Fixture: Bury v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, April 22, 3pm kick-off
Venue: Gigg Lane
Forecast: 9, Cloudy
Outs and doubts: Bury: Craig Jones (calf), Andrew Tutte (hamstring), Nathan Cameron (knee), Zeli Ismail (hamstring), Danny Mayor (hip). Cobblers: John-Joe O’Toole (suspended), David Buchanan (suspended), Luke Williams (hamstring), Gabriel Zakuani (hamstring), Sam Hoskins (knee), Gregg Wylde (injury)
Betting: Bury 17/20, draw 13/5, Northampton 3/1
Form guide: Bury DLLLDD, Cobblers DLLDDL
Avg. goals scored/conceded per game: Bury 1.3/1.6, Northampton 1.4/1.6
Likely line-ups: Bury (5-3-2): Murphy; Moore, Barnett, Kay, Burgess, Leigh; Caddis, Burgess, Tutte; Pope, Vaughan. Northampton (4-4-2): Smith; Moloney, Diamond, Nyatanga, Phillips; Taylor, P Anderson, McWilliams, Boateng; Smith, Richards
Man in the middle: Nigel Miller
Last time out: Bolton 0 Bury 0; Northampton 1 (Richards) Shrewsbury 1 (Sadler)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, October 29, 2016 – Northampton 3 (Richards 2, Taylor) Bury 2 (Miller, Ismail)
Record v Bury: P60 W22 D15 L23
Cobblers connection: David Buchanan’s remarkable run of successive starts was always going to end eventually but it is a shame his red card against Shrewsbury has prevented him from returning to a former club. Born in Rochdale, Buchanan started out as a trainee at Bury and proceeded to make more than 200 appearances for the club between 2005 and 2010. His departure wasn’t particularly amicable and when negotiations on a new contract broke down, he moved north of the border and signed for Scottish club Hamilton Academical. But he was back in England just a year later and following a brief spell at Tranmere Rovers, he spent three years at Preston North End and upon his release in 2015, he was snapped up by the Cobblers.
James Heneghan’s preview: Easter Monday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury Town delayed confirmation of Northampton’s survival for another few days at least but, come 5pm this Saturday, any lingering doubt should surely be removed.
There’s a variety of scenarios that could see the Cobblers clinch safety this weekend. The first and most preferable is to beat Bury and not have to worry about events elsewhere.
Even a draw would be enough given the current five-point gap back to the Shakers but should they lose, it only takes a defeat for one of Port Vale or Shrewsbury to secure their spot in League One for another 12 months.
Even then, it could still be assured if Vale fail to beat Walsall in their game-in-hand next Tuesday.
If all those permutations work against Northampton, we could be in for an unnecessarily nervy final day against Gillingham next weekend.
That requires an unlikely set of results but whatever unfolds over the next 10 days, the Cobblers will have a big say in who stays up and who goes down this season
Both their remaining two opponents are currently in relegation peril and the intriguing prospect of Justin Edinburgh potentially sending his old club down on the final day remains a possibility.
Like Paul Hurst at Shrewsbury, Lee Clark’s appointment as Bury boss sparked a brief resurgence and almost took them out of trouble, but the goals have dried up and as a result, they still require at least one more win to escape the drop.
They’ve scored just once in their past six games, losing three in the process to remain hovering just one place above Port Vale, who currently occupy the final bottom four spot.
Indeed, with not a single win between them in the past six games and only five goals scored, the recent form book does not make for pleasant reading for either Bury or Northampton ahead of their meeting.
Clark has helped to shore up a previously leaky defence but that has come at a cost at the other end, although their difficult season has not prevented striker James Vaughan from netting 22 goals, the second most in League One.
For the Cobblers, the absence of a whole host of first-choice players will give others an opportunity to impress before the season’s out.
John-Joe O’Toole and David Buchanan, whose record run of successive starts will end on 106, are both suspended for the trip to Gigg Lane while Luke Williams and Gregg Wylde have joined Sam Hoskins and Gabriel Zakuani in the treatment room.
That may pave the way for a first start for Shaun McWilliams, who has performed well as a substitute in recent weeks, and Jak McCourt or Hiram Boateng could also be in for rare game-time.
Whatever team Justin Edinburgh picks will have to improve on Monday’s disappointing showing against Shrewsbury when the Cobblers were lacklustre and fortunate to escape with a point.
Bury are another team desperately fighting for their lives, and if Edinburgh’s men do not raise their standards, they will once again be relying on results elsewhere.
Prediction: Bury 1 Northampton Town 1