James Heneghan's Northampton Town v Bradford City preview
Fixture: Northampton Town v Bradford City, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Monday, January 2, 3pm kick-off
Forecast: 3C, sunny
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Brendan Moloney (knee). Bradford: Filipe Morais (strain), Billy Clarke (calf)
Betting: Northampton 21/10, draw 23/10, Bradford 13/10
Form guide: Cobblers LWLLWL, Bantams DDDDWL
Avg. goals scored/conceded per game: Northampton 1.4/1.4, Bradford 1.2/0.8
Possible line-ups: Northampton (4-4-2): Smith; Phillips, Diamond, Nyatanga, Buchanan; Hoskins, Boateng, Taylor, Wylde; Revell, Richards. Bradford (4-4-2): Doyle; McMahon, Vincelot, Knight-Percival, Kilgallon; Marshall, Cullen, Devine, Law; Hanson, Hiwula-Mayifuila
Man in the middle: Scott Duncan
Last time out: Sheffield United 1 Northampton Town 0; Bradford City 1 (Law) Bury 1
Most recent meeting: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - Bradford City 1 (Hanson) Northampton Town 0
Record v Bantams: P30 W6 D6 L18
Opposition view: Stuart McCall plans to rotate his squad for this game following their home draw with Bury on Saturday, saying: "There’s no doubt we’ve got a few players in the side who couldn’t be at their best over two games in a short space. We’ve got a good squad and we’ll use it. I keep saying it but the lads not involved are training great and will be ready.”
James Heneghan's preview: The first game of 2017 is sure to provide the Cobblers with a stiff test but given Bradford's failure to win any of their five league games since beating Northampton in November, Monday also represents an opportunity to record a first league win at Sixfields for over two months.
James Hanson's second-half header earned the Bantams a hard-fought 1-0 win over Town in November's meeting but since then, and despite coming up against two relegation-threatened sides in Swindon and Bury, Stuart McCall's side have lost one and drawn four to slip out of title contention.
Indeed, their drop off in form has been so steep that, having been just two points off second place not so long ago, they are now only just clinging on to a play-off place.
Given that the the same could be said of Northampton, who've garnered just two more points in the same period of time, Monday's clash at Sixfields, which has not seen a home league win since October, is a chance for both sides to get back on track.
Following their woeful four-game losing run, the Cobblers must start turning good performances into positive results on a more consistent basis if they want to climb upwards in League One and secure themselves in the middle third of the table.
Rob Page's two most recent acquisitions, Greg Wylde and Hiram Boateng, should both available for this game and they will hopefully provide the quality and spark to a midfield which has, of late, been too one-dimensional and unable to influence games in the manner Page would like.
Given their exertions at Bramall Lane just 48 hours earlier, Page is sure to shuffle his pack for the visit of the Bantams but it is essential he finds the right combination, both in terms of personnel and his system, to stop the rot at Sixfields where the Cobblers have struggled to capitalise on home advantage.
Sheffield United followed by Bradford in the space of two days is typical of the unrelenting nature of this league; there's barely a chance to pause for breath. That, though, is what the Cobblers signed up for and Monday is another chance to prove they belong at this level.
Prediction: Northampton Town 1 Bradford City 1