James Heneghan's Northampton Town v Oldham Athletic preview
Fixture: Northampton Town v Oldham Athletic, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Saturday, October 27, 3pm kick-off
Venue: PTS Academy Stadium
Forecast: 7C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Shay Facey, Ash Taylor, Junior Morias, Leon Barnett. Latics: Sam Surridge, Ishmael Miller, Zeus De La Paz
Betting: Northampton 7/5, draw 12/5, Oldham 9/5
Form guide: Cobblers WLWWDD, Latics WLWLDD
Possible line-ups: Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Odoffin, Turnbull, Pierre; McWilliams, Foley, O’Toole, Crooks, Bridge; Powell, Williams. Oldham (4-4-1-1): Iversen; Haymer, Clarke, Edmundson, Hunt; Lang, Gardner, Missilou, Nepomuceno; Baxter; O’Grady.
Man in the middle: Players on both sides will have to be on their guard this weekend as no referee in England has handed out more red cards than Charles Breakspear’s eight this season. In fact, no other referee has handed out more than three. The Surrey official is averaging one sending off every two games, dishing out three in one half when Swindon visited Crawley in August.
Last time out: Macclesfield Town 0 Northampton Town 5 (Crooks 3, Powell, Pierre); Oldham Athletic 2 (Benteke, Lang) Cheltenham Town 0
Most recent meeting: Saturday. May 5, 2018 – Northampton Town 2 (Grimes, Taylor) Oldham Athletic 2 (Edmundson, Haymer)
Record v Oldham: P36 W11 D9 L16
Opposition view: “It looks like he (Keith Curle) has made a good start, I’m not sure how many games he’s been there but there has certainly been an upsurge in results,” said Latics boss Frankie Bunn. “Looking at their game at Macclesfield they seem quite attacking with a few options. We’re having a look at their strengths and weaknesses and we’ll look to stop them playing to their strengths.”
Cobblers connection: Having at last established himself as Town’s undisputed number one this season, David Cornell can look forward to facing a familiar foe this weekend. The 27-year-old progressed through Swansea City’s academy as a youngster but, after short loan spells at Hereford, St Mirren and Portsmouth, his first senior appearance in English football came with OIdham Athletic during 2015/16. He made 14 league and three cup appearances with the Latics that season before being released. Cornell seems to have found a settled home at the Cobblers and following two stop-start campaigns, he’s finally first-choice between the sticks.
James Heneghan’s preview: Now that they have finally found themselves a hint of momentum to grasp onto, this next week is the perfect time for the Cobblers to put their foot down and take full advantage of two eminently winnable home fixtures.
First up at the PTS Academy Stadium this weekend is mid-table, inconsistent Oldham Athletic and then comes an erratic Crewe Alexandra side, providing Town with two opportunities to build on Tusday’s crushing victory at Macclesfield Town and dismiss even the notion of being involved in a relegation battle.
Their five-point buffer over the bottom two, and the general improvement in atmosphere around the club, owes mostly to the change of manager. Cobblers have tripled their win tally and more than doubled their points total in half the amount of games under Keith Curle, whose experienced head and calming demeanour has worked wonders so far.
Draws against Bury and Swindon followed by wins over Oxford and Forest Green represented an excellent start to Curle’s tenure but after the blip at MK Dons, you feel Town’s big win at Moss Rose was just the type of complete performance and convincing result they’ve been searching for all season long.
Before anyone gets carried away, there were mitigating circumstances. Macclesfield are bottom of the table, have only seven points and own just one win all season, so Town will need to back up their excellent display with a similarly strong showing against the Latics, who currently sit 12th in League Two after their own victory in midweek, 2-0 at home to 10-man Cheltenham Town.
Oldham joined this weekend’s hosts in dropping down a division last season and it was at Sixfields on the final day of the campaign where their relegation was confirmed, a 2-2 draw not enough to keep them up with Rochdale beating Charlton elsewhere. And like the Cobblers, it’s not been all plain-sailing for Oldham in League Two.
Off-field issues, as well as on-pitch inconsistencies, have blighted their campaign after the club were taken over by Moroccan businessman Abdallah Lemsagam in January. Having faced a winding-up petition in each of the past three years, this month the players threatened to go on strike over unpaid wages. All is not well at Boundary Park and the Cobblers will hope to add to Oldham’s mounting problems on Saturday.
Conventional wisdom suggests Curle will stick with the same team and same formation that played on Tuesday but he’s not necessarily a manager who always goes by convention; in fact he’s already showed during his short reign so far that he’s no stranger to throwing in the odd curveball. With that in mind, it would not come as a major shock should he revert back to 3-5-2, a system he seems to prefer.
Each member of the starting 11 at Moss Rose would be deserving of another start on Saturday but bearing in mind the recent rush of fixtures, and given how Curle likes to tailor his team depending on the opposition, there may well be changes, though hat-trick hero Matt Crooks is one player who can rest easy in the knowledge his place is safe – barring injury.
Town’s most recent memory of playing on home turf is a rare happy one thanks to Andy Williams’ late winner. With confidence growing and momentum building, now is the time to put their foot down.
Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Oldham Athletic 1