Fixture: Northampton Town v Bolton Wanderers, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, November 26, 3pm kick-off
Forecast: 6C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Lewin Nyatanga (Achilles), Sam Hoskins (back), JJ Hooper (thigh), Zander Diamond (fractured cheekbone). Bolton: David Wheater (back), Dorian Dervite (knee), Mark Davies (knee), Darren Pratley (broken leg), Mark Howard (thumb)
Betting: Northampton 19/10, draw 12/5, Bolton 7/5
Form guide: Cobblers LLLDWW, Wanderers WWLLWW
Avg. goals scored/conceded per game: Northampton 1.5/1.4; Bolton 1.4/0.6
Likely line-ups: Northampton (4-3-3): Cornell; Moloney, Zakuani, Nyatanga, Buchanan; McCourt, Taylor, Hoskins; Anderson, Potter, Revell. Bolton (4-2-3-1): Alnwick; Wilson, Derik, Beevers, A Taylor; Thorpe, Spearing; Ameobi, Vela, Clough; Madine
Man in the middle: Darren Deadman
Last time out: Bradford City 1 Northampton 0; Bolton 1 (Clough) Coventry City 0
Most recent meeting: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 – Bolton Wanderers 1 (Nolan) Northampton Town 2 (Akinfenwa 2)
Record v Bolton: P11 W5 D1 L5
Cobblers connection: Cobblers connection: Northampton midfielder Matty Taylor has enjoyed an illustrious playing career that has so far spanned 17 years, including three at Bolton Wanderers between 2008 and 2011 when the Trotters were mixing it in the Premier League club. After starting out at Luton Town followed by six years at Portsmouth, Taylor signed for Bolton in January 2008 for an undisclosed fee and went on to play 139 times for the club, scoring 23 goals. He then had three years at West Ham United followed by a shorter stint at Burnley.
James Heneghan’s preview: If this week’s run of fixtures against Peterborough United, Bradford City and now Bolton Wanderers was designed to test Northampton’s resolve and credentials to fight it out among the best at this level, they have so far failed to make the grade.
Though yet to be outplayed or suffer a heavy defeat this season, a run of three straight losses, all by the odd goal, have sent the Cobblers tumbling down the table, from sixth two weeks ago to 15th at the present time.
And after the agony of Gillingham, the heartbreak against Peterborough and the disappointment of Bradford, it doesn’t get any easier for the Cobblers this weekend when in-form and high-flying Bolton come to town.
But Saturday does at least offer one final chance to make something out of a poor week and remind us all that this team is capable of competing with the finest that Sky Bet League One has to offer.
It’s another opportunity to make a statement of intent and if nothing else, a chance to prove to themselves that not only do they belong at this level but they can mix it with the best.
It’s far from a straightforward task, especially as Bolton arrive at Sixfields boasting by far and away the best defensive record in the whole of League One having conceded a miserly 12 goals in 19 games, four fewer than any other side.
With seven wins in the last eight and only four defeats all season, the Trotters are also a team in-form and high on confidence having adapted seamlessly to dropping down a division following their dramatic fall from grace over the last five years.
It wasn’t so long ago when Wanderers were competing with Europe’s finest – it’s nine years ago this month when they 2-2 with Bayern Munich in the Uefa Cup – but with their finances seemingly in order and Phil Parkinson now at the helm, it appears the club are on the up once again and few would be surprised if they were to gain promotion this season.
For this weekend’s game, Bolton welcome midfielder Liam Trotter back from suspension but have David Wheater (back), Dorian Dervite (knee), Mark Davies (knee), Darren Pratley (broken leg) and Mark Howard (thumb) all out.
Rob Page once again has decisions to make as he attempts to reverse his side’s current slump and get them moving in the right direction again.
David Cornell will be given the opportunity to nail down the goalkeeper’s position, and Lewin Nyatanga is likely to come straight back in alongside Gabriel Zakuani despite Rod McDonald’s assured performance at Bradford City.
Sam Hoskins was forced off at Valley Parade through injury but is expected to be fit, while Page must also decide if he wants to tweak his formation again.
Pushing Matty Taylor out wide and playing Sam Hoskins through the middle, the Cobblers boss elected for 4-4-1-1 at Bradford but given the result and general lack of goal threat, he could well return to 4-3-3 and bring in either Kenji Gorre or Alfie Potter, both of whom must be champing at the bit.
This week was a good opportunity for Northampton to test themselves against three of the promotion favourites. It’ been a struggle so far but they have one final chance to salvage something this weekend.
Prediction: Northampton Town 1 Bolton Wanderers 1