Fixture: Northampton Town v Southend United, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, September 24, 3pm kick-off
Forecast: 20C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Southend: Michael Timlin (hamstring), Anthony Wordsworth (hamstring), Anton Ferdinand (hamstring), Nile Ranger (ankle)
Betting: Northampton 10/11, draw 5/2, Southend 3/1
Form guide: Cobblers LLWWLD, Shrimpers WLDWLD
Likely line-ups: Northampton (4-1-4-1): Smith; Moloney, Diamond, Zakuani, Buchanan; McCourt; Anderson, O’Toole, Taylor, Gorre; Revell. Southend (4-4-2): Oxley; White, Thompson, Barrett, Coker; McGlashan, Demetriou, Leonard, Atkinson; McLaughlin, Mooney
Man in the middle: Ross Joyce
Last time out: Northampton Town 1 (Revell) Manchester United 3 (Carrick, Herrera, Rashford); Southend United 3 (Mooney, McLaughlin, O’Neil) Millwall 1 (O’Brien)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, January 3, 2015 – Northampton 1 (D’Ath) Southend 1 (Coulthirst)
Record v Southend: P116 W44 D28 L44
Opposition view: Speaking to the club website ahead of tomorrow’s game, Shrimpers boss Phil Brown said: “We’re coming up against a team that had gone 31-games undefeated. I know Chris Wilder had been in charge for a long period of that but Rob Page has now taken over the mantle. But now all of a sudden they have got back-to-back defeats on Saturday against Chesterfield and Wednesday against Manchester United.
“I’m not going to say for one minute that we are catching them at the right time, but hopefully the freshness of the way we have dealt with our players this week will stand us in good stead and hopefully produce the same kind of performance from an energy perspective as what we did last Saturday.”
Cobblers connection: Centre-back Luke Prosser could have been lining up for either of these two sides this weekend had fate taken a different route. Signed up by Southend in 2010, Prosser joined Northampton on loan for the back half of last season and he may have joined permanently had Chris Wilder remained in charge. It was not to be, though, and neither did he remain at Roots Hall, instead the 28-year-old moved to Colchester United in June.
James Heneghan’s preview: Southend may well be the lesser-known of the two Uniteds to visit Sixfields this week but that doesn’t mean tomorrow’s clash carries any less importance in the context of Northampton’s season.
Because when all is said and done, it’s games like this that will ultimately determine whether or not this season is deemed as a successful one.
The exertions of midweek may have taken their toll on the Cobblers, particularly given the game took place on Wednesday instead of the usual Tuesday, although Rob Page does at least have the option of bringing in fresh legs.
Paul Anderson, who was cup-tied in midweek, and John-Joe O’Toole should return to the starting line-up, but Adam Smith is unlikely to lose his place in goal despite Wednesday’s horror show.
After such a sensational start to his Cobblers career, Smith is yet to really replicate those heady heights he hit in that first two months or so, and Page will be hoping his goalkeeper’s confidence hasn’t been knocked too badly following the costly errors on Wednesday.
As for the rest of his team, Page seems to have found a settled and balanced starting 11 which has impressed in recent weeks – despite the defeat to Chesterfield – and with their next three games all against sides currently below them in the League One standings, there’s a window of opportunity for Town to cement their place in the top half, or perhaps even higher given how congested the table still is.
By contrast, Phil Brown’s Southend have experienced a somewhat shaky start with three defeats in their first five games but last week’s 3-1 win over Millwall – just their second win of the season - has lifted spirits and offered some much-needed encouragement, although they do remain in the relegation zone, for now at least.
With no midweek game, the Shrimpers should – in theory – be the fresher side at Sixfields tomorrow but after seeing their magnificent unbeaten run end last weekend, Northampton will be desperate to bounce straight back.
Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Southend United 1