Fixture: Northampton Town v Grimsby Town, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Saturday, November 24, 3pm kick-off
Venue: PTS Academy Stadium
Forecast: 8C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Junior Morias (suspended – 2/3), Leon Barnett, Dean Bowditch, Matt Crooks. Grimsby: Reece Hall-Johnson, Elliott Whitehouse
Betting: Northampton 4/6, draw 14/15, Grimsby 4/1
Form guide: Cobblers DLWWWW, Mariners WLWLLL
Possible line-ups: Northampton (4-4-2): Cornell; Odoffin, Turnbull, Pierre, Buchanan; Waters, Foley, McWilliams, Hoskins; van Veen, Williams. Grimsby (4-4-2): McKeown; Hendrie, Davies, Collins, Fox; Pringle, Hessenthaler, Clifton, Vernam; Thomas, Rose.
Man in the middle: Trevor Kettle – 67 yellows and two reds in 19 games for the controversial Kettle this season.
Last time out: Exeter 2 Northampton 2 (Waters, Stockley OG); Grimsby 1 (Rose) Crawley 0
Most recent meeting: Saturday, December 7, 2013, FA Cup – Grimsby Town 2 (Pearson, McLaughlin) Northampton Town 0
Record v Grimsby: P36 W16 D7 L13
Opposition view: “It’s up to us to try and make sure we perform to our best level, and if we do that then we give ourselves a chance of getting a result,” said Mariners boss Michael Jolley this week. “We definitely want to try and be creative and have good movement, good passing, and good attacking play when we have the ball.”
Cobblers connection: Northampton could well find themselves up against a familiar face when they take on Grimsby Town this weekend. Striker JJ Hooper was not heralded as a great success during neither of his short two spells at Sixfields. He played five times without a goal to his name as a free transfer in 2013/14 and then, having had stints at Alfreton, Havant, Cheltenham and Port Vale in-between, netted only once while on loan for Rob Page’s Cobblers two years ago. The 25-year-old seems to have found a settled home at Blundell Park after finishing a more productive campaign with a hat-trick last season, though he’s managed just two goals in 19 appearances this term.
There was a time not so long ago when the Cobblers could not buy a win at home, but they go into tomorrow’s fixture against Grimsby Town unbeaten in six and bidding for a fifth consecutive victory at the PTS Stadium.
James Heneghan’s preview: There was a time not so long ago when the Cobblers could hardly buy a win of any kind at home, but they go into tomorrow’s fixture against Grimsby Town unbeaten in six and bidding for a fifth consecutive victory at the PTS Stadium.
Triumphant over Forest Green Rovers, Oldham Athletic, Crewe Alexandra and Fulham U21s, Town will be confident of adding an erratic Mariners side to their growing list of victims as their swift ascent towards the upper echelons of League Two gathers pace.
From a lowly 21st at the time of Keith Curle’s arrival to a more satisfying 14th eight weeks later, Northampton are one of the division’s form teams and now must make the most of their new-found momentum ahead of three league fixtures in a week, with tricky but winnable trips to Newport County and Crawley Town to follow after Grimsby.
Managed by former Burnley U23 head coach Michael Jolley, who replaced the sacked Russell Slade back in March, Grimsby’s season has been plagued by inconsistency and a failure to build on the occasional impressive win.
The Mariners have claimed some big scalps this season, including table-toppers MK Dons in the FA Cup two weeks ago and high-flying Colchester United in the league last month, but 10 defeats – only Macclesfield have more in the division – have them currently sitting 20th, four points behind Northampton and four points above the relegation zone.
But those victories over Dons and Colchester suggest they have the quality and potential to hurt this weekend’s host, meaning Curle and his team, with one defeat in eight league matches, must remain grounded and focused on the back of their last-ditch 2-2 draw with Exeter City.
It’s unlikely Curle will allow his players to become complacent, especially now that competition for places is hotting up with several players on their way back from injury.
They include club captain Ash Taylor and full-back Shay Facey although their route back into the side might not be so straightforward. Once permanent fixtures in Town’s defence, the form of Aaron Pierre, Hakeem Odoffin and Jordan Turnbull has given Curle some serious food for thought.
Sam Foley, finally available again after serving what was effectively a four-game suspension, could well find it a little easier to win his place back in central midfield where Town have looked a little loose and a little ragged in conceding three at Lincoln City and two at Exeter. Foley’s industry and tenacity has been missed.
Junior Morias serves the second of his three-game suspension so misses this weekend, Dean Bowditch and the influential Matt Crooks remain doubts while Kevin van Veen’s fitness will be closely monitored after he played through injury at St James Park.
It is unlikely to be a stroll against Grimsby on Saturday – it rarely ever is in this division – but with a competitive, in-form squad at Curle’s disposal, the Cobblers should be confident of adding another three points to their growing tally come 5pm Saturday.
Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Grimsby Town 1