James Heneghan's Colchester United v Northampton Town preview

Cobblers' first win of last season came at Colchester. Picture: Pete Norton
Cobblers' first win of last season came at Colchester. Picture: Pete Norton

Fixture: Colchester United v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League Two

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

Venue: JobServe Community Stadium

Forecast: 26C, sunny

Outs and doubts: Colchester: Cohen Bramall, Paris Cowan-Hall, Harry Pell, Tom Lapslie. Cobblers: Alan McCormack, Steve Arnold, Reece Hall Johnson, Scott Wharton, Joe Martin

Betting: Colchester 6/5, draw 12/5, Northampton 11/5

Form guide: United DLWLD, Cobblers WLLDL

Current league positions: 19th v 21st

Possible line-ups: Colchester (4-2-3-1): Gerken; Jackson, Eastman, Prosser, Clampin; Comley, Stevenson; Senior, Brown, Nouble; Norris. Northampton: (4-4-2): Cornell; McWilliams, Goode, Turnbull, Bunney; Adams, Watson, Lines, Hoskins; Williams, Oliver.

Man in the middle: Ollie Yates

Last time out: Grimsby 2 Colchester 2 (Nouble, Norris); Swindon 0 Northampton 1 (Williams)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, February 2, 2019 - Northampton 0 Colchester 4 (Nouble, Eisa, Vincent-Young, Szmodics)

Record v Colchester: P72 W30 D14 L28

James Heneghan's preview: Tuesday's win at Swindon Town came just at the right time for the Cobblers and now they have an immediate opportunity to back it up against one of only four sides yet to register a victory in League Two this season.

Colchester United, rated as outside contenders for promotion before a ball was kicked, have made a surprisingly slow start to the campaign, taking only two points from games against Port Vale, Plymouth, Cambridge United and Grimsby Town, though they did beat Swindon 3-0 in the Carabao Cup.

The U's were three minutes away from registering their league first victory at Blundell Park in midweek but Matt Green's late goal kept John McGreal and his side waiting for at least another few days.

McGreal lost key man Sammie Szmodics to Championship club Bristol City earlier in the summer but he's made some notable signings to compensate, including Jevani Brown from Cambridge United, former Luton Town winger Luke Gambin and Paris Cowan-Hall from Wycombe Wanderers.

"Most Colchester United fans are expecting a top-seven finish as a minimum," says John Waldron of the Colchester Daily Gazette. "The U’s only missed out on the play-offs by a point last season having gone into 2019 in the top three. This is Colchester’s fourth successive season in League Two so they want to see a promotion."

Northampton's opening win of last season came in this very fixture when, almost a year to the day, Matt Crooks and Billy Waters scored second-half goals in a 2-1 win at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Thankfully Keith Curle goes into this weekend's game with a win already under his belt although it took a little longer than hoped for after Andy Williams' second-half winner at Swindon in midweek.

Ideally Curle would keep an unchanged side for the trip to Essex but the effort and commitment required to gain that victory at the County Ground might prompt him to freshen things up and make a few alterations.

If so, Billy Waters did a useful job off the bench on Tuesday and could be an option while Vadaine Oliver will be champing at the bit to make his first start after a couple of cameo appearances in the past week.

Tuesday's win came at an important time for Curle and the Cobblers but with a couple of tough fixtures on the horizon - at home to Plymouth and away at Bradford - now is not the time to ease off the gas.

Prediction: Colchester United 1 Northampton Town 1