James Heneghan's Northampton Town v Fleetwood Town preview
Fixture: Northampton Town v Fleetwood Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, August 12, 3pm kick-off
Forecast: 19C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Leon Barnett (suspended), John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Daniel Powell (hamstring), Sam Hoskins (knee), Sam Foley (ankle). Fleetwood: Harvey Rodgers (suspended)
Betting: Northampton 6/4, draw 23/10, Fleetwood 9/5
Likely line-ups: Northampton (3-4-1-2): Cornell; Poole, A Taylor, Pierre; Phillips, Kasim, Crooks, Buchanan; Waters; Long, Richards. Fleetwood (3-4-3): Cairns; Bolger, Pond, Eastham; Coyle, Dempsey, Glendon, Bell; Grant, McAleny, Hiwula.
Man in the middle: Brett Huxtable, who was only promoted to the Football League in 2016, has been charged with overseeing this weekend’s clash between the Cobblers and Fleetwood at Sixfields. The Devon official twice refereed Town last season, taking charge of the 3-1 win over Swindon in September and the 2-1 home defeat to Oldham in February.
Last time out: Fleetwood 1 (Hiwula-Mayifuila) Carlisle 2; Queens Park Rangers 1 Northampton 0
Most recent meeting: Saturday, February 25, 2017 – Fleetwood 3 (Cole, Grant, Ball) Northampton 0
Record v Fleetwood: P7 W3 D1 L3
Did you know? Fleetwood captain Nathan Pond is a Guiness World Record Holder. He boasts the record for appearing in the most different divisions with a single football club. Entering his 14th season at Fleetwood, the 32-year-old was recognised for having played in seven divisions for Fleetwood from the North West Counties up to League One through the course of six promotions.
James Heneghan’s preview: As the Cobblers chase their first goal and points of the season, Fleetwood Town town arrive at Sixfields on Saturday bidding for a second successive victory that would confirm their tag as serious contenders for promotion once again.
The Cod Army’s speedy ascent up the Football League has been well-documented in recent years and with the eccentric yet esteemed Uwe Rosler still at the helm, they appear destined for another tilt at the top two this time around.
Following play-off heartbreak last season, Fleetwood have again flown beneath the radar with much of the focus on the likes of Blackburn, Wigan and Portsmouth but, as their opening-day 2-0 win over relegated Rotherham suggests, it would not be a surprise if they were not among the top six come May.
Despite losing 14-goal man and top scorer David Ball to Rotherham over the summer, Fleetwood have bolstered their ranks with the signings of Kyle Dempsey, Jordy Hiwula, Lewie Coyle and Harvery Rodgers, though the latter is suspended for Saturday.
Conor McAleny is perhaps their headline recruit, though. Fending off competition from a host of clubs in both the Championship and League One, the 24-year-old striker joined Fleetwood on a three-year deal from Everton having impressed at Oxford United last season.
He’s already made his mark by netting both goals in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Rotherham.
For the Cobblers, back-to-back 1-0 defeats has upped the importance of their first home game of the season. With a tough trip to Charlton to come next week, followed by a meeting with old foes Peterborough, it’s imperative they get up and running as quickly as possible, even if to just quieten those very early sceptics.
There are few straightforward selection decisions for Edinburgh – something that might become a theme this season – and the Town manager admitted this week that Tuesday’s performance at Queens Park Rangers has given him ‘a lot of thought’ when it comes to choosing his team for Saturday.
Two players who should have done enough are midfielder Yaser Kasim and wing-back Aaron Phillips, both played significant roles in better overall display at Loftus Road and deserve to retain their places.
The selection of Chris Long also positively influenced the team for two reasons; he himself looked lively and a handful up front while his presence also allowed Billy Waters to flourish in a deeper role.
Long could be partnered by Marc Richards or Alex Revell, if not Waters, and in defence Regan Poole is set to make his competitive Cobblers debut with Leon Barnett suspended.
Brendan Moloney and Shaun McWilliams are back in training but John-Joe O’Toole’s continued absence remains a worry, and of course Sam Hoskins and Sam Foley remain sidelined for the long-term.
Prediction: Northampton Town 1 Fleetwood Town 1