Fixture: Barnsley v Northampton Town, EFL Cup
Date/time: Tuesday, August 9, 7.45pm kick-off
Venue: Oakwell Stadium
Forecast: 14C, sunny spells
Outs and doubts: Barnsley: Sam Winnall (hamstring). Cobblers: Brendan Moloney (groin), Raheem Hanley (calf), Jak McCourt (shoulder)
Betting: Tykes 21/20, draw 12/5, Cobblers 13/5
Possible Northampton line-up: Smith; Phillips, Diamond, Zakuani, Buchanan; D’Ath, O’Toole, Byrom, Gorre; Hoskins, Revell
Last Barnsley line-up: Davies, Yiadom, Roberts, Mawson, White, Hammill, Scowen, Hourihane (c), Kent, Bradshaw, Winnall
Man in the middle: Carl Boyeson
Last time out: Ipswich 4 (G Ward 3, McGoldrick) Barnsley 2 (Hourihane, Watkins); Northampton Town 1 (Chris Neal OG) Fleetwood 1 (Nirennold)
Most recent meeting: FA Cup, Saturday, November 13, 2004 - Northampton 1 (McGleish) Barnsley 0
Record v Barnsley: P23 W13 D4 L6
Opposition view: Reds Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom told the club’s website: “An opening day draw and a few good signings, they’ll be tough. Any team going up will be tough, Northampton are bringing their qualities from last season up a league, we know it’s going to be tough and they’ll see us as a scalp as well now, it’s nothing to lose for them.”
Cobblers connection: Having only signed for the Cobblers on Monday, Lewin Nyatanga is unlikely to be allowed to play against his parent club tomorrow, while former Cobblers star Ivan Toney is now at Shrewsbury following two loan spells at Barnsley. Toney, who became the youngest player to represent Northampton in 2012, has endured an injury-related stop-start time since signing for Newcastle from Sixfields, but having spend much of last season on loan at the Tykes, he signed for Shrewsbury on loan this week.
James Heneghan’s preview: With so many games crammed into the opening few weeks of the season, the EFL Cup is not always the most welcome of distractions, but tonight’s tie at Oakwell does at least provide Rob Page with the opportunity to experiment and learn more about the squad he has at his disposal.
That’s not to suggest he’ll be taking this game or competition lightly because wins breed confidence like nothing else and the earlier you can get that first victory under your belt, the better for all concerned.
But after recruiting a host of new faces over the summer, Page will still be trying to work out his most effective system as well as looking to forge partnerships among certain players across the pitch as he attempts to maximise the talent he has at his disposal.
Likewise, Tuesday’s clash is another opportunity for the players to further familiarise themselves with how Page wants them to play, especially for those new signings who have barely featured since arriving at the club.
The more they play together, the quicker the fluency and understanding will come and with competition for places as strong as ever, games like this one present players with a precious chance to impress the new boss and stake their claim for a regular place in the side.
Changes from Saturday’s team are inevitable but just how many are made and who comes in is largely dependant on injury and fitness.
Sam Hoskins, Alfie Potter, Lawson D’Ath, Rod McDonald and Joel Byrom were all key players in last year’s success but all missed out against Fleetwood so they will be eyeing much-needed game-time to get their respective seasons up and running.
Much like Northampton, Barnsley too won promotion last season and they will also be hoping to notch their first win of the season this evening after missing out at the weekend when going down 4-2 at Ipswich Town in their Championship opener.
On the face of it, this game might not appear the most important Northampton will play this season but one positive result can often go a long way to getting on a roll – and there is no better example of that than tonight’s opponents who romped to promotion last season after sitting bottom of League One in November.
Victory, though, will be no mean feat against another club who are very much on the up.
Prediction: Barnsley 2 Northampton 0