Striker Richards hoping his goal-den touch continues against Oxford
Thinking of matches against Oxford United always brings a smile to the face of Cobblers striker Marc Richards.
The Town skipper has been the match winner on the past two occasions the clubs have met.
He smashed home a penalty last February to seal a 1-0 win at the Kassam Stadium as the Cobblers marched towards the Sky Bet League Two title, and then on Boxing Day at the same venue he tucked home the late winner as Town secured another win by the same scoreline.
It seems the 34-year-old has a liking for hitting the target against Oxford, and he will be hoping that run continues at Sixfields on Saturday - especially as this has become something of a grudge match in recent years.
There was always a keen competitive edge when these clubs met, but recent events, such as Chris Wilder quitting the Kassam mid-season to take the Cobblers job, and Us boss Michael Appleton’s insistence on his team ‘being the best in league two’ as they finished 13 points bhind champions Town last season have upped the animosity.
And Richards can’t wait for the match to start.
“It is is always a feisty atmosphere and it tends to be a cagey match,” said the Town captain.
“We have come out on top a few times over the past couple of seasons, and hopefully we can do that again.
“I have also scored a few goals in the past few seasons against Oxford, and I always seem to score against them, so hopefully, touch wood, that occurs again.”
And on the extra edge to this fixture, Richards said: “It has been built up over recent seasons, with the whole Chris Wilder thing, both teams getting promoted last season, and them being better than us!
“All that sort of nonsense.
“At the end of it, it is 11 against 11 and if we do the things that we are good at and stick to our game plan then we can come out on top.”
Asked if Appleton’s bizarre gamesmanship still rankles with the Cobblers players, Richards said: “There aren’t too many players left from last season are there? But it is what it is, and it is just mind games.
“We have taken a lot of points off them over the past couple of seasons, and hopefully that continues on Saturday.”
A big 7,000-plus crowd is expected at Sixfields, with the Cobblers needing a win to secure their league one safety, and the Us hoping to keep alive their play-off hopes, which were hit by Tuesday’s 4-2 home defeat to Bolton Wanderers.
There will be pressure, and Richards will revel in it.
“When you are playing against teams like Oxford, Peterborough, the local teams, it certainly brings that bit of edginess to the game,” he said.
“It is something that you thrive on as a player, or at least I certainly do.
“Some players might get a little bit nervous, but for myself it is something I thrive on, and to pick up a goal and maybe three points would be lovely.”