Last Saturday was a fairly positive one for Northampton Town, picking up a point at Bristol Rovers, only five months after the 6-0 hammering the Cobblers received at the hands of Rovers in the reverse fixture at Sixfields.
The match ended 1-1, with debutant Kevin Luckassen scoring the equaliser with his first ever touch for the Cobblers. Luckassen was not only the hero in terms of scoring the equaliser, but he also possessed pace, strength and good game management which allowed Northampton to play in a more dangerous way, something the Cobblers have been lacking since January.
Rovers took the lead after 34 minutes when Kyle Bennett tapped in a rebounded shot from Ellis Harrison. O’Donnell did well to save the original shot, but there was nothing he could do to stop Bennett scoring from close range. Luckassen’s goal came in the 62nd minute, only two minutes after entering the match, as a replacement for the hard-working winger, Gboly Ariyibi.
Northampton then had midfielder Matt Crooks sent off in the 74th minute. Crooks was given a second yellow card after a ‘challenge’ on Rovers midfielder Stuart Sinclair. The reason for saying ‘challenge’ is that, after reviewing the decision a few times, it seems like Crooks makes minimal contact with Sinclair, and the whole incident was a very light one.
Thankfully for the home side, the raucous crowd and the fact Crooks has already been booked played into the referee’s decision to send Matt Crooks off. This was Crooks’ third red card of the season, after being sent off against Southend in September and Walsall in December, meaning the former Rangers midfielder will serve a three-match suspension, starting this Saturday against Rotherham United.
Talking of this Saturday’s contest, Northampton will be hoping to continue their recent form (three games undefeated) against a Rotherham side hoping for a play-off place. The Millers have had a fairly good season so far after being relegated from the Championship in the 2016/17 campaign. They currently sit in 4th position on 62 points, nine points away from an automatic promotion place, and eight points above Plymouth Argyle in 7th place. Despite this, Paul Warne’s side have been struggling for form in recent matches, losing their last two against relegation-battling sides in Rochdale and MK Dons. These results have harmed the Cobblers, as they see the teams around them picking up vital points, but this is an opportunity for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side to pick up a crucial win against a good side.
As for team news, striker Kevin Van Veen is hoping to be included in the squad after recently returning to training following a knee injury suffered over a month ago against AFC Wimbledon. The only players who are certain to miss out are the aforementioned Matt Crooks (suspension), and Aarons Phillips and Pierre who are ruled out with long-term injuries. When asked about Van Veen earlier in the week, Hasselbaink said the following:
“Kevin will train on Thursday and if he comes through that fine he should be okay for Saturday.”
“He had an injection on Monday to clear up a bit of irritation, he’s a fit lad but we will have to fully assess him nearer to the game.”
After correctly guessing the score last week, I am going to be more positive in the hope that I have the power to correctly guess the score, so I will go for a 1-0 Northampton win this Saturday.
Featured Image Credit: Matt Churchill