Fixture: Newport County v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Saturday, October 31, 3pm kick-off
Venue: Rodney Parade
Forecast: 16C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Newport: Andrew Hughes (knee), Nathan Ralph (hamstring). Cobblers: Ricky Holmes (back), Lawson D’Ath (suspended – 3 of 3), Paul Corry (knee), Ryan Cresswell (groin)
Betting: Newport 21/10, draw 12/5, Northampton 5/4
Form guide: County WWLLDL, Cobblers WWLWLW
Avg. goals scored/conceded per game: Newport 0.9/1.6, Northampton 1.6/1.3
Possible line-ups: Newport (5-3-2): Day; Patridge, Bennett, Donacien, Barnum-Bobb, Barrow; Byrne, O’Sullivan, Elito; Ansah, John-Lewis. Northampton (4-4-2): Smith; Furlong, Diamond, Cresswell, Buchanan; Hoskins, Byrom, O’Toole, Adams; Calvert-Lewin, Richards.
Man in the middle: Darren Deadman has already overseen one Northampton game this season when the Cobblers ran out 3-2 winners over Colchester in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Deadman was also in charge the last time Northampton and Newport met in January of this year, with the Cobblers again prevailing this time 3-0.
Last time out: Bristol Rovers 1 (Bodin) Newport County 4 (Parkes OG, Ansah 2, O’Sullivan); Northampton Town 2 (Calvert-Lewin, Potter) Stevenage 1 (Schumacher)
Most recent meeting: January 24, 2015 - Northampton 3 (Cresswell, O’Toole, D’Ath) Newport 0
Opposition view: Newport boss John Sheridan told the South Wales Argus this week: “We’ve got to be brave and be positive and take the game to Northampton, which is what we’ll aim to do. It’s another tough game against a team who I think will be up there at the end of the season. But it’s a game we’ll go into looking to try to win.
“I don’t think the off-the-field problems will affect them. I know Chris Wilder well – he’s a good manager and he’s got a strong team. He’ll just get his players concentrating on what they’re doing on the pitch and they’re going really well at the moment.
“Full credit to them but we’re at home and we know that if we’re on our game we’ve got a good chance of winning.”
Cobblers connection: Former Arsenal youth product Paul Rodgers, who currently plays for National League side Bromley, spent three years between 2009 and 2012 at Northampton and then Newport. Following two years at Arsenal with just one first-team appearance to his name, defender Rodgers joined the Cobblers on loan in 2009 and proceeded to sign for the club permanently that summer after a short trial. He went on to play 66 times at Sixfields before making the move to South Wales, where he featured 38 times for the Exiles. The 26-year-old has since played for Billericay, St Neots, Farnborough and now Bromley.
James Heneghan’s preview: It’s been another turbulent week for everyone connected to Northampton Town and with the off-field troubles showing no sign of abating, Saturday’s trip to Wales rather pales into insignificance in the grand scheme of things.
However, it does provide a welcome distraction from those issues as performances and results on the pitch continue to defy all the odds, and this weekend, Town face a stern test against a rejuvenated Newport County side.
The Exiles endured a woeful start to the season and their failure to win any of their opening eight league games saw former England player Terry Butcher dismissed as manager.
His replacement John Sheridan has revived the club’s fortunes and County go into tomorrow’s game on the back of two excellent away wins at Wycombe and Bristol Rovers.
Despite the turnaround, though, Newport remain precariously placed just above the drop zone with 12 points from 15 games, scoring just 13 goals in the process.
Northampton too have won their last two fixtures, 3-2 and 2-1 against Carlisle United and Stevenage respectively, and a third straight win on Saturday could see them leapfrog Portsmouth and Oxford into second place.
With all staff not paid on time this month, it would be understandable if there was a drop off in performance this weekend but such has been the unity and character displayed by Chris Wilder and his set of players in these difficult times, you would not be surprised if they used it as extra motivation to go and get another result.
The loss of defender Shaun Brisley is a blow, though, with the Peterborough man sent back to his parent club following a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for up to eight weeks.
Ryan Cresswell is likely to be his replacement, while Alfie Potter could be given his first start for almost two months following an impressive cameo against Stevenage last week.
Given County’s recent rejuvenation and Northampton’s off-field woes, all the indications would suggest a home win this weekend, but Wilder’s side have developed a tendency to perform at their best when the odds seem firmly stacked against them.
Prediction: Newport 1 Northampton 1