James Heneghan’s Northampton Town v Peterborough United preview

Bad memories: Peterborough nicked a last-gasp win in this fixture last season
Bad memories: Peterborough nicked a last-gasp win in this fixture last season

Fixture: Northampton Town v Peterborough United, Sky Bet League One

Date/time: Saturday, August 26, 3pm kick-off

Venue: Sixfields

Forecast: 22C, cloudy

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Chris Long (hamstring), Aaron Phillips (thigh), Sam Foley (ankle), Sam Hoskins (knee). Posh: Callum Chettle (hamstring), Ricky Miller (suspended), Jermaine Anderson (knee)

Betting: Northampton 13/10, draw 5/2, Peterborough 19/10

Form guide: Cobblers LLLL, Posh WWLW

Possible line-ups: Northampton (3-4-1-2): Cornell; Barnett, A Taylor, Pierre; Moloney, Crooks, Grimes, Buchanan; Waters; Long, Richards. Peterborough (3-4-1-2): Bond; Tafazolli, Baldwin, Taylor; Edwards, Grant, Doughty, Da Silva Lopes; Maddison; Morias, Marriott

Man in the middle: Roger East

Last time out: Charlton 4 Northampton 1 (Richards); Peterborough 2 (Marriott 2) Rotherham 1

Grant McCann

Grant McCann

Most recent meeting: Saturday, November 19, 2016 – Northampton Town 0 Peterborough United 1 (Forrester)

Record v Peterborough: P66 W20 D17 L29

Opposition view: “I believe Northampton have recruited well in the summer,” said Posh boss Grant McCann this week. “They’ve spent money and they’ve offered some decent contracts. They will be a much stronger team this season when they settle down.” You can read McCann’s full views here.

Cobblers connection: Northampton have lost two of their Peterborough connections over the past few months with Gabriel Zakuani and Harry Beautyman both departing, albeit in different circumstances. Zakuani, who became a firm favourite at London Road having played well over 200 times across two separate spells, was in talks to stay at Sixfields before leaving for Gillingham, while Beautyman now finds himself at League Two Stevenage having struggled to establish himself at both Peterborough and the Cobblers.

This is no time for the Cobblers to be wallowing in self-pity because after Peterborough, they face another team who have won three from three in Wigan Athletic, followed by equally tricky home games against Portsmouth and Doncaster.

James Heneghan’s preview: A fiery local derby is always a surefire way to get the juices flowing regardless of outside circumstances but given the respective positions these two teams find themselves in, Saturday’s eagerly-awaited clash at Sixfields carries extra significance.

While the Cobblers have stuttered and stumbled their way to no points from three games, Peterborough United, one of three clubs who boast a pristine record, have been busy establishing themselves as one of the early frontrunners in Sky Bet League One.

With three wins and eight goals scored, Posh could not have made a much better start to the season and only one goal separates them from occupying top spot at this early stage, just as only one goal is preventing Northampton from propping up the division.

So this game provides an opportune time for the Cobblers to turn their floundering form around, not that it’ll be easy for them against an Jack Marriott-inspired Peterborough; the former Luton striker has scored five goals in his last two matches.

Town will certainly be desperate to right the wrongs of their meetings with Posh last season, both of which are best of forgotten for those of a Cobblers persuasion given that one ended in a 3-0 spanking and the other involved last-minute heartbreak.

But while there is plenty of negativity and pessimism swirling round, it’s perhaps worth remembering that at this exact stage last year Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United had no points and sat bottom of Sky Bet League One, prompting several calls for the manager to be sacked – and we all know how that ended.

No one is pretending that this situation is the same, of course, but the point is a valid one: these are still incredibly early days and a couple of positive results can make all the difference.

But, that said, this is no time for the Cobblers to be wallowing in self-pity because after Peterborough, they face another team who have won three from three in Wigan Athletic, followed by equally tricky home games against Portsmouth and Doncaster.

That’s the reality of the relentless nature of this division; Town cannot afford to get cut adrift because it will not be easy to climb back upwards.

The major topic of debate over the past week has surrounded Edinburgh’s decision to play 3-5-2 and whether or not he should abandon it for a more conventional formation.

There is, or at least was, logic in his thinking behind 3-5-2 but given how badly they have struggled to adapt in this opening month, now is perhaps the time to go back to either 4-4-2 or 4-3-3.

The problem with that is the lack of natural wingers in the squad, aside from Daniel Powell. Sure, the likes of Billy Waters, Sam Hoskins and Leon Lobjoit could do a job out wide but then you run the risk of planting square pegs in round holes, which is never ideal.

So there is no easy solution, although Edinburgh’s comments in the week seem to suggest he intends to stick with three at the back for now. Whether or not that is wise will become clear at 5pm on Saturday.

On the injury front, John-Joe O’Toole’s continued absence remains frustrating and he’s been joined in the treatment room by defender Aaron Phillips and striker Chris Long, though the former could well be back for the visit of Peterborough.

Sam Hoskins and Sam Foley are edging ever nearer to a first-team return while Matt Grimes could be handed a full debut on Saturday and it may well be worth keeping an eye on in-form goalscorers Joe Iaciofano and Leon Lobjoit after both netted in Monday’s reserve team game against Chesterfield.

The irony of last week’s defeat to Charlton Athletic was that the Cobblers created more chances in that game alone than the previous two combined, yet it was arguably their worst overall performance and ended in a resounding 4-1 beating.

Given that Saturday’s game is likely to be a cagey, tense affair, taking your chances and scoring the first goal may well prove absolutely critical to the overall outcome.

Score first, win the game and suddenly the picture will be a much brighter one.

It’s easier said than done but a home game against your closest, fiercest rivals? Surely there is no better time for the Cobblers to spark their faltering season into life.

Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Peterborough United 1