Jefferson Lake’s Northampton Town v Luton Town preview

CRUEL BLOW - Luke Guttridge scores Luton's late winner against the Cobblers at Kenilworth Road in October
CRUEL BLOW - Luke Guttridge scores Luton's late winner against the Cobblers at Kenilworth Road in October
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Fixture: Northampton Town v Luton Town

Date/kick-off time: Saturday, March 28, 3pm kick-off

Venue: Sixfields Stadium, Northampton

Weather forecast: 12C, rain

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Ian Morris (knee), Kaid Mohamed (broken metatarsal), Ben Tozer (knee), Marc Richards (Achilles), Evan Horwood (groin). Luton: Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu (hamstring), Mark Tyler (knee), Jonathan Smith (leg), Nathan Doyle (knee).

Betting: Cobblers 13/10, draw 5/2, Luton 9/4

Form guide: Cobblers LLWLWW, Luton LLLLLW

Possible line-ups: Northampton (4-2-3-1): Duke; Moloney, Cresswell, Collins, Newey; Byrom, Taylor; Holmes, De Girolamo, D’Ath; Toney. Luton: (3-5-2): Justham; Lacey, McNulty, Wilkinson; Harriman, Guttridge, Drury, McGeehan, Howells; Stockley, Benson

Last time out: Cobblers lost 2-1 to Bury (Holmes), Luton lost 3-2 to Wycombe (Lee 2)

Most recent meeting: Saturday, October 25, 2014 - Luton 1 Cobblers 0 (Guttridge)

Fixtures between the Cobblers and Luton always seem to have something of an edge to them and, with both teams still hunting promotion (Luton more realistically) but out of form, this game will be no exception

Jefferson Lake

Cobblers connection: Teak-tough Irish left-back Fred Murray counts Luton Town as his final professional club and played 76 times for the Hatters between 2009 and 2012. Managed just 44 appearances for the Cobblers in a three-year spell in the mid-2000s, a period which saw Murray miss huge chunks of first-team action with an Achilles injury which became infected.

Jefferson Lake’s preview: While the barman hasn’t quite called time in the last chance saloon, there may not be many opportunities for another round for the Cobblers if they don’t inflict a sixth straight defeat on Luton Town this weekend.

As it stands they are five points off Newport in seventh place, a sizeable gap but one which seems smaller when you take into consideration the fact that there are eight games - and therefore 24 points - left to play for.

The general consensus is that between 70 and 72 points will get you into the play-offs and using that somewhat crude rule of thumb that would mean Northampton taking between 17 and 19 points from their remaining games. Let’s call it six wins.

Therefore, they can only afford to lose two more games. Bear in mind they lost that many last week and it is easy to see why some have already started to think about what might happen next season.

But it’s not beyond them; this is a team which was sweeping all before it not so long ago and although that was with the now absent Marc Richards (who I think we can now say with some certainty is the best player at the club), all of the other attacking elements remain in place.

Ricky Holmes was as fired up as ever at Bury last weekend and took his goal excellently, Diego De Girolamo has added a smoothness of delivery to the forward line and Lawson D’Ath’s trough of poor form can’t go on forever.

They just need to rediscover their spark, and what better game to do precisely that than a tinder box of a semi-derby against a team from 40 miles down the road.

Fixtures between the Cobblers and Luton always seem to have something of an edge to them and, with both teams still hunting promotion (Luton more realistically) but out of form, this game will be no exception.

And then there’s the Luke Guttridge factor.

The midfielder would have been given a warm reception from the supporters of a club which he served with distinction in two spells this weekend had he not celebrated so vociferously in front of them when he scored the Hatters’ 90th-minute winner in the meeting of the sides in October.

For balance, it should be noted that Guttridge - whose final Northampton outing was the 2013 play-off final - apologised after the game, although such words are likely to fall on deaf ears among the supporters.

The player himself is unlikely to be concerned and will probably feel an extra encouragement as a result of any ‘words of advice’ he receives from the Sixfields faithful.

But it will all add up to a fascinating contest and one the Cobblers must win, or it really may be time for last orders.

Prediction: Cobblers 1 Luton 0