Fixture: Coventry City v Northampton Town, Emirates FA Cup first round
Date/time: Saturday, November 7, 3pm kick-off
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Forecast: 14C, showers
Outs and doubts: Coventry: Out - Reda Johnson, Jordan Willis, James Maddison. Doubt: Joe Cole. Cobblers: Out - Ricky Holmes (back), Paul Corry (knee). Doubts - Ryan Cresswell (groin), Joel Byrom (hip)
Betting: Coventry 8/11, draw 11/4, Northampton 7/2
Form guide: Sky Blues WWDDDW, Cobblers DWWLWL
Possible line-ups: Coventry City (4-2-3-1): Burge; Phillips, Ricketts, Martin, Haynes; Thomas, Fleck; Lamieras, O’Brien, Murphy; Antoine-Fortune . Northampton (4-2-3-1): Smith; Furlong, Diamond, McDonald, Buchanan; Taylor, O’Toole; D’Ath, Adams, Hoskins; Richards.
Man in the middle: Darren Hendley takes charge at the Ricoh. Hendley is only in his second season on the League list and has only taken charge of a Cobblers match on one previous occasion, which was the 1-1 draw at York City early last season. Handley has twice refereed Coventry, with both games ending in the draws (2-2 v Southend United & 0-0 v Chesterfield).
Last time out: Coventry City 4 (Armstrong 2, Cole, Kent) Barnsley 3; Newport County 2 Northampton Town 2 (Hoskins, Richards)
The fantastic travelling support the team have received recently will reach new levels tomorrow, with anything up to 2,500 Cobblers fans expected to make the short trip the Ricoh for what could be the club’s final away tripJeremy Casey
Most recent meeting: January 6, 1990, FA Cup third round at the County Ground, Northampton: Northampton Town 1 (Berry) Coventry City 0
Opposition view: Coventry City manager Tony Mowbray is concerned at the amount of injuries affecting his squad, a situation not helped ahead of the Cobblers game by the fact that star loanees Adam Armstrong and Ryan Kent aren’t allowed to play: “We’ve got some options but it’s just the numbers really. The list of injuries is quite long so we’ve decided to give three young players squad numbers for the weekend (Ben Stevenson, Dion Kelly-Evans and Bassala Sambou). There’s no fresh injuries, but we manage people as they go along, the likes of Chris Stokes and Joe Cole. It’s an important process we’ve got to manage for what is a tough game.”
Cobblers connection: There have been plenty of ex-Coventry players who have turned out for the Cobblers in recent seasons, with the likes of Clive Platt, Marcus Hall, Liam Davis, Kevin Thornton and Roy O’Donovan making the switch from the Ricoh to Sixfields. Another connection is manager Aidy Boothroyd, who enjoyed a short spell as Sky Blues boss before landing for stint as Cobblers boss, via Colchester United.
Jeremy Casey’s preview: The season to date has been a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows for Cobblers supporters.
On the pitch the team have been playing some fantastic football and getting some excellent results.
Off it, well, we all know about the problems off it.
Everything that can be crossed is being crossed that those much-publicised off-field problems are sorted ahead of the winding-up petition hearing at the High Court on November 16.
Everybody has their opinion of what might happen, on who is to blame for the club’s precarious state, and how it will all be resolved.
For every positive Cobblers fan believing everything is going to be okay and there will still be a bright future, there will be another fearing the absolute worst, that this great club so many people love so deeply could cease to exist.
The situation the club has found itself in has led to an amazing show of financial support, and not just from Cobblers fans, but from football fans all over the country as the admirable Northampton Town Supporters Trust try to raise money to keep the club afloat.
The problems have also led to amazing support from the stands, with the club’s fans rallying round their team, and as Alan Knill acknowleded this week, it has brought everybody at the club even closer together than they were previously.
“I have found that at clubs I have been at before where there have been financial problems, that everybody gets closer because everybody is in the same position,” said the Town assistant manager.
“Whereas before you can sometimes get an ‘us and them’ with office staff and players, now it’s not. We are all in the same position and it brings everybody closer together.”
The fantastic travelling support the team have received recently will reach new levels tomorrow, with more than 2,500 Cobblers fans expected to make the short trip the Ricoh for what could be the club’s final away trip.
That is obviously the doomsday scenario, but it is a possibility that unfortunately can’t be ignored, and that should lead to a special atmosphere inside the fabulous Ricoh Arena as the Cobblers fans display their love for their club.
That support is sure to give the Town players a huge lift as they take to the field, for a game that is certainly a winnable one for Chris Wilder’s men.
Coventry City at full strength would undoubtedly provide a massive challenge for the Cobblers.
Flying high in league one and scoring plenty of goals, the Sky Blues are enjoying a fantastic season.
But they are not at full strength, far from it in fact.
They are without loanee and leading scorer Adam Armstrong, with his parent club Newcastle United not wanting the 18-year-old cup tied, and that is a massive loss to City boss Tony Mowbray.
The teenager has scored 12 goals in just 14 starts this season, and scored crucial match-winning doubles in the team’s most recent victories, 3-2 against Peterborough United and 4-3 against Barnsley.
Also unable to play is livewire Livepool forward Ryan Kent as the Reds don’t want him inelligible for future rounds, while central midfield lynchpin Romain Vincelot is also missing.
The 30-year-old Frenchman is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season in the win over Barnsley, and is going to be a big miss.
Joe Cole is also struggling to be fit for the game, and it all means that although Coventry will still be a strong side, and will still go into the game as favourites, there has to be a chink of light there for the Cobblers.
Wilder will be keen for Joel Byrom to recover from his hip injury as he is a key man in the middle of the field, the left-footer offering balance, and it is likely Town will match up the Coventry 4-2-3-1 formation, which could mean an immediate recall to the starting line-up for Lawson D’Ath after his suspension.
This is a game the Cobblers, with the players able concentrate solely on on-field matters after the PFA stepped in to pay the wages that weren’t paid last week, should attack with relish.
I anticipate Town will get on the front foot from the word go if they possibly can, and have a real go.
Both teams have goals in them, while both teams are also liable to lapses at the back, so it could be a high-scoring affair.
The travelling army of Cobblers fans will certainly be hoping for something to cheer, and I have a feeling their team might just produce for them on what is going to be an emotional day.
This is the first meeting between these clubs since the Cobblers’ 1-0 giant-killing win over the then top-flight Sky Blues way back in 1990.
Steve Berry was the Town goalscoring hero on that rainy day at the old County Ground, and Saturday’s game offers the chance for a current Town player to etch his name in club folkore.
And whether that will be a player scoring a winner, grabbing a last-gasp equaliser or saving a penalty, the club’s supporters will simply be hoping there are going to be many more chances for Cobblers players to make history in the future.
Because that is the most important thing, that there is a future for the club.
Nothing else really matters.
Prediction: Coventry City 2 Northampton Town 2