Feel the rhythm, Feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s Playoff Time!
So here we are, back again. After the agonising final day drama at Barrow and Bristol Rovers, it’s a begrudging playoff campaign for the Cobblers who now have to lift themselves to take on Mansfield Town, starting with an away leg that will bring back haunting memories of 2004.
Back then, no-one gave the Cobblers a hope as we travelled with a 2-0 first leg deficit. What unfolded that night in the second leg became one of the most emotional evenings in living memory. Town stormed back to take an incredible 3-0 lead before Tom Curtis survived what would have been a second booking of the game for Mansfield. Having escaped that, Curtis inevitably scored the goal to take the tie to extra time before the Stags won on penalties.
Colin Calderwood was the man in the Cobblers dugout that evening as the head honcho and returns as Jon Brady’s assistant looking to lay some ghosts to rest. The name of the game in the first leg is likely to ensure that we’re still well in the tie by the time the reverse fixture comes around on Wednesday night.
COME ON, COBBLERS!
When Mansfield beat the Cobblers at Field Mill back in early April, it looked to all the world like they were on such a charge that they would comfortably overtake us come the end of the season. With three points taken from us, the Stags were then level on points with us with two games in hand.
It may be a slight disappointment, then, that the season ended with them still needing a point to confirm their place in the top seven but that also speaks to some strong finishes from those above them. Mansfield themselves followed the Cobblers result up with three defeats in their next four games including reverses at home to Sutton United and away at Carlisle United.
Nigel Clough’s men bounced back enough to seal that final place in the top seven, though, with a draw against Forest Green at home enough to claim a tasty tie with the Cobblers.
Last time out
Mansfield clinched their playoff place by drawing with Forest Green Rovers on the final day of the season, with that result enough to hand Rovers the League Two title. The Cobblers beat Barrow 3-1 but dropped out of the top three thanks to a remarkable 7-0 win for Bristol Rovers against Scunthorpe United.
One to watch
John-Joe O’Toole needs no introduction. Having been remoulded into a centre-back at Burton, O’Toole joined Mansfield in October 2021 and has been a consistent part of a Stags side that worked themselves into the playoffs.
Mansfield full-back Kellan Gordon is the only Stags’ player expected to be unavailable for selection ahead of the first leg with an otherwise healthy squad to choose from for Nigel Clough.
The Cobblers will definitely be without goalkeeper Liam Roberts, who was sent off on the final day of the season at Barrow. Roberts serves a one match ban and will serve that in the first leg so Jonathan Maxted will come in for him. Paul Lewis, who saw red in the league game at Field Mill, is still likely to miss the playoffs, and Sid Nelson is out long term.
Last meeting – Mansfield 1-0 Cobblers – 02/04/22
A few weeks ago, Mansfield beat the Cobblers by a single goal at Field Mill thanks to an Ollie Hawkins goal. Paul Lewis was later sent off for the Cobblers.
Line-up Prediction – Powered by FanHub
Taking charge of the first leg is Stephen Backhouse who also refereed the league game between the two sides at Field Mill, sending off Paul Lewis for the Cobblers. Conor Farrell and Mark Stevens are running the lines and Simon Mather is fourth official.
Charles: Mansfield 0-5 Cobblers
Danny: Mansfield 0-0 Cobblers
Neil: Mansfield 7-0 Cobblers
Jefé: Mansfield 1-1 Cobblers
Charles and Danny looked ahead to the big game on this week’s Preview Show in the company of Craig Priest from the Mansfield Matters podcast:
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.