Fixture: AFC Wimbledon v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Tuesday, September 29, 7.45pm kick-off
Forecast: 15C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Wimbledon: Karleigh Osborne (suspended), Will Nightingale (groin), Tom Elliott (knee). Cobblers: David Buchanan (leg), Brendan Moloney (knee), Rod McDonald (knee), Ryan Cresswell (knee), Paul Corry (knee), Ricky Holmes (back), Jason Taylor (suspended – 3 of 4).
Betting: Wimbledon 6/4, draw 9/4, Northampton 15/8
Form guide: Wimbledon LWDDLW, Cobblers DWWLWD
Likely line-ups: Wimbledon (4-4-2): Shea; Francomb, Fuller, Robinson, Meades; Rigg, Bulman, Reeves, Barcham; Azeez, Akinfenwa. Northampton (4-4-1-1): Smith; Furlong, Diamond, Brisley, Buchanan; Potter, Watson, Byrom, Adams; Hoskins; Richards
Man in the middle: Andy Haines has taken charge of five Football League games this season, dishing out 21 yellow cards and one red. He last refed Northampton in December 2014 when the Cobblers lost 2-1 at Tranmere.
Last time out: Luton Town 2 (Marriott 2) AFC Wimbledon 0; Northampton 1 (Calvert-Lewin) Leyton Orient 1 (Cox)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, April 3, 2015 – AFC Wimbledon 2 (Rigg, Reeves) Northampton Town 2 (Gray 2)
Opposition view: Ahead of tonight’s clash, Wimbledon boss Neal Ardley told the club’s website: “We will focus hard on being on the front foot. All I can really focus on is the team and us being mentally and physically strong. We want to have a game plan and know what we are trying to achieve on the ball. We will try and do that again on the night.
“Northampton are a good team and they are in a decent run of form. The feedback from teams that they have played has been very positive about them. They are expected to be in and around the play-offs. Chris Wilder has recruited well, but every team is stronger this season.”
Cobblers connection: Northampton’s summer recruit Alfie Potter spent two separate spells with the Dons. The first came in 2008 when he joined on loan from Peterborough, scoring one goal in four games, before returning to Wimbledon in January of this year after leaving Oxford United by mutual consent. He netted once in 13 games before signing for the Cobblers in May.
James Heneghan’s preview: Both of these two teams come into tonight’s game with something of a defensive quandary.
Northampton’s injury woes are well-documented but Wimbledon have problems of their own with Will Nightingale out injured and his replacement, Karleigh Osborne, suspended following a red card against Luton Town at the weekend.
That could see George Francomb shifted to right-back with Barry Fuller moving to centre-back.
Neal Ardley is, however, boosted by the return of winger Andy Barcham and striker Lyle Taylor, while Tom Elliott remains sidelined.
It’s almost impossible to predict what team Chris Wilder will field and if training is anything like as catastrophic as last week, Northampton will struggle to field 11 players, let alone seven substitutes.
It will be a tough task for Zander Diamond to play another 90 minutes having just returned from a five-week lay-off but there are very few other options with Ryan Cresswell and Rod McDonald both out.
Evan Horwood is only fit enough to play a maximum of 15 minutes so Wilder will be desperate to have David Buchanan fit after the defender was forced out of Saturday’s draw against Leyton Orient. If not, Joel Byrom will be moved to left-back with John-Joe O’Toole in line for just his second start of the season.
The Cobblers will have to be on their guard right until the final whistle tonight with Wimbledon developing a habit of scoring late goals this season. Eight of the Dons’ 12 points chalked up so far this campaign have come thanks to goals scored in the final 15 minutes.
The Kingston-based side began with three defeats from their opening four League Two games but just two defeats in the following six sees them currently occupy 15th place from nine matches – the same position they finished at the end of the 2014/15 season.
The omens bode well for Northampton with Wimbledon yet to beat the Cobblers in eight meetings since reforming in 2002, but as Dagenham & Redbridge proved earlier this month, past record counts for very little on the day and given their mounting injury problems, any positive result tonight would be seen as a decent outcome.
Prediction: Wimbledon 1 Northampton 1