James Heneghan's Northampton Town v Crewe Alexandra preview

Fixture: Northampton Town v Crewe Alexandra, Sky Bet League Two

Friday, 15th November 2019, 11:59 am
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 12:01 pm
Daniel Powell scored for the Cobblers in both games against Crewe last season, but he left to join David Artell's club in the summer.

Date/time: Saturday, November 16, 3pm kick-off

Venue: PTS Academy Stadium

Forecast: 8C, cloudy

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Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Shaun McWilliams, Ryan Watson, Joe Martin. Crewe: Daniel Powell, Eddie Nolan

Betting: Northampton 17/10, draw 23/10, Crewe 31/20

Form guide: Cobblers WDWWWL, Alex WDLDWW

Current league positions: 9th v 4th

Possible line-ups: Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Goode, Turnbull, Wharton; Anderson, Adams, McCormack, Lines, Warburton; Hoskins, Smith. Crewe (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen; Ng, Hunt, Mbulu, Pickering; Green, Wintle Lowery; Dale, Kirk, Porter.

Man in the middle: Craig Hicks

Last time out: Chippenham 0 Northampton 3 (Smith, Oliver 2); Accrington Stanley 0 Crewe 2 (Kirk, Porter)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, March 2, 2019 - Crewe Alexandra 0 Northampton Town 2 (Powell, O'Toole)

John-Joe O'Toole was on target as Cobblers beat Crewe twice last season, winning 2-0 both times.

Record v Crewe: P68 W28 D16 L24

Opposition view: “It is a great feeling to have, knowing that if we play well then we have a good chance of winning the game," said Crewe boss David Artell this week. "We know that it will take something special or something distinctively different to beat us now and that is credit to the players.”

James Heneghan's preview: After the welcome distraction of an FA Cup victory, Northampton's focus now returns to league matters and the enticing prospect of making further headway up the League Two standings with a positive result against Crewe Alexandra this weekend.

This time last month the Cobblers were still licking their wounds following a humbling defeat at Scunthorpe United but fast forward five weeks and the picture looks far brighter. Unbeaten since, they've won four of five and now have an opportunity to push on with successive home games.

Beat both Crewe and Grimsby and they will have earned the tag of play-off contenders and perhaps even outside candidates for automatic promotion but, as always, that's easier said than done.

Indeed, visitors Crewe would have come into this game sitting top of the pile in League Two had it not been for a 1-0 home defeat to Port Vale in their last league outing. Such is the tightly-packed nature of the current table, that result dropped them down to fourth place.

But David Artell's men are a different outfit from the team that languished in the bottom half for so much of last season and they bounced straight back with an impressive 2-0 victory at Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup last weekend.

And as if Cobblers fans weren't already nervous enough when their team goes 2-0 in front, the following statistic is unlikely to settle them: no team in the top four tiers of English football has won more points from losing positions than Crewe this season.

They also have Daniel Powell back in their ranks. The winger, who scored twice for the Cobblers against Crewe last season, has not featured since scoring against Carlisle United last month but returned to training this week and should be fit enough to make the squad on Saturday.

And with 26 goals to their name this season, the Alex are second only to Cheltenham and Swindon in the goal charts this season. Their free-scoring attack against Town's improving defence should make for a fascinating battle on Saturday.

Crewe's excellent start has also hinged on their fine form on their travels. No team in the division has won more than their five games on the road while only Forest Green Rovers have picked up more away points.

Meanwhile, the FA Cup victory at Chippenham has given Keith Curle a dilemma or two. David Cornell will surely keep his place in goal despite Steve Arnold's return but Harry Smith, Andy Williams and Vadaine Oliver are all vying to lead the line while the fit-again Scott Pollock will want to win his starting spot back.

The bookies can't split these two teams and it's no wonder given their recent form. However, having picked up momentum and put themselves in prime position, Cobblers will see no reason why they can't make it five wins in six.

Prediction: Northampton 2 Crewe Alexandra 1