James Heneghan’s Northampton Town v Accrington Stanley preview

Ricky Holmes could be in line for his first start of the season on Monday

Ricky Holmes could be in line for his first start of the season on Monday

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Fixture: Northampton Town v Accrington Stanley, Sky Bet League Two

Date/time: Monday, December 28, 3pm kick-off

Venue: Sixfields

Forecast: Cloudy, 10C

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Paul Corry (knee). Accrington: Dean Winnard (ankle)

Betting: Northampton 6/5, draw 5/2, Stanley 21/20

Form guide: Cobblers LWWWWW, Accrington DLWWDW

Avg. goals scored/conceded per game: Northampton 1.7/1.3, Accrington 1.8/1.2

Likely line-ups: Northampton (4-2-3-1): Smith; Moloney, Cresswell, Diamond, Buchanan; O’Toole, Byrom; Potter, Adams, D’Ath; Richards. Accrington (4-4-1-1): Mooney; Conneely, Davies, Wright, Pearson; Mingoia, Crooks, Halliday, McConville; Windass; Kee.

Man in the middle: Nick Kinseley has handed out more red cards per game than any other referee who has officiated in League Two this season – brandishing six reds in just 14 games. One of those players sent off was Northampton’s Josh Lelan when the Essex official took charge of August’s 2-0 home loss to Plymouth.

Last time out: Northampton 1 (Cresswell) Portsmouth 2 (Evans, Chaplin); Stevenage 1 (Gnanduillet) Accrington 1 (Kee)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, August 29, 2015 – Accrington 1 (Windass) Northampton 1 (Richards)

Overall record v Accrington: P13 W7 D3 L3

Cobblers connection: In truth, connections between these two clubs are few and far between. Of the current Cobblers squad, Joel Byrom and Ryan Watson have spent time at Stanley, albeit very briefly, playing just one game between them, while both Kaid Mohamed and James Gray have also featured for both clubs.

James Heneghan’s preview: A quick glance at the League Two table might suggest that Accrington don’t pose an immediate threat to Northampton’s lofty league position, but on closer inspection, a win over the Cobblers on Monday would effectively leave Stanley better placed in the race for automatic promotion – despite currently lying seven points and five places adrift.

That’s due to a series of recent postponements – the latest coming on Saturday – but take the points home on Monday, plus win their two games in hand, and Accrington would find themselves above Northampton and just one point off the top.

John Coleman’s side have very much been the surprise package this season. Having been 66/1 outsiders to win the title before a ball was kicked, Stanley now find themselves as low as 14/1 to lift the trophy come May.

Accrington proved more than a match for Northampton back in August when the two played out a 1-1 draw, and had they been more clinical in front of goal, especially in a first half that they dominated for large periods, Coleman’s men could well have taken all three points.

Their away form has been impressive and sees them sit fourth in the League Two away table in a season which has included impressive wins at Leyton Orient, Cambridge and Crawley.

Much of their success has been built around in-demand midfielder Josh Windass who impressed against Northampton back in August, scoring from the spot to cancel out Marc Richards’ opener, and he’s Stanley’s current top scorer this season with 10 goals.

For the Clobbers, Saturday’s washout at York allows boss Chris Wilder an opportunity to rethink his options having previously planned to rotate his squad during the busy festive period.

Ricky Holmes is closing in on his first start of the season, while both Sam Hoskins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are also possible starters if Wilder has any plans to freshen up his side following defeat to Portsmouth last time out. Paul Corry remains Town’s only injury absentee.

Prediction: Northampton 2 Accrington 1