Fixture: Northampton Town v West Ham United U21s, Checkatrade Trophy
Date/time: Tuesday, November 8, 7.45pm kick-off
Forecast: 3C, showers
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Jak McCourt (neck), Gabriel Zakuani (international duty), Kenji Gorre (international duty)
Betting: Northampton 23/20, draw 12/5, West Ham 21/10
Form guide: Cobblers WWWLLD, West Ham WWWLLD
Possible line-ups: Northampton: Cornell, Phillips, Diamond, McDonald, Buchanan, Potter, O’Toole, Beautyman, Byrom, D’Ath, Richards. West Ham: Howes, Sylvetre, Pike, Akinola, Neufville, Makasi, Lewis, Kemp, Browne, Diangana, Gordon
Man in the middle: Graham Salisbury
Last time out: Northampton 6 (Richards 2, Anderson, O’Toole, Taylor, Hooper) Harrow Borough 0; Nottingham Forest U23s 1 West Ham U23s 2 (Browne 2)
James Heneghan’s preview: With both teams winless and unable to qualify for the next round of this much-derided competition, it’s no wonder that tonight’s final group stage game between Northampton and West Ham U23s is hardly capturing people’s imaginations.
The lack of foresight from the powers that be means the poorly revamped format has lent itself to a situation like this where neither team have anything to play for.
Yet here we are with clubs forced to spend time, effort and money on a game that so few fans will bother to attend.
Rob Page’s hands are once again tied in terms of his team selection as the rules state he must name at least six players who either started the last game or are in the top 11 appearance makers this season.
That means several fringe players will remain disappointed but at least some of those in desperate need of game-time, such as Aaron Phillips, Harry Beautyman, Alfie Potter and perhaps even Rod McDonald, will get a go.
Like Northampton, West Ham’s youngsters have also struggled to make much impression on the competition, losing 4-2 to Coventry and 3-0 to Wycombe Wanderers, meaning they too are unable to qualify.
Handing a rare opportunity to those players who have barely featured this season is perhaps the only minor point of interest tonight, other than seeing how many bother to turn up, which is a sad reflection of the pitiful state of this hugely unpopular competition.