Fixture: Northampton Town v Wycombe Wanderers, Checkatrade Trophy
Date/time: Tuesday, August 30, 7.45pm kick-off
Forecast: 21C, sunny
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Gabriel Zakuani (international duty), Sam Hoskins (knock), Alfie Potter (knock). Wycombe: Max Muller, Scott Brown,Paris Cowan-Hall, Luke O’Nien, Myles Weston - all injury doubts
Betting: Northampton 4/5, draw 13/5, Wycombe 3/1
Form guide: Cobblers DDDDDD, Chairboys LDDWLL
Possible line-ups: Northampton (4-1-4-1): Cornell; Phillips, Diamond, McDonald, Buchanan; McCourt; D’Ath, Byrom, Taylor, Sonupe; Hooper. Wycombe (4-4-2): Blackman; Harriman, Stewart, Pierre, Jombarti; Freeman, Bean, Bloomfield, Wood; Hayes, Southwell
Man in the middle: Paul Tierney
Last time out: Coventry City 1 (Jones) Northampton Town 1 (Beautyman); Wycombe Wanderers 0 Colchester United 2 (Porter, Szmodics)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, February 20, 2016 – Northampton 1 (Rose) Wycombe 0
Record v Wycombe: P29 W9 D14 L6
Opposition view: Gareth Ainsworth plans to make full use of the six changes he’s allowed to make for tonight’s game, saying: “Playing five forces our hand and isn’t good but that means there are six places up for grabs. There will definitely be six people coming in to show me what they can do.”
Cobblers connection: As the 10th leading scorer in Northampton’s history, Adebayor Akinfenwa needs no introduction and he’s sure to receive a warm reception from the Sixfields faithful if he features in tonight’s cup clash this evening. Akinfenwa fired AFC Wimbledon to promotion last season but after being released by the Dons in the summer, he was snapped up by Wycombe where he’s scored one goal in six appearances.
James Heneghan’s preview: It’s almost 11 months to the day since the then-Northampton manager Chris Wilder called for the much-maligned Johnstone’s Paint Trophy to be ‘sacked off’, and whilst they haven’t quite gone that far, the competition has had a complete makeover for this season, now called the Checkatrade Trophy.
But the major alterations have not had the desired effect with the competition now even less appealing to fans of lower league clubs.
You could see the thinking behind the controversial change in format and there is little wrong with the concept of affording the country’s best young players the opportunity to play men’s football competitively.
But when it comes at a cost to lower league clubs, who must now play at least two additional fixtures in an already clogged season with their chances of a rare day out at Wembley significantly decreased in the process, it’s no wonder the new-look competition has struggled to capture the imagination.
Nevertheless, despite all the controversy and the threat of boycotts, here we are with the Cobblers set to welcome Wycombe Wanderers to Sixfields for the first of three games in a group format that also includes Coventry City and West Ham United Under-23s.
It might not be a competition that features high on the list of Rob Page’s priorities but it does offer him a chance to finally win a game as Northampton manager inside 90 minutes, something which he’s failed to do in seven attempts so far this season.
Page will be keen to give game-time to the handful of players who have not featured much so far this term, but he’s somewhat restricted by the competition’s rules.
Those rules state that all League One and League Two sides must field at least five players from the starting XI which began their previous league game or five out of their top 11 appearance makers so far this season.
That means that not all the fringe players will be given an opportunity despite the likes of Rod McDonald, Emmanuel Sonupe and Joel Byrom all in need of some action, while JJ Hooper will be eyeing up his full debut.
Incidentally, due to another recent rule change, John-Joe O’Toole will now not serve his suspension for tonight’s game and will instead miss Sunday’s televised league clash against MK Dons.
The rules have had to be re-written so many times for this competition that it almost feels like a different sport at times, and it’s another rule change which means Sixfields could witness a penalty shoot-out for the second successive Tuesday.
If the game ends level after 90 minutes, we will then have a shoot-out with the winner of that shoot-out awarded an extra point on top of the one gained for the draw.
It somehow seems unlikely that tonight’s game will attract quite the same interest as Northampton’s next midweek fixture.
Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Wycombe Wanderers 0