James Heneghan's Bradford City v Northampton Town preview

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

Friday, 6th September 2019, 10:03 am
Chris Long scored in Northampton's 2-1 victory the last time they played Bradford.

Date/time: Saturday, September 7, 3pm kick-off

Venue: Valley Parade

Forecast: 14C, cloudy

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Richard O'Donnell was in goal for the Cobblers when they last visited Valley Parade, but he'll be donning the gloves for the home team this weekend.

Outs and doubts: Bradford: Adam Henley, Shay McCarten, Jake Reeves. Cobblers: Matty Warburton, Alan McCormack, Ryan Watson, Reece Hall-Johnson, Steve Arnold

Betting: Bradford 11/10, draw 5/2, Northampton 23/10

Form guide: Bantams DLLWWL, Cobblers LWDLWL

Current league positions: 12th v 17th

Possible line-ups: Bradford (3-5-2): O'Donnell; A O'Connor, P O'Connor, Richards-Everton; Mellor, Akpan, Devitt, Palmer, Wood; Donaldson, Vaughan. Northampton (4-2-3-1): Cornell; McWilliams, Goode, Wharton, Martin; Turnbull, Lines; Hoskins, Warburton, Adams; Williams.

Man in the middle: Leigh Doughty

Last time out: Bolton 1 Bradford 1 (O'Connor); Northampton 3 (Watson, Williams 2) Plymouth 1

Most recent meeting: January 13, 2018 - Bradford City 1 (Taylor) Northampton Town (O'Toole, Long)

Record v Bradford: P33 W7 D6 L20

James Heneghan's preview: Whilst the Cobblers have been slow to get going this season, they now have an opportunity to take down the two pre-season title favourites in back-to-back games.

The performance and victory against Plymouth Argyle last Saturday came at a handy time for Keith Curle and his players but it gets no easier with the trip to big-hitting albeit slow-starting Bradford City tomorrow afternoon.

Priced as low as 8-1 for the title before the season had even kicked-off, the Bantams were and still are backed by many to bounce straight back following relegation from League One in May when off-field problems led to them finishing bottom of the pile, nine points adrift of safety.

Town have been slow out of the blocks but three points at Valley Parade would go a long way to turning a poor start into a decent one. Although 10 points from seven games would not set pulses racing, it would give them a platform from which to build, especially given they'd have played five teams - Swindon, Colchester, Walsall, Plymouth and Bradford - that are expected to be promotion challengers.

The league table will not start to take shape for another few matches but at present it's very congested. Whilst 17th place is not where the Cobblers wanted to be at this stage, they're only three points adrift of sixth and can easily make up significant ground with a couple of good results.

Bradford themselves have not made the flying start many anticipated. They followed two draws with two wins in their opening four fixtures but have lost each of their last two in the league, beaten 1-0 at home to Forest Green and defeated 2-1 on the road to Crewe last time out.

Having signed the likes of James Vaughan, Clayton Donaldson and Jamie Devitt during the summer transfer window, anything short of an automatic promotion challenge would leave manager Gary Bowyer under pressure.

"The fans are back onside after a dreadful 18 months as Gary Bowyer rebuilds a club ruined by former chairman Edin Rahic," wrote Bradford Telegraph journalist Simon Parker at the start of the season. "It is looking more like a team now than a collection of individuals and there is a belief that Bowyer can take them straight back up as he did with Blackpool."

The good news for Town boss Keith Curle is that his potential injury crisis has not materialised. At one point it was feared he'd be without seven players this weekend, including captain Charlie Goode and last week's man of the match Jordan Turnbull.

But both Turnbull and Goode trained on Thursday and the former may well be required in central midfield. With Ryan Watson joining Alan McCormack in the treatment room and Shaun McWilliams currently needed at right-back, Curle is short on partners for Chris Lines.

The challenge for the Cobblers this weekend is not necessarily to win - although that would be most welcome - but to build on the vastly-improved performance against Plymouth. Play well, create chances and come away from Valley Parade with a point or more and most people will be left satisfied that Town remain on an upwards trajectory.

Prediction: Bradford City 1 Northampton Town 1