction at the start of the season and if you added those points back on they’d be right behind us in tenth so this should be a good one!

 

The Opposition

Wigan began the campaign in turmoil and with that eight-point deduction hanging over their head but erased it within four games of the season with three wins, including that one over the Cobblers, and a draw from their opening four games. Once that milestone had been achieved, though, the Latics wobbled and suffered six defeats in their following seven games, maybe pointing to a psychological block after putting so much effort into overturning the points deficit.
 
Shaun Maloney had put together a young side and they inevitably hit patchy form but when they have switched it on they’ve come out with some fantastic results. A home win over Peterborough was a highlight while they’ve also beaten Oxford United and picked up a very good point having dominated Barnsley away from home in their last league outing.
 
Monday night saw them come up against Manchester United in the FA Cup Third Round and they put in a very good shift, losing 2-0 only after Bruno Fernandes had thrown himself on the floor to well and truly win a penalty in the second half. They’ll take a lot of encouragement from that performance and Maloney will be buoyed by the fact that his side kept their energy levels going once they went two down.
 
One element they’re still working on is creating and finishing chances – they currently sit on the lowest number of shots on target in the league – but they do have one of the highest conversion rates of those shots so you could look at that in two ways…either the conversion will inevitably go down and they’ll struggle or that all they’re missing is a bit more quality and they might start hammering some teams.
 
As they look to pull themselves away from the bottom four, the Latics still need points but have shown enough so far to make you think relegation shouldn’t be a problem they’re looking at for too much longer.
 

Last Time Out

The Cobblers beat Cheltenham 1-0 in our latest game two weeks ago thanks to Keiron Bowie’s penalty while Wigan drew 1-1 with Barnsley before going out of the FA Cup at the hands of Manchester United on Monday night.

One To Watch

Centre back Charlie Hughes continues to impress and provides Wigan with a solid base to build on.

Hughes signed an extended deal with the club last summer and has been a major reason why his side have clawed their way out of the bottom four in recent weeks. If performances continue like this, it won’t be long before clubs from higher divisions come calling for the Wigan born defender.

Team News

The Cobblers welcome back Lee Burge to goal this weekend. Max Thompson is back with Newcastle United and Burge is now fully fit to take up the goalkeeper spot again. Sam Hoskins is still a doubt going into the weekend with Jon Brady saying this game could come too soon for our top scorer. Sam Sherring is still a few weeks away from coming back and will definitely miss the game.

Wigan could hand a debut to defender Luke Chambers (not that one) after he signed on loan from Liverpool on Friday. The Latics may also be boosted by the return of Matt Smith with Shaun Maloney hinting this week that he may be back in time for Saturday. Jason Kerr is another to come back into the squad after returning to training this week.

Line-Up Prediction

Match Officials

Anthony Backhouse is in the middle for this one. Backhouse was last in charge of the Cobblers for our 3-1 win at Bradford City in November 2022. Ian Cooper and Mark Pottage are running the lines and Carl Brook is fourth official.

Prediction

There should be goals in this one with a much more open feel to proceedings. I’m going for a 2-2 draw.

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