Jefferson Lake’s Northampton Town v Newport County preview

Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh has led the club to fifth in Sky Bet League Two
Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh has led the club to fifth in Sky Bet League Two

Fixture: Northampton Town v Newport County

Date/kick-off time: Saturday, January 24, 3pm

Venue: Sixfields Stadium, Northampton

Weather forecast: 5C, sunny

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Ian Morris (knee), Kaid Mohamed (broken metatarsal). Newport: Robbie Willmott (broken foot)

Betting: Cobblers 6/4, draw 5/2, Dagenham & Redbridge 2/1

Form guide: Cobblers WWDLLL, Newport LWWWWL

Possible line-ups: Northampton (4-4-1-1): Duke, Moloney, Cresswell, Collins, Horwood, D’Ath, Taylor, Byrom, Holmes, O’Toole, Richards. Newport (3-5-2): Day; Poole, Jones, Yakubu; Jackson, Minshull, Byrne, Chapman, Sandell; O’Connor, Zebroski

Last time out: Cobblers beat Dagenham 1-0 (Holmes), Newport lost 4-0 at Cambridge United

Most recent meeting: Saturday, September 13: Newport 3 Northampton 2 (D’Ath, Richards)

Cobblers connection: Danny Crow recently announced his retirement from professional football to move to Lowestoft and concentrate on his coaching career, while still playing part-time. Newport will be listed as his final Football League club while his first are Norwich City, who loaned him to the Cobblers for a 10-game spell in 2005.

Jefferson Lake’s preview: Northampton’s team selection will remain the same and their manager Chris Wilder will hope for a repeat of the past two winning performances but the standard of opposition moves up a notch this weekend when Newport County come to town.

The Exiles might have lost their previous game 4-0, at Cambridge United, but prior to that they won seven out of eight league games and arrive at Sixfields very much in the promotion play-off picture.

Memories of the early-season meeting between the two sides are not fond ones - Newport blew the Cobblers away on that September afternoon and were three goals up before half-time.

What cost Town that day is likely to be the key feature of the game against this week, namely how well they cope with Newport’s 3-5-2 system; in the game at Rodney Parade, both wing-backs but especially Ryan Jackson, were outstanding and caused a multitude of problems for the Northampton defence.

They may make tweaks to the midfield for the weekend - Michael Flynn, Max Porter and Yan Klukowski are all in the frame to play after a less-than-impressive display by the middle men at Cambridge.

Manager Justin Edinburgh has been known to shuffle his pack after disappointing results and so that should logically be the case after their largest defeat of the season.

There are unlikely to be any changes in attack or defence, however, which could mean a glimpse of one of the division’s brightest emerging stars in 16-year-old centre-back Regan Poole.

Newport have an unwanted and perhaps undeserved reputation as a physical and direct team - they don’t play any more long balls than your average league two side and, with pace out wide, have mastered a good balance of the technical and the tough.

They do not play with a target man and their key strength is their system, but the Cobblers can take encouragement that it can be a weakness too, and it will be interesting to see how the Newport wing-backs cope with the busy presence of Lawson D’Ath and Ricky Holmes, of whom another strong performance is required.

Prediction: Northampton Town 1 Newport County 1