James Heneghan’s Northampton Town v Swindon Town preview

GET IN THERE! - Kenji Gorre runs away to celebrate after scoring at Swindon earlier in the season (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
GET IN THERE! - Kenji Gorre runs away to celebrate after scoring at Swindon earlier in the season (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Fixture: Northampton Town v Swindon Town, Sky Bet League One

Date/time: Tuesday, February 14, 7.45pm kick-off

Venue: Sixfields

Forecast: 8C, cloudy

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Luke Williams (knee), Alex Revell (calf), Brendan Moloney (knee), Sam Hoskins (knee), Gabriel Zakuani (hamstring). Swindon: Luke Norris (groin), Brad Barry (ankle)

Betting: Northampton 17/20, draw 13/5, Swindon 16/5

Form guide: Cobblers WLWLLL, Robins LLLLWD

Avg. goals scored/conceded per game: Northampton 1.4/1.5, Swindon 0.9/1.5

Likely line-ups: Northampton (4-4-2): Smith; Eardley, Diamond, Nyatanga, Buchanan; Taylor, O’Toole, Boateng, Anderson; Richards, Smith. Swindon (5-3-2): Vigouroux; Dabo, Thompson, Conroy, Raphael, Brophy; Gladwin, Colkett, Ince; Ajose, Obika

Man in the middle: Cobblers fans do not have found memories of Tuesday’s referee Darren Handley after his last game in charge of Northampton saw Matty Taylor controversially sent off in October’s 1-1 draw at Scunthorpe. That’s one of only two red cards Handley’s handed out this season, the other going to Peterborough’s Ryan Tafazolli.

Robins head coach Luke Williams

Robins head coach Luke Williams

Last time out: Northampton 3 (O’Toole 2, Richards) Chesterfield 1; Bury 1 Swindon 0

Most recent meeting: Tuesday, September 27, 2016 – Swindon Town 1 (Murray) Northampton Town 3 (Beautyman, O’Toole, Gorre)

Record v Swindon: P130 W46 D26 L52

Opposition view: ”Northampton started the season extremely well but had a change in form and in manager,” said Robins head coach Luke Williams ahead of Tuesday’s clash. “They are a team that can be beaten. I’ve got no fear at all, neither have the players, and I love my job and we’re all fighting for the club to be in the division.

Swindon, managed by a combination of Luke Williams and former Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood, have endured a torrid campaign themselves, and following defeat to relegation rivals Bury on Saturday – their fourth loss on the trot – they are now in the bottom four and two points adrift of safety.

“Some people would prefer us to kick the ball forward every single time, but that has ended in disastrous results before. I have shown a flexibility this season with the different formations we’ve played, we’ve played with more width and then less.”

James Heneghan’s preview: Cobblers entertain fellow relegation battlers Swindon Town on Tuesday evening in a game that represents a prime opportunity for Justin Edinburgh’s men to record back-to-back league wins for the first time since October.

If there is one criticism of Northampton above all else this season, it’s their inability to string together a consistent run of results, with uplifting wins often followed by dispiriting defeats and games that should end with a hard-fought point instead ending in frustration.

The last time they notched successive wins came at the end of October when they beat current struggling duo Shrewsbury Town and Bury, and if they can repeat the trick this week, a mid-table berth will be within sight.

But, by the same token, and such are the fine margins at the bottom of Sky Bet League One, defeat to Swindon this evening would undo much of the good work achieved in previous home games against Coventry and Chesterfield and leave them too close to relegation for comfort.

Swindon, managed by a combination of Luke Williams and former Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood, have endured a torrid campaign themselves, and following defeat to relegation rivals Bury on Saturday – their fourth loss on the trot – they are now in the bottom four and two points adrift of safety.

Harry Beautyman opens the scoring at the County Ground

Harry Beautyman opens the scoring at the County Ground

In fact, their form coming to Sixfields is not entirely dissimilar to that of Chesterfield prior to Saturday. The Robins have won just one of their last 11 league games, scoring only seven goals in that period.

And their away form hardly makes for better reading having notched just two wins and collected only 11 points on the road this season.

Despite that, though, Swindon are the only side in the current bottom nine not to have changed managers this season, although that’s somewhat debatable after Sherwood’s appointment as director of football in November when he seemingly assumed virtually every managerial duty, from the style of play to team selection.

But Sherwood’s arrival has not had the desired effect and now his team are in the midst of an absolutely critical phase of the season.

After Bury on Saturday and Northampton tonight, the Robins then play six of the current bottom seven – Oldham, Coventry, Gillingham, Chesterfield and Port Vale – all in succession in what will surely be the defining period of their season, particularly given what looks a tough run-in on paper.

The outcome of those games could well have an impact on Northampton, who themselves are in a key period, with the visit of Swindon made all the more important by tricky-looking trips to Southend United and Fleetwood Town over the next 11 days.

Despite the quick turnaround, Justin Edinburgh is unlikely to make sweeping changes this evening, in fact with Gabriel Zakuani, Luke Williams and Alex Revell still out, he’ll be tempted to name an unchanged XI for this, the 131st meeting between Northampton and Swindon.

And considering what’s at stake, it may well prove one of their most important encounters to date.

Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Swindon Town 0