James Heneghan's Northampton Town v Crewe Alexandra preview
Fixture: Northampton Town v Crewe Alexandra, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Saturday, November 3, 3pm kick-off
Venue: PTS Academy Stadium
Forecast: 12C, sunny spells
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Sam Foley (suspended – 1/3), Shay Facey, Junior Morias, Leon Barnett, Ash Taylor. Crewe: Eddie Nolan, Paul Green.
Betting: Northampton 19/20, draw 5/2, Crewe 14/5
Form guide: Cobblers WWLWWD, Crewe LWDWDL
Possible line-ups: Northampton (4-4-2): Cornell; Odoffin, Turnbull, Pierre, Buchanan; Crooks, McWilliams, O’Toole, Bridge; Powell, van Veen. Crewe (4-4-2): Garratt; Whelan, Ray, Ng, Pickering; Ainley, Jones, Wintle, Kirk; Bowery, Miller.
Man in the middle: Scott Oldham
Last time out: Northampton 2 (O’Toole, van Veen) Oldham 1; Crewe 0 Mansfield 3
Most recent meeting: Saturday, March 31, 2012 - Crewe 1 (Murphy) Northampton 1 (Akinfenwa)
Record v Crewe: P66 W26 D16 L24
Opposition view: “We made some costly mistakes on Tuesday and we need to iron them out,” said Dave Artell following his side’s 3-0 home defeat to Mansfield in midweek. “We were very much in the game in the first-half and found ourselves 2-0 down at half-time because of our mistakes.
“We were not aggressive enough and by that I don’t mean fouling them, I mean being competitive, running harder and picking up those second balls. We didn’t do enough to stop them and that is what we will be looking to improve on at Northampton.”
Cobblers connection: It’s unlikely that current Crewe manager Dave Artell has fond memories of his one and only season at Northampton. Signed on a free transfer in the summer of 2012, it initially began well for the Gibraltarian centre-back who played 14 times and scored four goals, but after suffering an Achilles tendon injury In October, he never featured for the club again. Once back fit, the 37-year-old had several spells in non-league and also played seven times for Gibraltar before moving into management, taking charge of former club Crewe in January 2017.
James Heneghan’s preview: Separated by just one point and one place in the current Sky Bet League Two table, Northampton and Crewe have endured similar campaigns ahead of tomorrow’s meeting at the PTS Stadium.
Not only do they boast comparable league records so far this season – Crewe have won one game more but scored two fewer goals – they have also experienced both ends of the spectrum during their opening 16 games.
The Alex, in fact, briefly topped the table back in August after an opening-day 6-0 victory over Morecambe, only to then lose by the same margin at Colchester United two weeks later. Town, meanwhile, have both lost 4-0 and won 5-0 away from home within the space of a month.
The similarities extend to the cup competitions where falls at the first hurdle of the EFL Cup have been followed by a mixed start to their respective Checkatrade Trophy campaigns.
So you’d expect tomorrow to be a tight, hard-to-call encounter, and that may have been the case up until a few days ago as both sides appeared to be on the up following an indifferent run of form during August and September.
But while it’s hard to confidently call a winner, Crewe’s heavy home defeat to Mansfield Town in midweek allied to Town’s own resurgence under Keith Curle gives the hosts an edge as they bid to extend their winning run to three games.
The Cobblers remain an unflattering 18th in League Two despite their resurgence but we are still at a stage where a couple of good results can send you catapulting up the table. Indeed, two wins could well be enough to move Northampton into the top half and beyond.
It works the other way too, of course, so Curle will be desperate to maintain the momentum and lift his side’s growing confidence further with three points at the expense of good friend Dave Artell.
Sam Foley has been one of Town’s most consistent performers this season so his absence through suspension is a blow but it does allow for Shaun McWilliams, a makeshift right-back of late, to return to his natural central midfield position.
Hakeem Odoffin impressed off the bench last week so can slot in at right-back should Shay Facey remain out, but otherwise there is little reason for Curle to make many charges after Town’s resolute showing in victory over Oldham last time out.
Saturday brings together two sides who lost only three of 14 games between them in October, but after Crewe’s progress was abruptly halted by Mansfield in midweek, the Cobblers can take another step forward this weekend.
Prediction: Northampton Town 3 Crewe Alexandra 1