James Heneghan’s Wycombe Wanderers v Northampton Town preview

Chris Wilder and Alan Knill
Chris Wilder and Alan Knill
  • Brisley and Potter declared fit for trip to Adams Park
  • O’Toole could keep place in starting XI
  • Wycombe currently occupy top spot in League Two

Fixture: Wycombe Wanderers v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League Two

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

Venue: Adams Park

Forecast: 13C, cloudy

Outs and doubts: Wycombe: Anthony Stewart (knee), Michael Harriman (groin). Cobblers: Brendan Moloney (knee), Rod McDonald (knee), Paul Corry (knee), Ricky Holmes (back), Jason Taylor (suspended – 4 of 4).

Betting: Wycombe 23/20, draw 23/10, Northampton 12/5

Form guide: Wycombe WWDLWD, Cobblers DDWWLW

Likely line-ups: Wycombe (4-4-2): Ingram; Harriman, Pierre, Jombati, Jacobson; Holloway, Bean, McGinn, O’Nien; Thompson, Ugwu. Northampton (4-4-1-1): Smith; Furlong, Diamond, Cresswell, Buchanan; Adams, O’Toole, Byrom, Potter; Hoskins; Richards

Man in the middle: This weekend’s referee Keith Hill has already brandished three red cards this term as well as 33 yellows in his 10 outings. He last took charge of a Northampton game in October 2014 when the Cobblers were beaten 3-2 at Cheltenham. This will be Hill’s first League Two match of the season.

Last time out: Wycombe 1 (Harriman) Cambridge 0; Wimbledon 1 (Azeez) Northampton 1 (O’Toole)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, May 2, 2015 – Northampton Town 2 (Wood OG, Cresswell) Wycombe 3 (Holloway, Yennaris, Mawson)

Chris Wilder’s view: “It’s a big challenge for us, Wycombe have had a fantastic start to the season and in Gareth Ainsworth they have got a manager who I’m sure will manage at a higher level. It’s a tough period for us, we are building momentum and we will be better. We need to pass the ball and control the ball a bit better than we have done in our last two games but we are in the middle of a really tough run.”

Cobblers connection: Midfielder Steve Brown played over 600 games for these two sides across three decades. Having started his career at the Cobblers, Brown played 173 games for Northampton in two separate spells between 1983 and 1994 before signing for Martin O’Neil’s Wycombe. He became a fans’ favourite at the Chairboys, playing 443 times in a 10-year period which saw him net 43 goals. He spent the next three years as Wycombe’s assistant manager.

James Heneghan’s preview: For the second successive Saturday Northampton will come face to face with the Sky Bet League Two table toppers.

After holding previous leaders Leyton Orient to a draw last week, the Cobblers now go to a Wycombe side who continue to churn out results under the impressive Gareth Ainsworth.

Wanderers are the latest team to reach the summit after beating Cambridge United 1-0 on Tuesday evening and Portsmouth suffered a surprise home defeat to Exeter.

Having survived relegation by the narrowest of margins on the final day of the 2013/14 campaign, the Chairboys took everyone by surprise the following year when they produced a sustained push for promotion which culminated in fourth place and the play-offs.

There was to be no fairytale ending, however, as they suffered heartbreak in the play-off final at Wembley, losing on penalties to Southend United.

In an attempt to go one better this time around, Ainsworth boosted his squad in the summer, bringing in the likes of Michael Harriman and Garry Thompson, and they look set for another promotion charge with six wins, three draws and one defeat from their opening 10 games enough to see them sit top of what is a congested League Two table.

This is not a fixture Northampton have been particularly fond of in recent years having failed to win any of the last five meetings, though they do hold the overall edge, winning eight to Wycombe’s six.

Draws are the most popular outcome when these two sides come together with 13 of the 27 meetings ending all square.

Tuesday’s match-winner and right-back Michael Harriman, who currently tops Wycombe’s scoring charts with three goals this season, came off with an injury against Cambridge but he’s like to be fit for this Saturday’s clash, however Anthony Stewart is out for 10 weeks with a knee problem.

With Jason Taylor still suspended, John-Joe O’Toole has a strong chance of starting his second successive game following his goalscoring exploits on Tuesday, while Sam Hoskins may come back into the side having impressed as a second half substitute against Wimbledon.

Another substitute from Tuesday, Ryan Cresswell, could also start after recovering from a knee injury. He’ll partner either Zander Diamond or Shaun Brisley at the heart of defence.

The last five meetings between these two sides at Adams Park have all ended in a draw, and it’s not a stretch to imagine another stalemate could be on the cards again this time around.

Prediction: Wycombe 1 Northampton 1