James Heneghan’s Northampton Town v Crawley Town preview

Tempers boiled over when Cobblers played at Crawley in December as Ollie Palmer saw red for elbowing Aaron Pierre. Pictures: Pete Norton/Getty Images
Tempers boiled over when Cobblers played at Crawley in December as Ollie Palmer saw red for elbowing Aaron Pierre. Pictures: Pete Norton/Getty Images

Fixture: Northampton Town v Crawley Town, Sky Bet League Two

Date/time: Saturday, February 16, 3pm kick-off

Venue: PTS Academy Stadium

Forecast: 12C, sunny spells

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: George Cox (ankle), Sam Foley (back), Marvin Sordell (knee). Crawley: Jimmy Smith, Ibrahim Meite

Betting: Northampton 8/11, draw 11/4, Crawley 7/2

Form guide: Cobblers DWLDLW, Crawley LDWLLL

Possible line-ups: Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Goode, Taylor, Pierre; Facey, Buchanan, Turnbull, McWilliams, O’Toole; A Williams, Morias. Crawley (3-5-2): Morris; Young, Sesay, Dallison-Lisbon; Payne, McNerney, Francomb, Camara, Gambin; Palmer, Morais.

Man in the middle: Nick Kinseley

Last time out: Lincoln 1 Northampton 1 (Pierre); Crawley 0 Oldham 3

Gabriele Cioffi

Gabriele Cioffi

Most recent meeting: Saturday, December 8, 2018 – Crawley 0 Northampton 1 (van Veen)

Record v Crawley: P6 W3 D0 L3

James Heneghan’s preview: An opportunity awaits for Northampton and Crawley this weekend with both clubs looking to banish all talk of relegation with three points when they lock horns at the PTS.

Separated by just two points and a solitary place in the current League Two standings, the two teams have experienced similar seasons, both flirting with the drop throughout without ever really being dragged into the dogfight.

Kevin van Veen scored the winner at the Broadfield Stadium

Kevin van Veen scored the winner at the Broadfield Stadium

That said, Crawley’s five-game winless run in December had fans fearing the worst and left them precariously placed heading into the New Year, only for back-to-back wins over Colchester and Cheltenham to halt their alarming slide.

Crawley’s poor run of form during December was started by a 1-0 defeat to the Cobblers when Ollie Palmer’s two minutes of madness cost his team dear and allowed Kevin van Veen to score from the spot and earn Keith Curle’s men a first win in six.

Palmer subsequently served a five-game suspension; three for his unceremonious elbow on Town defender Aaron Pierre and an extra two for being found guilty of using foul and abusive language towards a match official.

The Red Devils have the chance of sweet revenge over Northampton when they reconvene this weekend and Palmer’s battle with Pierre might well be one keeping an eye on.

Like their hosts, it’s only in these past two or three weeks when Crawley have properly given themselves breathing space over the teams below them, mostly thanks victory at Swindon followed by a draw against high-flying, free-scoring Bury, though they were beaten 3-0 at home to Oldham last time out.

The Cobblers return to home soil seeking to make amends for their forgettable last outing at the PTS – a 4-0 drubbing to Colchester United – and also with the aim of building on recent good work on the road.

Their battling win at Tranmere Rovers last Tuesday and Saturday’s controversial 1-1 draw with Lincoln has lifted them 10 points above the drop, and given the kind nature of upcoming fixtures, there’s now an opportunity to go from fearing a relegation fight to sitting comfortably in mid-table.

Cule’s assistant Colin West had little to report on the injury front this week. Marvin Sordell, George Cox and Sam Foley are likely to again miss tomorrow’s game, but otherwise Town are in good health and well-placed to collect their just second home win since early November.

Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Crawley 1