Fixture: Northampton Town v Doncaster Rovers, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Saturday, September 9, 3pm kick-off
Venue: Sixfields Stadium, Northampton
Forecast: 16c, showers
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Aaron Phillips (thigh), Sam Foley (knee), Sam Hoskins (knee). Doncaster: Mathieu Baudry (Achilles), Luke McCullough (knee), Danny Andrew (knee)
Possible line-ups: Cobblers (4-3-3): Ingram; Moloney, Pierre, Barnett, Buchanan; Crooks, Grimes, McWilliams; Waters, Revell, Powell. Doncaster (4-4-2): Lawlor; Butler, Mason, Wright, Garrett; Rowe, Whiteman, Blair, Coppinger; Marquis, May
Betting: Northampton 2/1, draw 12/5, Doncaster 13/10
Form guide: Cobblers DLLLL, Rovers: DDLWDW
Man in the middle: Darren Handley
Last time out: Northampton 1 (Revell) Cambridge United 1; Doncaster 0 Peterborough 0
Most recent meeting: December 26, 2007: Doncaster Rovers 2 (McCammon, Lockwood) Cobblers 0
Record v Doncaster: P47 W17 D10 L20
Doncaster connection: There are a couple of ex-Cobblers expected to be the Doncaster line-up tomorrow. Matty Blair, who was on loan at Sixfields for a couple of months in 2014, will be in midfield, while John Marquis will lead the line. The former Millwall man had two successful and significant loan periods with the Cobblers, both under Chris Wilder. His first spell saw him play a vital role in the Cobblers avoiding relegation, scoring key goals as they stayed up, and he was then brought in to help Town get over the line in their title-winning season in 2016. In all, Marquis scored eight times for Town, and would have jumped at the chance to sign for the club permanently, but following Wilder’s departure, he was not in Rob Page’s plans as the Welshman instead signed Alex Revell. Doncaster stepped in and he has been a reveleation at the Keepmoat, scoring 26 goals as the south Yorkshire side were promoted last season.
Opposition view: Doncaster boss Darren Ferguson: “We’ll probably set our lads up against two or three formations and what we need to do with and without the ball. I can’t go on about the opposition because we could prepare one thing and they do another.
“We just have to touch on the more important things. It’s a slightly different week where it’s not as simple as normal when you know what the opposition do. I think it’s an important one for us because we need to get back to winning ways.”
Jeremy Casey’s preview: ‘I bloody hope so...’ That was new Cobblers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s pretty blunt reaction when I asked him if the players would have a spring in their step in training this week.
In truth, every single member of the squad shouldn’t just have a spring in their step, they should be jumping through hoops, straining every sinew to make an impression.
I know players should always try their best every day, and I am sure they do, but there’s nothing quite like a new manager at a club to sharpen the focus, to inspire people to find that little bit extra.
And that’s because it’s now a clean slate.
There will have been no pre-judging from Hasselbaink as he took training at Moulton, preparing to get his team together for the visit of Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.
He and new assistant Dean Austin will have made their judgements on what they have seen out on the training pitch.
Players who may have been out of the picture under Justin Edinburgh, who was sacked last Thursday after just four league matches into the season, know they might now get a sniff of a start.
And those who have been regulars so far this term will suddenly be looking over their shoulder, concerned their place in the team might be under threat.
It’s called competition, and it’s healthy.
Indeed, it’s reminiscent of those old trials to get into the school team, and I bet it has led to a few lively sessions!!
That being the case, trying to work out a starting line up to face Donny is little more than guesswork.
Hasselbaink did hint at Tuesday’s press conference that he will want to ensure the team is solid, which suggests he could flood the midfield.
And if he does that, he’ll have plenty of options, as Town have got a lot of midfielders.
Hasselbaink also pledged to try and get the team playing attacking football, so could it be he’ll go for 4-3-3, with the wide men tasked with strict defensive duties when required.
As I say, it’s total guess work, and only Hasselbaink knows what he will do.
For what it’s worth, here’s my guess at the team, with Matt Ingram going straight into the line-up as goalkeeper, as neither David Cornell or Luke Coddington have looked entirely convincing.
My back four would be Moloney, Barnett, Pierre and Buchanan The midfield three would be Shaun McWilliams, Matt Crooks and Matt Grimes, with a front three of Billy Walters, Alex Revell and Daniel Powell.
But who knows? There will be plenty of guessing going on ahead by the time the teamsheet is released on Saturday, but regardless of which 11 will take to the field, we will surely see an improved Cobblers performance, and one with more attacking intent.
But it is not going to be an easy afternoon for the Cobblers or Hasselbaink.
Doncaster are going to be resilient opponents, we know that already from the fact they have lost just one of their opening five league one fixtures following their promotion last season.
Darren Ferguson is a manager who knows what he is doing, and is somebody with a proven track record, and he will have his team ready for whatever Hasselbaink and the Cobblers throw at him.
Saturday also sees a return to Sixfields for John Marquis, and he is sure to get a warm reception from the Cobblers supporters, many of whom wish he was still running out in the claret and white.
The player was keen on a move to Sixfields after two loan spells with the club, but he wasn’t on then manager Rob Page’s radar and Town’s loss has been Donny’s gain.
The former Millwall man has netted an impressive 28 goals in 55 appearances for the south Yorkshire outift since joining them last summer, and he is sure to give whoever lines up at the heart of the Cobblers defence a torrid afternoon.
Another key man for Doncaster will be the evergreen James Coppinger, who may now be 36, but is still a creative force.
All that said, Hasselbaink has promised to try and put the smiles back on the faces of people around Sixfields.
Of course, a first win of the season would be the best way to do that, but so would a more committed, exciting and attacking performance, regardeless of the result.
Prediction: Cobblers 1 Doncaster 1