James Heneghan's Salford City v Northampton Town preview

Fixture: Salford City v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League Two

Friday, 10th January 2020, 10:35 am
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 10:41 am
Sam Hoskins' first-half penalty helped Cobblers to a 2-0 victory over Salford in October. Picture: Pete Norton
Sam Hoskins' first-half penalty helped Cobblers to a 2-0 victory over Salford in October. Picture: Pete Norton

Date/time: Saturday, January 11, 3pm kick-off

Venue: Moor Lane

Forecast: 11C, showers

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Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Alan McCormack, Harry Smith, Shaun McWilliams

Betting: Salford 6/4, draw 12/5, Northampton 2/1

Form guide: Salford WLLWWD, Cobblers WWDLDW

Current league positions: 12th v 9th

Possible line-ups: Salford (4-4-2): Neal; Threlkeld, Hogan, Burgess. Touray; Conway, Towell, Jones, Jervis; Amstrong, Thomas-Asante. Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Goode, Turnbull, Wharton; Lines, Watson, Anderson, Adams, Hoskins; Williams, Oliver.

Man in the middle: Ross Joyce

Last time out: Salford 3 (Burgess, Amstrong, Jervis) Port Vale 0; Burton 2 Northampton 4 (Adams, Watson, Goode, Hoskins)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, October 19, 2019 - Northampton 2 (Hoskins, Turnbull) Salford 0

Record v Salford: P1 W1 D0 L0

James Heneghan's preview: After last weekend's heroics in the FA Cup at Burton Albion, the Cobblers must switch back to business mode as they resume their league campaign with a trip to Salford City on Saturday.

Town's run to the fourth-round of the world's oldest cup competition has provided a welcome and positive distraction from the pressures of challenging for promotion, but ultimately it's in the league where Keith Curle and his players will be judged this season.

And up to this point it's all going rather well. The Cobblers dropped out of the play-offs after not playing last Saturday but they are still very much in the mix, sitting ninth and only two points adrift of fifth place.

Before they host Derby County in the FA Cup, Northampton have three excellent opportunities to consolidate their league position. First it's a trip to mid-table Salford, then the visit of backmarkers Morecambe before heading to out-of-form Leyton Orient.

The transition from non-league minnows to ambitious League Two outfit has not always been a seamless one for Graham Alexander's Salford this season but a spot slap bang in the middle of the table represents a handy first half of the campaign.

After an inconsistent start to the season, the Ammies looked to be edging towards the play-offs with convincing wins against Oldham and Crewe over Christmas, however they go into tomorrow's game off successive defeats to Grimsby and Walsall, leaving them with work to do if their ambitious aspirations are to be met.

A mid-table spot in your first season in the EFL would usually represent an excellent effort but Salford's owners have lofty expectations and Alexander will be under pressure to deliver a promotion challenge, if not this season then next.

But a 3-0 win over Port Vale in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday was a timely boost and the signing of striker Tom Elliott from Millwall on Thursday was a reminder of the financial muscle that comes with having the Class of 92 as owners.

As for the Cobblers, the only minor downside to a cup run is more fixtures and a busier schedule so Curle will need to rotate his squad ahead of six games in the next 21 days.

But it would be wrong to grumble. As Cobblers chase success in both league and cup, it's a time for optimism.

Prediction: Salford City 1 Northampton Town 1