James Heneghan's Hartlepool United v Northampton Town preview
Fixture: Hartlepool United v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Saturday, October 9, 3pm
Venue: Victoria Park
Forecast: 19C, overcast
Outs and doubts: Hartlepool: Gary Liddle, Gavan Holohan, Tyler Burey, Fela Olomola, Joe Grey. Cobblers: Danny Rose (suspended), Joseph Mills, Sid Nelson
Betting: Pools 6/4, draw 9/4, Northampton 19/10
Form guide: Hartlepool DLDDWL, Cobblers DLDDWL
Current league positions: 10th v 13th
Possible line-ups: Hartlepool (3-5-2): Killip; Hendrie, Byrne, Francis-Angol; Sterry, Shelton, Featherstone, Daly, Jones; Molyneux, Fondop-Talum. Northampton (4-3-3): Roberts; McGowan, Horsfall, Guthrie, Koiki; Sowerby, McWilliams, Lewis; Connolly, Hoskins, Etete.
Man in the middle: Ben Toner
Last time out: Hartlepool 2 (Daly 2) Morecambe 2; Northampton 1 (Connolly) Walsall 1
Most recent meeting: Saturday, February 27, 2016 - Hartlepool 0 Northampton 0
Record v Hartlepool: P67 W28 D15 L24
James Heneghan's preview: Tomorrow's Sky Bet League Two encounter at Victoria Park will be a battle of Hartlepool United's terrific home form against Northampton's excellent record on the road.
With four wins and a draw from five games, Pools boast the division's best home record at this early stage of the campaign. Crawley Town, Walsall, Carlisle United and Bristol Rovers were all sent packing from the north east without a point between them, while Exeter City fought back to draw in the most recent league game at Victoria Park.
Initially, Hartlepool adjusted to life back in the EFL with impressive ease, winning three of their first four, but things have tailed off a little in recent weeks, much like Northampton. In fact, the records of these two teams over the last six games in all competitions are identical: one win, three draws and two defeats.
As a result, both have gone from occupying a top three berth earlier in the season to now sitting in mid-table with three places and one point separating the Cobblers in 10th to United in 13th. The two managers will see tomorrow as an opportunity to get back on track.
For the Cobblers, it is especially important that they get back to a resemblance of their best selves following last Saturday's poor performance against Sutton United. They improved against Walsall in midweek but a league game away from home will provide a much stiffer test for Jon Brady's men.
Nonetheless, whilst Sutton was disappointing, and whilst performances remain inconsistent, 15 points and 10th place is a perfectly respectable return at this stage of the season, especially with the promise of improvements still to come.
Brady will be hoping Jon Guthrie has sufficiently recovered from COVID to start in the north east this weekend because his absence was keenly-felt against Sutton. He brings calmness and leadership to the back-line and is arguably Town's biggest threat from set-pieces.
But with or without Guthrie, Cobblers need to make improvements all across the pitch if they are to bounce back to winning ways, all the more so given the scale of their task this weekend.
Prediction: Hartlepool United 1 Northampton Town 1