James Heneghan's Bradford City v Northampton Town preview

Fixture: Bradford City v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One

Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 6:44 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 12:27 pm
Paul Anderson returns to Valley Parade on Tuesday three months after leaving Bradford for Northampton

Date/time: Tuesday, November 22, 7.45pm kick-off

Venue: Valley Parade

Forecast: 6C, cloudy

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Outs and doubts: Bradford: Billy Clarke (calf), Vincent Rabiega (muscle strain), Vincent Rabiega (thigh). Cobblers: Zander Diamond (fractured cheekbone), JJ Hooper (thigh)

Betting: Bradford 19/20, draw 12/5, Northampton 3/1

Form guide: Bantams LWLLWD, Cobblers LLDWWW

Avg. goals scored/conceded per game: Bradford 1.4/0.9; Northampton 1.6/1.4

Likely line-ups: Bradford (4-4-2): Doyle; Darby, Vincelot, Knight-Percival, Meredith; Marshall, Cullen, Dieng, Law; Hanson, Clarke. Northampton (4-3-3): Smith; Moloney, Zakuani, Nyatanga, Buchanan; McCourt, Taylor, Hoskins; Anderson, Potter, Revell

Man in the middle: Christopher Sarginson

Last time out: Southend 3 Bradford 0; Northampton 0 Peterborough 1

Most recent meeting: Saturday, May 28, 2013 – Bradford City 3 (Hanson, McArdle, Wells) Northampton Town 0

Record v Bradford: P29 W6 D6 L17

Opposition view: “After a defeat, you always want to try and put it right as quick as you can,” said Stuart McCall ahead of Tuesday’s game. “Northampton are in the same boat. We’ll lick our wounds, we can’t win every game and we focus now on Tuesday evening. We might have to wait until the last minute but we’ve got to be patient and play to a good tempo from the first whistle.”

Cobblers connection: Potentially two players could face off against their former clubs this evening. For Northampton, Paul Anderson returns to Valley Parade just three months after leaving. Anderson signed for the Bantams in August 2015 but his time there was severely hampered by a broken leg sustained just two months after signing, restricting his appearances to just 13 league games. Meanwhile, a calf injury may rob striker Billy Clarke of the chance to start tonight and therefore face Northampton, for whom he played five times in 2009.

James Heneghan’s preview: After the agony of Saturday, the next part of Northampton’s week-long trilogy of crunch games takes them to Valley Parade where they face arguably their toughest and most daunting assignment of the season so far in the shape of high-flying Bradford City.

Priced at 12-1 for the title before the season had even kicked-off, the Bantams were and still are backed by many to bounce straight back from their play-off disappointment in May and win promotion this time around.

And despite a recent wobble, it’s so far, so good for new boss Stuart McCall, who replaced Bolton-bound Phil Parkinson in the summer.

Still unbeaten at home and with only two defeats all season, City are currently placed fourth in Sky Bet League One and boast the third best defensive record in the division.

It’s a daunting task for Rob Page and his players this evening, although this fixture is not quite as formidable as it may have been prior to Saturday.

Whilst the Cobblers were suffering late heartbreak, Bradford went down to a surprisingly heavy 3-0 defeat at Southend United, dropping them from second to fourth in the process and perhaps offering a timely reminder that they are far from unbeatable.

Recent history between the two clubs does not bode well to say the least – Northampton have failed to beat Bradford in any of their last eight clashes – and Cobblers fans neither need nor want reminding of how the last meeting with the Bantams unfolded.

Since that fateful day at Wembley though, Northampton have joined Bradford in League One and now they have the opportunity of revenge at what will be an emotional Valley Parade tonight as City pay tribute to record scorer Bobby Campbell who last week died at the age of 60.

Rob Page has strongly hinted at changes for this clash and one player whose place might be in jeopardy is that of Adam Smith’s in goal.

After a sensational start to his Cobblers career, Smith’s form has tailed off alarmingly since the back end of last season and into this, so much so that Page could be tempted to bring in David Cornell.

Although his shot-stopping has never been in question, on Saturday, not for the first time this campaign, Smith was guilty of not coming for a cross that should have been his, allowing Chris Forrester time and space to head Peterborough to a dramatic victory.

That type of indecision breeds uncertainty and nervousness among an otherwise solid back four that will need to be on top of their game against Bradford.

Zander Diamond faces a long spell on the sidelines with a fractured cheekbone, which means Gabriel Zakuani will partner Lewin Nyatanga in defence, and other potential changes may present opportunities for the likes of Alfie Potter and Kenji Gorre.

But whoever Page puts his faith in this evening in faces a tall order. To get anything, Northampton must rediscover their early-season resilience, cut out those basic errors and ensure they play until the very final whistle.

Anything less than and it promises to be a tough night.

Prediction: Bradford City 2 Northampton Town 0