Northampton Town F.C meeting the opposition.

Northampton Town F.C meeting the opposition.

Looking for their first win in five, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere travel to the East Midlands on Saturday afternoon as they face Jon Brady’s Northampton Town. It’s a clash that sees two promotion candidates come head to head.

Rovers are on a poor run of form at the moment, their last three of four League games have been away from home and their opponents have managed to take a point or three from them in all outings. The hosts on those occasions were: Walsall, Hartlepool and Newport County. 

Similar to Newport, The Cobblers are a side in which a Tranmere win would really make their potential for promotion evident. However, victory will only be achieved with a performance of great effort and quality against opposition of high standard.

Northampton have been on a tricky run themselves as Brady’s side have failed to win in their last three. However, their results haven’t had too much of an impact on their home form as they have picked up four points in their last two fixtures played at Sixfields – comfortably beating Colchester United before drawing against Rochdale.

Ahead of the highly anticipated tie at The Sixfields Stadium, I spoke to Charles Commins from ‘It’s all Cobblers to me’ who gave me his thoughts on Northampton, Tranmere and the upcoming game in general. He also mentioned a game in the Christmas period of 2014 which enabled some changes to be made that ensured promotion would soon be achieved.

What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as we close in on the final stages of the campaign? 

Before the season most Cobblers fans would have been happy with a top half finish but having got ourselves into 2nd place, our expectations have now risen to match. There’s still a worry that we won’t be able to maintain that position but hopefully we’ll cement it a little on Saturday.

Jon Brady was appointed manager of Northampton Town last year following his time as manager of the club’s u18s. How would you describe his time at the club so far and are you optimistic about the future with him at the helm? What playing style has he implemented on his side?

Despite never playing for the Cobblers, Brady is seen as a local here in Northampton. He assembled a backroom staff who are all local and have an existing connection with the club. His assistant, Colin Calderwood, managed us to promotion from League 2 back in 2006 and Marc Richards was captain of our League Two title winning side under Chris Wilder in 2016.

Our playing style under Brady is fairly direct at times but we like to use our wingers, Hoskins and Pinnock to get the ball into the box. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been working that much of late and trying to see the style can be difficult.

Who are the owners of The Cobblers and what is their current relationship with the fanbase like? Are there any current projects worth keeping an eye on from neutrals?

Kelvin Thomas and David Bower have been in control at Sixfields since 2015 and have been trying to work with the council on a deal that will enable the development of the East Stand at Sixfields to be completed. In that time the relationship with the majority of fans has been fine but there has been a breakdown in the one between the club and the Supporters’ Trust. It’s a very long story but the situation looks like it may be close to a resolution in the coming weeks and months.

Who would you say are Northampton’s key players and what are the battles where the game may be won or lost on Saturday afternoon?

Mitch Pinnock is our standout player. The number 11 has 11 assists to his name so far this season and scored his 5th goal on Tuesday night. You’ll want to keep him quiet to take the points on Saturday. 

On top of the key playing battles, how do you see the fixture panning out in terms of your score prediction and what have you made of Tranmere’s league season so far? 

The last time we faced off it was 5th v 6th and Tranmere seemed to go on a poor run after losing to us at Prenton Park. You’ve recovered well though and are back up at the top of the table. It will be interesting to see how the game pans out. The Cobblers haven’t been in the best of form recently, picking up 6 points in our last 5 games. Tranmere meanwhile seem to be in worse form with only a win and a draw in their last 4. A win for either side could reignite their promotion push. I just hope it’s us.

Northampton won the encounter at Prenton Park earlier in the campaign, in late October, 2-0. What were your thoughts on the performances of both sides that day?

I expected more from Tranmere that day to be honest as I never felt like we were really under any threat. Truth be told, I still think that’s the best performance we’ve had this season. Unfortunately, since then we’ve lost Kion Etete – he was recalled from his loan by Spurs in January – who ran your defence ragged. 

What do you believe will be Jon Brady’s selected eleven?

We’ll likely go with Roberts in goal with Magloire, Horsfall and Guthrie making up the back 3. Koiki and McGowan at wing back with Hoskins and Pinnock in front of them. Then we’ll have McWilliams alongside Lewis in midfield and Apprere up front.

There have been many previous encounters between Tranmere Rovers and Northampton Town. However, what are your stand out moments from the fixtures that you’ve experienced?

The one that sticks out for me actually happened after a game at Prenton Park. Chris Wilder was in charge and ran out 2-1 winners. It was a Christmas match in 2014 and Wilder wasn’t happy with the performance. It spelt the end for 11 players as Wilder rang the changes during the January transfer window. The following season we won League 2.

The Cobblers are on a tough run of form at the moment. How great do you think the transfer business conducted in January will have a say on your side’s improvement as the season goes on?

At the moment, the talk of the recruitment in January is around who we didn’t bring in. Several strikers were brought in to replace Etete but Brady was unable to bolster his options in central midfield. It’s the one place we’ve shown a real weakness in in recent weeks.

Sixfields Stadium, the home of Northampton Town F.C who are the hosts on Saturday afternoon.

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