James Heneghan’s Northampton Town v Northwich Victoria preview

Ryan Clarke, who was loaned to Northwich from Salisbury in 2008, could be in line for a rare start this weekend
Ryan Clarke, who was loaned to Northwich from Salisbury in 2008, could be in line for a rare start this weekend

Fixture: Northampton Town v Northwich Victoria, FA Cup

Date/time: Saturday, December 5, 3pm kick-off

Venue: Sixfields

Forecast: cloudy, 10C

Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Paul Corry (knee), John-Joe O’Toole (suspended). Northwich: Iain Howard (shin)

Betting: Northampton 30/100, draw 9/2, Northwich 8/1

Form guide: Cobblers WWWWWD, Northwich LWWWWW

Possible line-ups: Northampton (4-4-2): Clarke, Moloney, McDonald, Diamond, Buchanan, Byrom, Taylor, Potter, Adams, Hoskins, Calvert-Lewin. Northwich (4-3-3): Springhtorpe; Byrne, Astles, Clarke, Duxbury; Ball, Krou, Summerskill; Williams, Bennett, Howard

Man in the middle: Paul Tierney has taken charge of games at Man City, Leeds, West Ham and Southampton this season but on Saturday it’ll be a trip to Sixfields for the Lancashire official, who’s brandished just one red card in 18 matches this term.

Last time out: Northampton 2 (D’Ath, Richards) Yeovil 0; Trafford FC 2 Northwich 0 (Noar, Gumbs)

Cobblers connection: Northampton could have two former Northwich men in their starting XI for this FA Cup second round tie. Joel Byrom was originally signed by Northwich from Clitheroe in 2008 and played 49 times for The Vic before moving on to Stevenage, while goalkeeper Ryan Clarke’s 41 appearances came in the 2008/09 campaign after signing for the club on loan from Salisbury.

James Heneghan’s preview: They may be the lowest ranked team left in the competition and sat four leagues and 91 places below Northampton on the football league ladder, but Northwich Victoria are not a team to be underestimated.

Much like Town, The Vic are flying in the league, sitting six points clear at the top with games in hand, and go into Saturday’s tie in pretty formidable form having won 16 of their 17 league games in a season which has seen them rack up four 4-0 wins, two 6-1s and three 5-1s.

The club’s FA Cup adventure began way back in August and Saturday’s game will be their 10th tie of the competition during a run which has already seen them knock out four teams from higher leagues, including National League side Boreham Wood in a replay which set up tomorrow’s second round showdown.

Northampton can’t say they haven’t been warned.

Named after the then-reigning monarch Queen Victoria, the Evostick League Division One North side have a long and troubled history which dates all the way back to 1874, making them one of the 100 oldest football clubs in the world and one of the oldest 50 clubs in England.

It’s been a bumpy ride over the last decade or so and their recent problems are not too dissimilar to the financial turmoil Northampton have only just clawed themselves out of.

In fact, so deep did their financial problems run, with administration and unpaid bills, and after selling Drill Field, their beloved home for 125 years, that in 2012 disillusioned members of the Supporters’ Trust voted overwhelmingly to form a new fans-run splinter club called 1874 Northwich, who currently play in the North West Counties League Premier Division.

Thankfully, Northampton’s issues have been resolved by Kelvin Thomas, however Northwich serve as a timely reminder of what can happen to any club if they are not properly looked after.

But if Saturday’s game does go to a replay, Northampton will indeed make the trip to Northwich after the Vics returned to the town in July this year having agreed a three-year groundshare agreement with neighbours Witton Albion.

Northwich boss Jim Gannon has close to a full-strength squad available although influential midfielder Iain Howard is a minor doubt with a shin injury.

Saturday will be the first time the Cobblers have hosted a non-league side since 2009 when Luke Gutridge scored twice in a 2-1 win over now League One side Fleetwood Town.

Ricky Holmes is likely to play some part but there will not be too much rotation although Ryan Clarke, Brendan Moloney and Jason Taylor are all possible starters in place of Adam Smith, Josh Lelan and the suspended John-Joe O’Toole.

Irrespective of Northwich’s impressive form and league position, there’s no getting away from the fact that this tie represents a wonderful opportunity for Northampton to reach the third round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2006. And it’s one I fully expect them to seize.

Northampton 4 Northwich 1