Jeremy Casey's Stourbridge versus Northampton Town preview
Fixture: Stourbridge v Northampton Town, FA Cup second round
Date/time: Tuesday, December 13, 7.45pm kick-off
Venue: War Memorial Athletic Ground, Stourbridge
Forecast: 8C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Stourbridge: Jordan Archer (cup-tied), Brad Birch (knee). Cobblers: JJ Hooper (thigh), Brendan Moloney (knee), John-Joe O’Toole (suspended – 2/2), Zander Diamond (fractured cheekbone)
Betting: Stourbridge 15/2, draw 17/4, Northampton 2/5
Form guide: Stourbridge WWWWWD, Cobblers wLLLLD
Possible Northampton team (4-4-2): Cornell; Phillips, Zakuani, Nyatanga, Buchanan; McCourt, Taylor, Hoskins, Anderson; Revell, Richards
Man in the middle: Andy Davies
Last time out: Ashton United 0 Stourbridge 2 (Benbow, Brown); Port Vale 2 Northampton 3 (Zakuani, Hoskins, Anderson)
Opposition view: Stourbridge midfielder Tom Tonks: “It is going to be really tough against Northampton. They are expected to turn up and roll us over quite easily but that is not going to happen.
“We are aware of their quality. They have the likes of Matty Taylor, Alex Revell – they have scored goals at a very good level. We know how tough it is going to be but we will give it a good go.
“We are massive underdogs but we are preparing well and winning games. I think they have only won one in seven so if we get an early goal they might feel a little bit of pressure. Hopefully we can hold out and take our chances.”
Jeremy Casey’s preview: The Cobblers have not been strangers to being the victims of an FA Cup giant-killing here and there, with the odd humiliation thrown in over the years.
There have been a clutch of defeats to non-League sides, the most recent being at then-Conference side Luton Town in 2011.
Supporters of a certain age will still shudder at the words ‘Canvey Island’, when the Cobblers lost 1-0 to the Essex side in 2001 in front of the nation, with the game being shown live on a Sunday lunchtime on BBC1.
Yep, Alan Hansen got to talk about the ‘terrible defending’ of Kevan Broadhurst’s men, and Cobblers supporters simply had to sit and take it.
Venture further back still, and there are defeats against the likes of Yeovil Town, Crawley Town, Barnet, and a painful 2-0 loss at Leatherhead back in 1976.
There have of course also been many occasions when the Cobblers have avoided embarrassment and seen off non-League teams, and manager Rob Page will be hoping that is going to be the case when he sends his team out to take on Stourbridge on Tuesday night.
The odds are certainly in favour of a Cobblers victory.
They are a mid-table Sky Bet League One side, while Stourbridge are eighth in the Evo-Stik Northern League Premier Division - a gulf between the clubs of 89 places on the football pyramid.
The Cobblers squad is full of seasoned, full-time professionals, with 1,000s of Football League games and 100s of FA Cup matches under their belt, while Stourbridge is a squad full of honest, hard-working non-League players, many of whom started out at professional clubs before being released, with a handful of League appearances to their names.
The Cobblers play week in and week out in front of 1,000s of supporters, they are used to that big matchday experience - the crowds at Stourbridge hover around the 750 mark.
But the War Memorial Ground will be bursting at the seams with 2,500-plus expected to as the home fans dream of claiming a slice of FA Cup glory, while the 400 travelling Cobblers supporters will be doing their bit to ensure their boys can safely negotiate what is going to be a tricky hurdle.
The Cobblers are sure to field a full-strength team, and aside from John-Joe O’Toole’s suspension and the injuries to Zander Diamond, Brendan Moloney and loan man JJ Hooper, Page has a full squad to select from.
The Town boss will have to decide whether to stick with the team that won 3-2 at Port Vale last weekend, a day when he opted to play two up front in Marc Richards and Alex Revell.
It was a big result that lifted the gloom that was threatening to engulf Sixfields after four straight league defeats, and assuming the 11 players involved at Vale (Town didn’t make any substitutions) haven’t suffered any sort of reaction or are jaded in any way, it could be that Page will go with the same team.
The manager was delighted with the attitude and commitment at Vale Park, and an away day at an in-form non-League team looks tailor-made for the physical presence of two experienced targetman - and they don’t come much more experienced than Richards and Revell.
The Town team is packed full of seasoned professionals, and Page will be banking on the likes of his front two, as well as Dave Buchanan, Gaby Zakuani and Matt Taylor to steer the team through to a third round trip to Wycombe Wanderers.
Stourbridge for their part will be fired up and full of confidence.
This is their big night, and they will surely be inspired by playing in front of a full house against a strong league one team.
They will have an extra spring in their step, they will raise their game, and as their current record of five straight wins and no losses in nine games suggests, they are a team that knows what they are doing.
So it is going to be tough, it is going to be a test, and there could be some scary moments. but I think this Cobblers team has too much about it, too much experience and too much qualoty not to get the job done and shatter the the Glassboys’ FA Cup dream.
Prediction: Stourbridge 1 Northampton Town 3