James Heneghan’s Swindon Town v Northampton Town preview

OLD FRIENDS: Former Cobblers duo Jak McCourt and Marc Richards are currently on the books at Swindon, alongside Matt Taylor and Keshi Anderson
OLD FRIENDS: Former Cobblers duo Jak McCourt and Marc Richards are currently on the books at Swindon, alongside Matt Taylor and Keshi Anderson

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

Date/kick-off time: Saturday, October 6, 3pm kick-off

Venue: County Ground

Weather forecast: 11C, showers

Outs and doubts: Swindon: Michael Doughty (hip), Kaiyne Woolery (knee), Chris Robertson (ankle). Cobblers: Shaun McWilliams (ankle), Junior Morias (hamstring)

Betting: Swindon 29/20, draw 5/2, Northampton 2/1

Form guide: Robins LDWLWW, Cobblers DLDLLL

Possible line-ups: Swindon (4-3-3): McCormick; Woolfenden, Nelson, Lancashire, Taylor; Dunne, Diagouraga, Alzate; Anderson, Richards, Adebayo. Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Barnett, Taylor, Pierre; Facey, Foley, O’Toole, Crooks, Powell; Hoskins, Williams.

Man in the middle: Neil Hair

Last time out: Crewe 1 Swindon 0; Northampton 0 Bury 0

Most recent meeting: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 – Northampton Town 2 (Jones OG, O’Toole) Swindon Town 1 (Norris)

Record v Swindon Town: P101 W34 D20 L47

Opposition view: “Keith Curle’s teams are usually very resilient but there’s always an upward effect when the new manager comes in,” said Robins boss Phil Brown ahead of Saturday’s game. “I want to be more fluid in the attack - it may be a call for a different system and little tweaks. Teams have said that we’re difficult to play against and I don’t want to change that.”

Cobblers connections: Having once lined up together on the same pitch at the same time for the Cobblers, Swindon quartet Marc Richards, Keshi Anderson, Jak McCourt and Matt Taylor could all start against them this weekend. Anderson and Taylor signed for the Robins within a week of one another while Richards joined six months later followed by McCourt in the most recent transfer window.

Curle’s priority will be to tighten a defence that has leaked goals for fun of late. Two clean sheets in their last three games would have been a good place to start had Town not shipped four at Mansfield in-between, ultimately proving Dean Austin’s undoing.

On the other side, Northampton’s Jordan Turnbull and Andy Williams have both made over a century of appearances for Swindon, playing in the same team between 2014 and 2016.

James Heneghan’s preview: Tomorrow’s trip to Wiltshire and Phil Brown’s Swindon Town will be our first real opportunity to find out how Keith Curle’s Cobblers are shaping up.

Tuesday’s goalless draw with Bury gave us a few pointers and little else but now that Curle has taken several training sessions and spent more time getting to know his new players, how Town perform and the way in which they go about their business at the County Ground will be enlightening.

Curle’s priority will be to tighten a defence that has leaked goals for fun of late. Two clean sheets in their last three games would have been a good place to start had Town not shipped four at Mansfield in-between, ultimately proving Dean Austin’s undoing.

Brought in to alleviate growing relegation fears, Curle has already made one radical change when he switched to 3-5-2 for Tuesday’s game and it would be a surprise if he did not stick with it tomorrow.

It’s a system that, on paper, suits the squad at his disposal, what with the strength through the middle, especially in central midfield, allied to the lack of genuine wide players. It should also help to add a little more solidity at the back.

Cobblers were indeed more solid and less flaky against the Shakers, bar a nervous start, but still the problems in the final third persist where it’s now one goal in six games - and that came from the penalty spot.

Swindon too have not scored in their past two games, held by Oldham last weekend and then beaten 1-0 at Crewe in midweek, but an improved run of form prior to those fixtures, including a six-game unbeaten streak, has Brown’s men safely positioned in mid-table.

There will be plenty of familiar faces on show tomorrow with Matt Taylor, Keshi Anderson, Jak McCourt and of course Cobblers legend Marc Richards now on the books at Swindon Town while current Town duo Andy Williams and Jordan Turnbill return to the County Ground where they played over 200 games between them.

Brown was appointed Robins boss back in March when David Flitcroft left for Mansfield but he was unable to steer his new side towards the League Two play-offs, missing out by seven points in ninth place as Swindon failed to bounce back from their own League One relegation.

Cobblers are bidding to do likewise this season but, given the current situation, ninth place looks highly appealing. Down in 21st and level on points with the bottom four, Curle could do with a quick start and make the most of the so-called new manager bounce.

He has a virtually fully-fit squad to pick from this weekend. Junior Morias remains a long-term absentee while Shaun McWilliams’ frustratingly stop-start season continued but otherwise Town are at full power to take on Swindon.

Prediction: Swindon Town 1 Northampton Town 1