James Heneghan's Peterborough United v Northampton Town preview

Fixture: Peterborough United v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One

Sunday, 1st April 2018, 5:09 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st April 2018, 5:20 pm
Shaun McWilliams battle for the ball in August's clash at Sixfields

Date/time: Monday, April 2, 3pm kick-off

Venue: ABAX Stadium

Forecast: 9C, showers

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Outs and doubts: Posh: Ryan Tafazolli (hamstring), Alex Penny (shoulder), Gwion Edwards (ankle). Cobblers: John-Joe O’Toole (suspended - 3/3), Aaron Pierre (calf), Aaron Phillips (calf)

Betting: Peterborough 4/5, draw 11/4, Northampton 16/5

Form guide: Posh DDLWWW, Cobblers LLDLDD

Possible line-ups: Peterborough (4-4-2): O’Malley; Shephard, Taylor, Baldwin, Hughes; Maddison, Grant, Forrester, Lloyd; Morias, Marriott. Northampton (4-4-2): O’Donnell; Facey, Taylor, Turnbull, Buchanan; Ariyibi, Grimes, Crooks, Powell; Mathis, Long.

The 4-1 defeat at Sixfields earlier in the season effectively signalled the end of Justin Edinburgh's reign as Cobblers boss

Man in the middle: Michael Salisbury

Last time out: Rotherham United 1 Peterborough United 1 (Marriott); Northampton Town 0 Charlton Athletic 4

Most recent meeting: Tuesday, October 3, 2017, Checkatrade Trophy – Peterborough United 1 (Lloyd) Northampton Town 1 (Baldwin OG)

Record v Peterborough: P68 W20 D18 L30

Peterborough United boss Steve Evans

Opposition view: “This is a huge game for both clubs,” stated Posh boss Steve Evans. “It must be one of the most important derbies because of what’s at stake. We are fighting for different prizes, but they will be as determined as us to get three points tomorrow.

“In my meeting with the players yesterday I stressed how hungry Northampton will be. They will be hurting after Friday’s result and I would expect a reaction from them.

“But if we look after our own performance and play as well as we can we should be okay, but that’s not guaranteed either. We will have to work very hard and we will have to play much better than we have been playing recently.”

Cobblers connection: Strictly speaking, Peterborough’s razor-sharp striker Jack Marriott never actually played for the Cobblers. However, having moved to Northampton at the age of three, he did run out at Sixfields – twice – as a junior player for Brixworth in local cup finals. A prolific goalscorer even back then, he was 14 when picked up by Ipswich Town. Several loan spells at the likes of Woking, Carlisle and Gillingham later, it was at Luton Town where the goals began to flow at senior level and Marriott made a name for himself. Twenty-eight goals in two seasons at Kenilworth Road was enough to encourage Peterborough to make a move last summer and their gamble has paid off in spectacular fashion. The 23-year-old has 30 goals in 51 appearances this season and with five in his last five, he will surely fancy a few more against Town’s leaky defence in Monday’s derby.

The 4-1 defeat at Sixfields earlier in the season effectively signalled the end of Justin Edinburgh's reign as Cobblers boss

James Heneghan’s preview: Trepidation is the word that best sums up the mood of Cobblers fans as they prepare to make the short trip to Peterborough United for Easter Monday’s local derby.

Beaten 3-0, 1-0 and 4-1 in their three league games against Posh since returning to League One 20 months ago, only the most ardent and the most optimistic of supporters will be predicting anything other than a ninth straight game without victory, a fourth successive league defeat in this fixture and, worst of all, another step towards League Two.

Otherwise, for those realists, the journey to Cambridgeshire will be made much more in hope than expectation, and as for those of a pessimistic disposition, well, anything other than a heavy defeat will be a bonus.

While the Cobblers were being humbled at home by Charlton on Good Friday, Peterborough were snatching a last-gasp, precious point at Rotherham United as Jack Marriott notched his 30th goal of a remarkable campaign in injury-time.

Peterborough’s form, in general, has not been great since the turn of the year. A five-match winless run brought Grant McCann’s tenure to an end in February and his replacement, Steve Evans, has overseen two victories in five games since, leaving them two points and one place outside the play-offs.

Marriott, with 24 league goals, is the obvious danger man for Monday’s game but the Cobblers would be foolish to disregard the importance of Peterborough’s creative force Marcus Maddison who, like Marriott in the division’s scoring charts, leads the way for assists in League One with 16 to his name, four more than any other man.

Peterborough United boss Steve Evans

But as well as worrying about the opposition, Town have many of their own problems to solve. Their defeat to Charlton on Good Friday was alarming for several reasons, not least the apparent lack of fight on show. Again without John-Joe O’Toole’s midfield industry for Monday, they can’t afford for that to be the case in this derby clash when Peterborough, you assume, will be bang up for it.

As well as somehow raising his side’s flaky confidence levels, one of the other most pressing challenges Hasselbaink has on his hands is to find a formation that brings the best out of his players and balances defence and attack. At the moment, the Cobblers cannot score and cannot defend.

The 3-5-2 first used against Shrewsbury showed early promise but it was abandoned before half-time on Friday when Charlton ran Northampton ragged, with Hasselbaink switching to some kind of 4-3-1-2 with Gboly Ariyibi in a floating role.

When situations became as bleak as this one, it’s sometimes best to go back to basics. Play a straightforward 4-4-2, be direct and deploy your best players in their best positions. Ariyibi and Daniel Powell can cause problems out wide, and the likes of Shaun McWilliams or even the lesser-spotted Regan Poole are the type of tenacious midfielders required in a game like this one.

If it is going to be a return to a flat back four, David Buchanan’s experience over Joe Bunney’s attacking thrusts will be needed at left-back while Chris Long and Kevin Luckassen appear the most likely combination up front to cause headaches for opposing defences.

It is difficult to see where the next win is coming from, let alone the three or four required for survival, but this is no time for Town to be feeling sorry for themselves. They might not win on Monday but, if nothing else, at least show some fight.

Prediction: Peterborough United 2 Northampton Town 0