Fixture: Northampton Town v Blackpool, Capital One Cup first round
Date/kick-off time: Tuesday, August 11, 7.45pm
Weather forecast: 20C, cloudy.
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Brendan Moloney (knee), Evan Horwood (groin). Blackpool: John Herron (knee), Colin Doyle (shoulder)
Betting: Cobblers 6/4, draw 23/10, Blackpool 13/8
Form guide: Cobblers WWWDLD, Blackpool DDDWDW
Possible line-ups: Cobblers (4-4-2): Clarke; Lelan, McDonald, Cresswell, Buchanan; D’Ath, Corry, Byrom, Holmes; Hoskins, Calvert-Lewin. Blackpool (4-4-2): Letheren; Oliver, Jones, Aldred, Ferguson; Rivers, Cameron, McAlister, Osayi-Samuel; Cullen, Ranger.
Last time out: Bristol Rovers 0 Cobblers 1 (O’Toole). Colchester United 2 Blackpool 2 (Cullen 2)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, April 14, 2007 – Blackpool 4 (Brandon 2, Hoolahan, Dyche OG) Cobblers 1 (Cox)
Cobblers connection: There are not too many links between Northampton and Blackpool but one man who does know both clubs is former Cobblers manager and player Graham Carr, now head scout at Newcastle United and father of comedian Alan Carr. Northampton were Carr’s first professional club when he joined in 1962 and he went onto enjoy a six-year playing spell at the County Ground before managing the club between 1985 and 1990. He was sacked by Northampton in 1990 and took over at Blackpool the following month, but then endured a miserable time at the Seasiders and lasted less than six months before being sacked.
James Heneghan’s preview: Following the Football League’s big kick-off on Saturday, it’s the turn of the first domestic cup competition of the season to take centre stage this week and League One side Blackpool are in town for the Cobblers’ opening home game of the new campaign.
Ordinarily, being drawn against a side from the league above would make for a difficult-looking tie, but such is the extent of Blackpool’s struggles in recent years, the Cobblers head into tonight’s encounter as favourites with the bookies and it represents a genuine opportunity for Chris Wilder’s side to progress into the second round for the fifth time in six years.
To say the Seasiders have had an up and down few years would be an understatement. After winning promotion to the Premier League for the first time ever in 2010, they have since experienced a dramatic fall from grace. Prior to the start of last season’s Championship campaign, Blackpool suffered a major crisis when 27 players left the club to leave them with just eight outfield players and no goalkeeper just two weeks before the season.
Inevitably, they went onto endure a dismal season which ultimately resulted in relegation to League One, and things got even worse on the last day of the season when their match against Huddersfield Town was abandoned following an on-pitch protest by supporters. The consequences of that was a suspended three-point deduction.
Current manager Neil McDonald has attempted to rebuild the squad over the summer with a host of new signings, including striker Mark Cullen from Luton Town as well as the experienced Emmerson Boyce, but the squad remains littered with inexperienced youngsters that have come through the academy.
The Tangerines also have a torrid recent record in the League Cup, losing each of their last six ties in the competition, while Northampton have enjoyed better fortunes, including a shock 3-2 win over Championship side Wolves at this stage last year.
Meetings between the Cobblers and the Seasiders are few and far between in recent times with only two encounters in the last 12 years. Blackpool hold the overall edge, winning 17 of the 32 meetings between the two with Northampton winning on eight occasions.
Wilder has already confirmed he’ll mix his team up for tonight’s game with both Sam Hoskins and Paul Corry likely to be given their first starts for the club while Dominic Calvert-Lewin could make his Cobblers debut having signed on loan from Sheffield United last week.
On the injury front, full-backs Brendan Moloney and Evan Horwood remain sidelined but Lawson D’Ath, who scored a brace on his Cobblers debut in that win over Wolves 12 months ago, should be available again after illness forced him out of Saturday’s win at Bristol Rovers.
It should be a tight game which could go to extra-time and even penalties, and I fancy the Cobblers to sneak through, perhaps even after a penalty shoot-out.
Prediction: Cobblers 2 Blackpool 2 (Northampton to win on penalties)