Fixture: Scunthorpe United v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, February 17, 3pm kick-off
Venue: Glanford Park
Forecast: 8C, sunny spells
Outs and doubts: Scunthorpe: Marnick Vermijl (knock). Cobblers: Hildeberto Pereira (suspended – 1/1), Kevin van Veen (dead leg), Shay Facey (hamstring), Aaron Phillips (thigh), Aaron Pierre (thigh)
Betting: Scunthorpe 3/4, draw 14/5, Northampton 7/2
Form guide: Iron DLWLDL, Cobblers LWLDWW
Possible line-ups: Scunthorpe (4-4-2): Gilks; Vermijl, McArdle, Wallace, Townsend; Holmes, Ojo, Bishop, Morris; Toney, Hopper. Northampton (4-4-1-1): O’Donnell; Moloney, Taylor, Turnbull, Bunney; Ariyibi, Grimes, Crooks, Powell; O’Toole; Long
Man in the middle: Andrew Madley
Last time out: Peterborough United 2 Scunthorpe United 2 (Toney, Yates); Northampton Town 1 (Taylor) Gillingham 2
Most recent meeting: Saturday, November 18, 2017 – Northampton Town 0 Scunthorpe United (Burgess, Holmes 2)
Record v Scunthorpe: P64 W21 D18 L25
Opposition view: “They are a good team and are well-organised,” said United assistant Neil McDonald on the Cobblers. “Every game is difficult leading to the end of the season. We will be well prepared for them, be ready for them and we are looking forward to the game to put into practice what we have been doing on the training ground.”
On Kevin van Veen’s return, he added: “We know of Kev’s qualities and we know his strengths. Certainly the back four and the midfield in front know all about what Kevin can do, and we’ll do all we can to make sure he has a tough game.”
Scunthorpe should not to be taken lightly. Having made the play-offs last season – narrowly missing out to Bradford in the semi-finals – Graham Alexander’s men, despite mixed recent form, are on course to repeat the feat this time around.
Cobblers connection: Injury may well rob Kevin van Veen of the chance of making a swift return to Glanford Park just weeks after leaving the club. Van Veen spent exactly three years at Scunthorpe United and scored 23 goals in 116 games across all competitions, including six in 12 prior his Sixfields switch. However, the opportunity of netting another goal at Glanford Park this weekend will depend on his fitness after picking up a dead leg against AFC Wimbledon. Another ex-Scunthorpe man who will be in the Cobblers team is Matt Crooks, who made 12 appearances in a short loan spell for the Iron last season. On the other side, former Town striker Ivan Toney is back at United for a second time and has two goals in his last three games.
James Heneghan’s preview: There are easier places to go than Scunthorpe United when you are a team desperate to bounce back from a disappointing defeat but, if this season has taught us anything, it’s that the Cobblers rarely follow the script.
The last time Town played so poorly at home prior to Tuesday’s defeat to Gillingham – beaten by Rochdale two weeks ago – they immediately followed it up with a fine away performance and excellent win at AFC Wimbledon. So after their dismal first-half display against Gillingham and disappointing 2-1 loss, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink will be hoping history repeats itself at Glanford Park this Saturday.
It will not be easy but they can draw inspiration from their recent efforts at Bradford City, who sit just below Scunthorpe in the standings, and title hopefuls Blackburn Rovers. On both of those occasions they upset the odds to emerge with a positive outcome.
Those two results plus the recent win over AFC Wimbledon means that, despite recent struggles at Sixfields, Northampton are currently in good form on the road
Scunthorpe, though, should not to be taken lightly. Having made the play-offs last season – narrowly missing out to Bradford in the semi-finals – Graham Alexander’s men, despite mixed recent form, are on course to repeat the feat this time around.
They have one win in eight games but drew 2-2 at fellow promotion hopefuls Peterborough United on Tuesday to keep themselves comfortably inside the play-offs, seven points above seventh place.
These two clubs of course know each pretty well having already met three times this campaign. After a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup first round, a 1-0 defeat in the subsequent replay and a 3-0 home loss in the league, the Cobblers have not scored not even scored, let alone won, against the Iron in those three meetings. They did, however, manage a 1-1 draw at Glanford Park last season despite having Matt Taylor sent off.
For this Saturday’s encounter between the two, there will be a lot of focus on Hasselbaink’s team selection. After receiving some criticism on Tuesday, it’ll be interesting to see how he reacts to Town’s below-par performance and how many changes he feels is necessary to right those wrongs.
John-Joe O’Toole is highly unlikely to be one of those players who pays the price but he may be moved back into a more advanced role after the Cobblers missed his physical presence and goalscoring instinct against Gillingham.
Moving Jordan Turnbull to left-back and bringing in Regan Poole or Leon Barnett alongside Ash Taylor is an option for Hasselbaink should he wish to tighten things up at the back, and if former Scunthorpe man Kevin van Veen remains out with a dead leg, Chris Long will lead the line again.
One man still waiting for his first Cobblers start is Gboly Ariyibi but that wait must surely come to an end this weekend after his vibrant off the bench on Tuesday when he provided Town’s main threat of a goal.
How a team bounces back from a poor result tells you plenty about their character and resilience. The Cobblers have already done it once this month, can they do so again at Glanford Park?
Prediction: Scunthorpe United 1 Northampton Town 1