The Cobblers are back at Sixfields on Saturday for a crunch game against a Bristol Rovers side who have momentum on their side…
With just nine games to go in the season, it’s crunch time in the hunt for promotion. Had the Cobblers conceded a late equaliser at Stevenage on Tuesday night we’d have been in a whole world of trouble but we held out for three big points to remain second in the league. The promotion picture is changing with every passing week, though, and any sign of bad form will now send us hurtling out of the top three.
One of the teams hunting us down are Bristol Rovers who come into the game in seventh place and in good form. With injuries threatening to hurt us in the final furlong, it’s going to take nerves of steel all round if the Cobblers are to get over the line. Sixfields needs to buzz again, as it did against Tranmere, if we’re to take a major step towards calming those nerves.
If we do pick up what would be a monumental three points, we’d even close the gap on Forest Green to three points ahead of their game on Monday night! It’s all very much on a knife edge.
Back in November, the Cobblers travelled to Bristol Rovers nine points ahead of their opponents and with a sense that we’d be competing at opposite ends of the league table come the run-in. But a victory on that afternoon for the Gas was enough to raise spirits in the camp and set Rovers on the first rung of a revival ladder.
Joey Barton has always kept the belief that his side would be challenging for promotion come seasons’ end and that belief has started to become a reality as the winter months have seen them rise into the top seven ahead of the final push. Rovers now sit just three points behind us in second and can overtake us with a victory at Sixfields by a couple of goals.
There’s a sense that Barton’s men have hit form in exactly the right time and with some strong January fire power added there’s every chance that they’re about to become a genuine rival for a top three place.
Last time out
The Cobblers beat Stevenage 2-1 on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Aaron McGowan and Mitch Pinnock while Rovers saw off Colchester United 1-0 at the Memorial Stadium.
One to watch
Elliot Anderson has hit the ground running since signing on loan from Newcastle United in January. As well as scoring three times, he’s added a whole new dimension to the Rovers attack, coming in from the left hand side and causing nightmares for defenders. Anderson was even compared to Diego Maradona earlier this week!
Josh Eppiah is still out for the Cobblers while Shaun McWilliams is also expected to be missing again. Ali Koiki picked up a hamstring injury in midweek and will be assessed ahead of the weekend.
Bristol Rovers will check on Leon Clarke, who is close to a return from a groin injury with the striker close to a return for the Sixfields clash. Sam Nicholson is still expected to be out, though, with a shin injury that’s kept him out of the last three games. Josh Grant will also miss this one with a knee injury that’s kept him out long term and midfielder Jon Nolan is still out. Defender Alfie Kilgour is likely to miss the rest of the season after knee surgery.
Bristol Rovers 2-1 Northampton Town – 13/11/21
Sam Hoskins gave the Cobblers the lead from the spot at the Memorial Stadium back in November but second half goals from Josh Grant and Anthony Evans turned it around for Rovers. Glenn Whelan was sent off for the Gas with twenty minutes to go but Rovers hung on for all three points.
Line-up Prediction – Powered by FanHub
The experienced Oliver Langford is the referee for this one. Langford last took charge of a Cobblers way back in April 2016 and a little game we had down at Exeter City when we were crowned League Two champions. Langford has predominantly worked in the Championship for the last couple of seasons. Richard Wild and James Wilson are running the lines and Tom Neild is fourth official.
Charles: Cobblers 3-0 Bristol Rovers
Danny: Cobblers 1-1 Bristol Rovers
Neil: Cobblers 1-3 Bristol Rovers
Jefe: Cobblers 1-3 Bristol Rovers
We were joined this week by Bristol Rovers fan Lucy Ford from Her Game Too as we looked ahead to the weekend’s game:
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.