James Heneghan’s Northampton Town v Cambridge United preview

U's boss Shaun Derry
U's boss Shaun Derry

Fixture: Northampton Town v Cambridge United, Checkatrade Trophy

Date/time: Tuesday, August 29, 7.45pm kick-off

Venue: Sixfields

Forecast: 17C, cloudy

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Aaron Phillips (thigh), Sam Foley (ankle), Sam Hoskins (knee). United: Kyle Howkins (hamstring), David Amoo (hamstring), Jabo Ibehre (rib)

Betting: Northampton 21/20, draw 13/5, Cambridge 12/5

Form guide: Cobblers LLLLL, United WDLLL

Man in the middle: John Brooks

Last time out: Northampton 1 (Revell) Peterborough 4; Cambridge 0 Morecambe 0

Most recent meeting: Saturday, March 12, 2016 – Northampton 1 (Marquis) Cambridge 1 (Spencer)

Record v Cambridge: P36 W14 D9 L13

Opposition view: “I’ll make changes again because I think this competition really allows us to have a look at the squad,” U’s boss Shaun Derry told Cambridge News. “We did that last year and we managed to progress in the competition. We’ll do it again and you’ll see a different type of team, but I’m expecting that level of performance that I witnessed on Saturday.”

James Heneghan’s preview: The Checkatrade Trophy, or Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, or whatever it’s called, does not particularly resonate with fans but, given the context of Northampton’s problems so far this season, Tuesday’s first group stage game takes on extra significance.

Sure, whether or not the Cobblers go on to win the competition is perhaps not at the forefront of many people’s minds, but after five straight defeats, the latest of which came in such disappointing fashion against rivals Peterborough on Saturday, it’s essential they get a win on the board sooner rather than later.

Tonight’s home clash with League Two Cambridge United, the first of three group stage games with Peterborough and Southampton U21s to come, allows them an opportunity to do so.

The competition has undergone some minor tweaks from last season’s much-maligned format. The key changes for this year include more prize money, regionalisation until the quarter-final stage and alteration to team selection to allow clubs more freedom when picking their sides.

The amendments have been made following the apathy felt towards the competition last season, which resulted in poor attendances and games played in eerily empty stadiums, though it’s difficult to imagine it will be much different this time around.

And the farcical situation of having a penalty shoot-out to decide who wins an extra point, even if both competing teams are out, remains.

Predicting either the formation or starting line-up for this game is something of a minefield. Changes are expected but, equally, Edinburgh’s eagerness to notch that first win may well mean a stronger team than what you would usually see in this competition.

That said, this game does provide an opportunity for the likes of George Smith, Regan Poole, Leon Lobjoit and Joe Iaciafano to get some much-needed game-time having barely featured so far.

Prediction: Northampton 2 Cambridge 1