It’s crunch time in the race for promotion in League Two with most involved just a couple of dropped points away from a potentially season defining fall. The pressure is on as the Cobblers host Hartlepool United…
Another midweek of catch up games have done little to stop the ever tightening situation at the top of League Two. The Cobblers’ defeat to Bristol Rovers last weekend threw fresh doubt over our ability to hold our own in the race for automatic promotion while other results have now given us every reason even to doubt our top seven ambitions.
Now, then, come eight games that will decided whether the current crop can crown a mostly strong season with a finish to prove that they deserve the position they’ve held for most of the campaign. That starts with a home game with Hartlepool United, on a decent run of form away from home and who upset our fellow promotion hopefuls Newport last weekend.
Jon Brady needs to lead the way in firing up his players and, in turn, the home fans for this one to keep those dreams of an immediate return to League One in tact.
Despite a mid-season disruption to the club, Hartlepool have made a very steady return to the Football League. Promotion via the National League playoffs back in June – after surviving the drama of a last minute goal from the Torquay (and now Port Vale) keeper Lucas Covolan – and set their sights on attacking League Two.
Victory over Town in October put the Pools ahead of us in eighth place but Dave Challinor’s defection to National League Stockport County stalled their progress. A recovery under former player Graeme Lee is in full swing, though, and they come into the weekend having won four of their last five away league games as well as making it into the FA Cup Fourth Round and the Pizza Cup semi-finals.
Last weekend’s win at Newport should come as a warning shot – this United side are gaining more and more confidence as the season goes on and will be a tough opponent for Jon Brady’s men on Saturday.
Last time out
One to watch
Winger Luke Molyneux took his tally to eight for the season by scoring at Newport last week and has scored in three of the last five games in all competitions, making this comfortably his best scoring season to date.
The Cobblers are definitely without Tyler Magloire after suffering a dislocated shoulder in the early stages of last weekend’s Bristol Rovers defeat while Shaun McWilliams is out for the season. Josh Eppiah is now back in full training, though, and could come back into the squad. Idris Kanu is on his way back to fitness but won’t be ready for the weekend.
Hartlepool could welcome back loanee Bryn Morris, who was on loan with the Cobblers last season, from an ankle injury. Mark Shelton sat out of the win at Newport and he could be missing again.
Sam Hoskins gave the Cobblers the lead at Victoria Park back in October but Pools hit back almost immediately through David Ferguson. Luke Molyneux then struck the winner with seven minutes to play for the home side.
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It’s another Championship referee taking charge this weekend with Keith Stroud in the middle. Stroud last oversaw a Cobblers game back on the final day of the 2017/18 season, the 2-2 draw with Oldham Athletic. Matthew Jones and Natalie Aspinall are running the lines and Paul Howard is fourth official.
Charles: Cobblers 1-0 Hartlepool
Danny: Cobblers 2-1 Hartlepool
Neil: Cobblers 9-9 Hartlepool
Jefe: Cobblers 1-1 Hartlepool
We were joined this week by Hartlepool fans Jack and Adam from the HUFC Chat podcast 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.