James Heneghan’s Notts County v Northampton Town preview
Fixture: Notts County v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Saturday, April 6, 3pm kick-off
Forecast: 11C, cloudy
Venue: Meadow Lane
Outs and doubts: Magpies: none. Cobblers: George Cox (ankle), Junior Morias (ill), Jordan Turnbull (ankle)
Betting: County 7/5, draw 11/5, Northampton 2/1
Form guide: Magpies WLDWLD, Cobblers LLDWWW
Possible line-ups: County (4-3-3): Scholfield; Tootle, Duffy, Stubbs, Milsom; Rose, Doyle, O’Brien; Boldewijn, Hemmings, Stead. Northampton (4-4-1-1): Cornell; Goode, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan; Hoskins, Foley, Elsnik, Bridge; Bowditch; Sordell.
Man in the middle: Ben Toner
Last time out: Stevenage 0 Notts County 3 (O’Brien, Hemmings, Boldewijn); Northampton 1 (Hoskins) Port Vale 2 (Worrall, Pope)
Most recent meeting: Saturday, September 22, 2018 - Northampton Town 0 Notts County 0
Record v Notts County: P54 W16 D12 L26
Opposition view: “We have had to fight and scrap just to get into contention,” said Neal Ardley on County’s relegation battle. “In my mind this will go down to the very last game of the season.
“Northampton are another team with a lot of height who are strong on set pieces, so we can’t afford a bad day defending those or we’ll have no chance of winning the game.”
James Heneghan’s preview: Saturday’s trip to troubled Notts County takes Cobblers back to the scene of one of the most memorable moments in the club’s recent history – and it didn’t even come on the pitch.
After goals from defenders Brendan Moloney and Rod McDonald helped Northampton to a 2-1 victory at Meadow Lane in 2015, Chris Wilder came out for what was expected to be a routine post-match interview, but there was nothing routine about it.
After a brief chat about the game, Wilder launched into a remarkable rant that will go down in Cobblers folklore. So worked up about the off-field situation, he spent 10 minutes addressing the club’s financial turmoil and pleaded with then-chairman David Cardoza to sell up and let Kelvin Thomas take over.
And it did the trick, or at least played a part, as Thomas finally completed his takeover the following week, saving the club from oblivion and paving the way for Town’s sensational march to the League Two title.
These days, Northampton are in a healthier position off the pitch but it’s on it where they continue to struggle and after Keith Curle delivered a forthright post-match interview of his own last week, the response from his players, not to mention his team selection at Meadow Lane, will be intriguing.
If he does ring the changes, those hoping for an opportunity include Timi Elsnik, bright off the bench in the calamitous defeat to Port Vale, Dean Bowditch, Joe and Daniel Powell and Shay Facey. Curle could also have possibility of calling upon Jordan Turnbull and Junior Morias after both trained this week.
While the Cobblers are running out of things to play for this season, the same most definitely cannot be said for their opponents as Notts County continue a season-long fight to avoid dropping out of the Football League for the first time in the club’s long history.
Kevin Nolan, who led the Magpies to the play-offs only 11 months ago, lasted just five matches of the current campaign, promptly removed from his position when County were marooned to the foot of League Two in August, becoming the first managerial casualty of the EFL season.
The Magpies would remain there for the following seven months. Harry Kewell came and went after 10 games and it’s now Neal Ardley picking up the pieces. Despite some decent results, including last weekend’s 3-0 win at Stevenage, County remain in the bottom two, where they’ve been since mid-November. Their form at Meadow Lane has been particularly poor this season – no team in the division have won fewer home games (4).
But thanks to Yeovil Town’s spectacularly poor run – 11 defeats in 13 – and Macclesfield’s stuttering form, there’s a chink of light for Notts who could finally move out of the bottom two with any positive result against the Cobblers.
Town have a lot less riding on the game but it can work one of two ways: the pressure and tension may prove too much for the Magpies or their added motivation could be all they need to take the points. That said, Northampton too should be desperate to redeem themselves given last week’s horror show.
This question is: will the Cobblers be appeh come 5pm tomorrow?
Prediction: Notts County 2 Northampton Town 2