Fixture: Northampton Town v Leyton Orient, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Saturday, September 26, 3pm kick-off
Forecast: 15C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Zander Diamond (leg), Ricky Holmes (back strain), Brendan Moloney (knee), Evan Horwood (groin), Paul Corry (knee), Jason Taylor (suspended – 2 of 4).
Betting: Northampton 17/10, draw 12/15, Orient 6/4
Form guide: Cobblers WWLWDL, Orient DDLLWW
Likely line-ups: Northampton: (4-4-1-1): Smith; Furlong, Cresswell, Brisley, Buchanan; D’Ath, Watson, Byrom, Adams; Hoskins; Richards. Orient (4-1-2-1-2): Cisak; Clohessy, Baudry, Essam, Shaw; Payne; Moore, Pritchard; Cox; Simpson, Palmer.
Man in the middle: Michael Bull will be taking charge of his first game of the Football League season this weekend. The 46-year-old dished out two red cards the last time he refed a Northampton game when Ivan Toney and Hayden White were both sent off in Bury’s 3-2 win over the Cobblers on Boxing Day last year.
Last time out: Morecambe 2 (Barkhuizen, Byrom OG) Northampton 4 (D’Ath, Hoskins, Byrom, Calvert-Lewin); Leyton Orient 1 (Simpson) Wycombe 1 (Bloomfield)
Most recent meeting: November 11, 2014, JPT quarter-final – Leyton Orient 2 (Simpson, Bartley) Northampton 0.
Chris Wilder’s view: “We are playing the team top of the league, the handbrake will be off and let’s go for it. We’ve had two good performances and results and we want to make it three on the spin.
“Leyton Orient have started the season on fine form and I’d think out of all the teams that came down they would definitely be the one expected to bounce back straight away. They have got off to a great start and it’s up to us to put a dent in their promotion charge. I’m sure there will be another good crowd in and looking at it I’d say it’s probably one of the stand out games of the day in our division.”
Opposition view: Orient striker Ollie Palmer spoke ahead of the game: “I played against Northampton last season with Mansfield and a couple of times before. They are a good side and I know they are not top of the table at the moment, but I am sure come the end of the season they will be there or there abouts so it will be a difficult match for us. We are away from home, but if we can get back to winning ways that will be great.”
Manager Ian Hendon added: “What formation we go with depends on the game and personnel. We can play 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 like we did on Saturday against Wycombe or the diamond formation. We can even play three at the back if we want. We can put out any system.”
Cobblers connection: Striker Scott McGleish has strong connections with both Northampton and the O’s having had a number of spells at the two clubs. His first spell at Orient lasted for just one season in 1996 when he netted seven times in 36 appearances. That was followed by longer stints at Barnet and then Colchester before he signed for Northampton where he scored 42 goals in 111 games between 2004 and 2007. The following two years were spent at Wycombe before he had loan spells at both Sixfields and Orient in the 2008-09 season. He then secured a permanent return to the O’s, scoring a further 24 goals in 81 matches. McGleish is currently on the management committee of the Professional Footballers’ Association.
James Heneghan’s preview: Saturday’s home clash with high-flying Leyton Orient presents an in-form Cobblers side with a real opportunity to lay down a marker and confirm themselves as genuine promotion contenders in Sky Bet League Two.
Northampton have shown in glimpses what they can be capable of this season but Chris Wilder’s side are yet to display the consistency required to challenge for a top seven spot.
However, after two wins in two and with the league leaders in town, Saturday’s game is an opportune time to gauge exactly where the Cobblers are at this early stage and if the home side were to come away with all three points, they could find themselves as high as second place come 5pm.
Orient are looking to bounce straight back to League One following relegation last season and they’ve made a bright start with five wins from their opening eight games enough to put them one point clear at the summit, although they are without a win in four games this month.
Meetings between these two clubs are few and far between in recent times with only three games in six years. The overall record swings narrowly in Northampton’s favour with the Cobblers winning 29 of the 77 meetings to Orient’s 28.
With no injury concerns, O’s boss Ian Hendon is likely to make two changes from his side’s draw against Wycombe last weekend with Ollie Palmer and Bradley Pritchard set to come in for Paul McCallum and Lloyd James respectively.
Despite Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s impressive showing at Morecambe, fit-again skipper Marc Richards should come straight back into the Northampton starting XI having recovered from a minor side strain that kept him on the bench last week.
However, while the current vibe at Sixfields is positive given recent results, injuries continue to plague Chris Wilder and co. with midfielder Paul Corry the latest addition to an ever-growing list.
Ricky Holmes, Zander Diamond, Brendan Moloney and Evan Horwood are also sidelined while Jason Taylor will miss the second of his four-game suspension.
With the exception of Richards, Wilder will surely be tempted to persist with the same team that performed so impressively at Morecambe. How he’d dearly love a repeat performance and result.
Prediction: Northampton 2 Orient 2