Northampton Town – meeting the opposition.

Tranmere, after picking up four points in two games on the road, return home this Saturday where they will come up against Northampton Town.

Town have had a successful start to the new campaign, currently placed in the play-offs one point away from their upcoming hosts. They’ve won their last two games convincingly and Sam Hoskins has proved a threat with five goal involvements in 14 games. 

To find out more about the Cobblers, I spoke to @CobblersToMe about the club they support, Micky Mellon’s Whites and the upcoming game.

How long have you been a Northampton Town supporter and how did you first come across the club?

My Dad first took me to watch The Cobblers in the early 90’s. I don’t remember much from back then other than the odd good result here or there. It was the 96/97 season that we became regulars, getting our first season ticket in 98/99 after we had our back to back Play-Off final appearances.

What are your best and worst experiences while watching Town?

The promotions have to be the best experiences I’ve had. The 2015/16 League Two Champions season will live long in the memory for sure. So will the night we beat Liverpool on penalties in the League Cup at Anfield in 2011. We might have been soaked to the bone but what a game!

As for worst, there’s been loads! Too many to mention probably. We’ve come close to going out of the league on many occasions and it’s those seasons where I’ve found myself not enjoying the experience.

Random fact about the club / the area?

Entertainer and British legend, Des O’Connor used to play for us.

We’re a fair bit of games into the league campaign but what are your thoughts and expectations for the months ahead and how do they compare to those that you had this time last season?

On a personal level, my expectations for this season are to be pushing for promotion. We should be a top end League Two, lower League One club at the moment, anything less is not good enough. That’s not meant to be arrogant, it’s purely our expectation as a fanbase.

Last year was a dreadful season. We should have stayed in League One but we played dire football and our recruitment was awful after losing players like Charlie Goode and Vadaine Oliver to a higher level. Lessons need to have been learned from that and I think we’re at the start of a new era at Northampton with Jon Brady and Colin Calderwood in charge.

Former U16s and U18s manager Jon Brady was given the senior role in the summer. What are your thoughts on him and his style of play so far?

Jon Brady has instilled a lot of passion back into the club. There was a disconnect between the club and the fans under Keith Curle. It wasn’t entirely Keith’s fault, lockdown had a large part to play but the players we had were awful and the style of play was turgid. Brady has promised to get us playing football again and we’re now starting to see that now the lads have a bit of confidence in themselves. I don’t think we’ll see the best of what Jon is wanting to do this season. There are still some holes in the squad that need filling to really get the “bums off seats” exciting football Brady promised us over the summer.

Who is the owner of the club, what are your thoughts on them and are there any current projects that are bringing upon some excitement?

Oh now you’re opening a can of worms! David Bower is the owner of the club. He is a retired lawyer who lives in Dubai. He’s been to watch the Cobblers about 6 times in the nearly 6 years he has owned the club. Some fans aren’t convinced he has the best interests of the club at heart because of this. The frontman for the ownership is Chairman Kelvin Thomas. Thomas was previously at Oxford and Torquay. There is a lot to go into here but the long and short of it is that they came to the club in 2015 when we nearly went bust after the previous owner “lost” £10.25 million that was loaned to the club by the council to redevelop the stadium. The one stand that this redevelopment centred around is still not complete despite many discussions between the club and council. The most recent development on that front was some CGI pictures of how the stand will look when completed, being unveiled back in the summer. We’ve not heard much about it since then but the Supporters’ Trust have stated they no longer back the deal the club have put on the table to the council. It’s all one big, complicated issue.

Who are your key players and danger men?

Kion Etete is one to watch for sure. The on-loan front man from Spurs is a handful and finally got off the mark on Tuesday against Stevenage. He will terrorise any defender but can be a bit weak and gets lots of fouls given against him. He’s a raw and exciting talent.

If we are to take a look at the recruitment the Cobblers did this summer, what are your thoughts on the completed incomings and outgoings? Would you have wanted much more to have happened?

I’m fairly happy with this season’s recruitment. Our biggest issue last year was our goalkeeper and we have more than rectified that problem with the addition of Liam Roberts from Walsall. He has been immense between the sticks so far and it’s obvious that the rest of the team have full confidence in him.

Jon Guthrie has also been another stand-out addition to the side. The defender has scored a fair few goals from set pieces already and formed a great partnership with Fraser Horsfall.

Our attacking recruitment could have been better but it’s beginning to come good with the likes of Mitch Pinnock becoming a big threat on the wing.

The only players who left at the end of last year that Cobblers fans would have liked to have stayed are Lloyd Jones (Cambridge) and Ryan Watson. Watto was a favourite, having spent two spells at Sixfields and scoring the opening goal in the Play Off Final against Exeter. We haven’t missed either of them though.

What do you think of the hosts, Tranmere, as a club in general and what are your thoughts on the team and the Scotsman they’re managed by?

Being in my late 30’s I remember Tranmere being a big, Division 1 club. I haven’t been for a while but I always enjoy going to Prenton Park. It feels like a proper stadium and the fans can get right behind their team.

I don’t know much about Micky Mellon other than he has done well for Tranmere in his previous spell. Perhaps his move to Dundee United was a bit of a step up too far and it’s nice to see him back at Tranmere where he had some success.

To finish our conversation off, what is your score prediction for the upcoming League Two encounter at Prenton Park?

I think it’s going to be a good challenge for both teams this game. It’s 5th vs 6th and we’ve played some right old rubbish teams lately so it will be good to see where we’re at.

I’m feeling positive after our last two results. The players look confident and we’ve found a formation and starting eleven which seems to have clicked into gear. I’m going for a 2-1 Cobblers win but I’ll be happy with a draw. 

Tranmere signed Ryan Watson this summer, the attacker having spent two years and two loan spells at Sixfields.

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