Fixture: Coventry City v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, August 27, 3pm kick-off
Venue: Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Forecast: 20c, showers
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Gaby Zakuani - injury doubt. Coventry City: Andy Rose, Jodi Jones, Marvin Sordell, Kwame Thomas, Chris Stokes - all out injured
Betting: Northampton 19/10, draw 12/5, Coventry 8/5
Form guide: Cobblers DDDD, Sky Blues: LLDD
Likely line-ups: Northampton (4-5-1): Smith, Moloney, Diamond, Zakuani, Buchanan, McCourt, Potter, O’Toole, Taylor, Gorre, Revell. Coventry (4-4-2): Charles Cook, Willis, Ricketts, Haynes, Harries, Reid. Lameiras, McCann, Gadzhev, Tudgay, Agyei
Man in the middle: Jeremy Simpson
Last time out: Northampton 2 (Diamond, Revell) West Bromwich Albion 2; Norwich City 6 Coventry City 1 (Lameiras)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, November 7, 2015 (FA Cup) - Coventry City 1 (Murphy) Northampton Town 2 (Diamond, Richards)
Record v Coventry City: P46 W19 D12 L15
Opposition view: Coventry boss Tony Mowbray: “At the moment we’re all feeling disappointed and frustrated and yet that will be forgotten pretty quickly if we get a victory at the weekend. That will be easier said than done because Northampton are on a long unbeaten run and they’ll have a mentality of digging in, not getting beat – they could be one of those teams like Burton last season who bounced through and kept going. It’s a big game and a tough test, especially after the Norwich defeat, but generally we’ve been pretty good in the league even if we haven’t picked up the rewards of our decent play. At some stage we’ve got to turn that into points and I’m pretty sure we will.”
Jeremy Casey’s preview: It is not quite 10 months since the Cobblers and 3,000 visiting supporters rolled up at the Ricoh Arena for last season’s FA Cup first round tie at Coventry City - and it’s fair to say the fortunes of both clubs since then have differed dramatically.
For the Cobblers, it has been a more or less constant upward curve - after a very dramatic initial dip!
The club survived the very real threat of going out of business in the weeks immediately after that memorable 2-1 win at Coventry on November 7 last year, but by the end of the same month, Kelvin Thomas had come to the rescue and the club was safe.
On the pitch, the team had already started to click into top gear ahead of the short trip across the Warwickshire border, even through they were playing without being paid.
The squad continued to excel and simply went through those gears in the months that followed, with Chris Wilder leading the team to 99 points and the Sky Bet League Two title
Indeed, the Cobblers have lost just twice in all competitions since the FA Cup clash at Coventry, at home to Portsmouth on December 19, and then 3-0 at Milton Keynes Dons in the FA Cup third round on January 15.
There was a change of manager in the summer with Rob Page replacing Wilder, and Town have yet to be beaten in six matches this season.
It has been a tale of record-breaking success at Sixfields, and it is fair to say the Cobblers are very much a club on the up.
The opposite can be said of the Sky Blues.
At the time of November’s FA Cup date, Tony Mowbray’s Coventry were in contention for the Sky Bet League One title.
They were in form, scoring goals, and winning matches on a regular basis - but their key men were loanees, and after that defeat to the Cobblers, the wheels started to come off.
Once goals of Newcastle loan man Adam Armstrong dried up after Christmas, Coventry slipped out of the promotion picture to finish the season disappointingly in mid-table.
The summer saw plenty of players leave the Ricoh, but not many coming in, and the team has struggled to get going this season, and the natives are restless.
The Sky Blues are without a win this campaign, were battered 6-1 by Norwich City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night, and are currently in the bottom four of league one.
Perhaps more worryingly, the off-field problems that have plagued the club for years are beginning to resurface, with unpopular owners SISU still involved with all sorts of legal disputes, meaning the club’s future at the Ricoh is once again in doubt, and all in all, the garden is far from rosy for Coventry City.
So, this has got to be a great time for the Cobblers to play the Sky Blues, right?
In theory, yes, especially with the Cobblers on a high following their EFL Cup win over West Bromwich Albion that set up that dream third round clash with Manchester United at Sixfields.
The shootout victory over the Baggies saw the Cobblers turn in their best performance of the season, and manager Page now has real decisions to make over selection following the impressive performances of Brendan Moloney, Lewin Nyatanga, Jak McCourt and Harry Beautyman.
Page is likely to revert to one in attack, with has to be the excellent Alex Revell - meaning new loan signing JJ Hooper will have to make do with a place on the bench - while Moloney should keep his place at right-back if he is fit, and McCourt is likely to play the central midfield holding role again.
The balance of the team was good against West Brom, and Page won’t want to alter things too much as he himself said the performance ‘was a progression’, although Alfie Potter could return on the right instead of Beautyman.
The Cobblers are still unbeaten this season, and haven’t lost an away league game since last October, but they need to be on their guard at the Ricoh Arena.
The hosts may be winless, and may have only scored one league goal this season, but the hard facts are they are only two points behind Northampton in the league one table, and have scored just one goal less.
Reports suggest they have played some decent football this season, but have struggled in front of goal, and this is not a game the Cobblers can afford to take lightly.
If Town show the same application, control and skill as they did against the Baggies in midweek, then the Cobblers could well claim that first league win of the season.
If they don’t, then Coventry are more than capable of taking advantage and breaking their own duck.
Prediction: Coventry City 1 Northampton Town 2