Cobblers boss Curle playing down Burton's early season struggles

Cobblers boss Keith Curle says that Burton Albion's struggles so far are an indication of just how open and unpredictable Sky Bet League One is going to be this season.
John-Joe O'Toole is likely to start for Burton Albion against the CobblersJohn-Joe O'Toole is likely to start for Burton Albion against the Cobblers
John-Joe O'Toole is likely to start for Burton Albion against the Cobblers

The Brewers have endured a nightmare start to the campaign, and sit second from bottom in the table on a paltry seven points from their 12 league games to date.

They have managed just one solitary win in 18 matches this term, a 2-1 home win over Accrington Stanley way back on September 19, and have claimed just four points from four draws in their past 10 league one matches.

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It has been something of a baptism of fire for manager Jake Buxton, who took the reins in May following the surprise departure of Nigel Clough, who had been in charge of the Brewers for more than five years.

The Cobblers were 4-2 winners at Burton in the FA Cup in JanuaryThe Cobblers were 4-2 winners at Burton in the FA Cup in January
The Cobblers were 4-2 winners at Burton in the FA Cup in January

Burton have been one of the success stories of recent years.

They were were a Championship club as recently as May, 2018 and finished comfortably in mid-table last season, but they are now in serious danger of sliding all the way to back to the bottom tier of the EFL if they don't buck their ideas up.

But Curle isn't reading too much into their poor start.

"If you have a look at the division, there are probably eight teams that you would say would be in and around where they are now," said the Cobblers boss.

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"Then the others, over any two or three game period, the rest of the division can chop and change.

"You look at Accrington, they get back-to-back wins (they beat Swindon on Tuesday after beating the Cobblers on Saturday) and suddenly they are up the heady heights, and I think if they win their games in hand they go second or third."

Saturday is a huge game for both sides.

Cobblers know that if they can win it then they should pull clearer of the relegation zone, and they will definitely be seven points ahead of Burton, who are set to include former Cobblers talisman John-Joe O'Toole in their starting line-up.

The Brewers for their part know that if they can nick a victory then they will move to within just a point of Town, and could even get out of the bottom four if other results go their way.

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For an early season match there is a lot riding on it, but Curle played its significance down.

"Every game between now and the end of the season, and every game right from the start of the season, is a six-point, or three-pointer whatever you want to call it," said the Town boss.

"Every game is vital, not only for the result but also for building confidence and building that little bit of momentum that every team needs."

But he made it clear he wants his team to show more attacking potency than they have so far this season.

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Only rock-bottom Wigan have scored fewer than the Cobblers' 10 league one goals this term, and Curle said: "On Saturday we need to show a good defensive shape, but also have an eye on knowing how to win games.

"We did it consistently last season, we were an attacking threat, and we need to get back into that mindset of having a good understanding, a good shape, and being a threat.

"Every opposition, even when you go up a division, has strengths and weaknesses and we have to identify the areas where we can cause Burton problems."

The Cobblers were 4-2 winners on their most recent trip to the Pirelli Stadium, with that victory coming in the FA Cup third round in January.

The sides haven't met in the league since April, 2015, when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's Brewers were 3-1 winners over Chris Wilder's Town team.