James Heneghan's Northampton Town v Wycombe Wanderers preview
Fixture: Northampton Town v Wycombe Wanderers, Checkatrade Trophy
Date/time: Tuesday, September 4, 7.45pm kick-off
Venue: PTS Academy Stadium
Forecast: 16C, cloudy
Betting: Northampton 7/5, draw 5/2, Wycombe 9/5
Form guide: DWLDDD, Wycombe DDWDLD
Possible Cobblers team: Ward, Odoffin, Barnett, Turnbull, Buchanan, Foley, O’Toole, Whaler, Bowditch, Waters, Williams
Man in the middle: Darren Drysdale
Last time out: Northampton 1 (Morias) Tranmere 1; Wycombe 1 (Jacobson) Luton 1
Most recent meeting: Tuesday, August 14, 2018 – Wycombe 1 (Williams) Northampton 1 (Hoskins)
James Heneghan’s preview: The Checkatrade Trophy does little to get the juices flowing for fans and players alike but Tuesday’s clash with Wycombe Wanderers – the first of three group games – might be just what the Cobblers need to release the shackles and find their shooting boots again.
Clearly, how Town fare in this competition will ultimately have little significance in the overall context of their season but when you are given the opportunity to improve on a record of one win from seven games, you’d be wise to make the most of it.
Dean Austin and his side’s first assignment this campaign was to rediscover the art of winning but that is taking a little longer than originally hoped after last week’s morale-boosting victory at Colchester United was followed by Saturday’s familiar tale of frustration against Tranmere Rovers.
The visit of Wycombe, however, is their latest opportunity to claim three (admittedly less precious) points again as they look to escape from Southern Group F where they’ll also face Oxford United and Fulham U21s.
It was only last month when Cobblers and Wycombe were embroiled in a penalty shoot-out having drawn 1-1 in the Carabao Cup, and tonight’s game will have a similar ending should there again be nothing to separate them.
Town became penalty-taking experts in this competition last term when they won shoot-outs in all three games to qualify from the group – despite not actually winning a game – before losing to Portsmouth in the first knock-out round.
Predicting the team for tonight’s game is a near-impossible task but what you can say with certainty is that Austin will be making wholesale changes and giving his fringe players, plus some youngsters, chances to impress.
Neither John-Joe O’Toole nor Shaun McWilliams can be described as fringe players as such but, for different reasons, both have seen their game-time limited so far and will hope to start making amends with some minutes tonight.
They could be joined by the likes of Leon Barnett, Lewis Ward and Billy Waters as they all look to lay their claim for a starting spot on Saturday when Cheltenham are the visitors in the league, while academy prospects Sean Whaler and Morgan Roberts may also get a run-out.
This much-maligned competition is often a source of ridicule among fans but it’s unlikely to go away any time soon so while Town may have far more important fish to fry this season, the benefit of cup success shouldn’t be underestimated.
Prediction: Northampton Town 2 Wycombe Wanderers 1