Fixture: Burton Albion v Northampton Town (Sky Bet League Two)
Date/kick-off time: Saturday, April 25, 3pm
Venue: The Pirrelli Stadium, Burton-on-Trent
Weather forecast: 17C, rain showers
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Ian Morris (knee), Kaid Mohamed (broken metatarsal), Tom Newey (ankle)
Betting: Cobblers: 10/3, draw: 13/5, Burton: 4/5
The Cobblers can travel to Burton with no fear, with no pressure, and they will go to the Pirelli with a positive attitude because they simply have to win to maintain their slim play-off chancesJeremy Casey
Form guide: Cobblers: WDLLWD, Burton: WDWWDD
Possible line-ups: Cobblers (4-4-2): Jalal, Moloney, Diamond, Collins, Horwood, D’Ath, Taylor, Byrom, Holmes, Toney, Richards. Burton (4-3-3): McLaughlan, Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff, Stewart, Naylor, Mousinho, Weir, McCrory, Beavon, Akins, El Khayati
Last time out: Cobblers beat Cheltenham 2-0, Burton won 1-0 at Morecambe
Most recent meeting: Saturday, October 11, Sky Bet League Two: Cobblers 1 (Cresswell) Burton 2 (Blyth, MacDonald)
Jeremy Casey’s preview: Think back to this time 12 months ago, and the corresponding weekend was one of the most important in the history of Northampton Town Football Club.
With two matches of the season remaining, the Cobblers were in the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone, level on points with Bristol Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers just above them, but second bottom by virtue of their inferior goal difference.
Chris Wilder’s men’s penultimate game of a troubled and at times traumatic season was at mid-table Dagenham & Redbridge, and the team had entered win or bust territory in their bid to preserve their Football League status.
The club’s loyal support rallied, and a huge army travelled to east London to cheer their team on, the ‘Gavin It Large’ crew determined to do their bit from the sidelines, get behind the team and inspire them to a crucial victory - and they did.
On the pitch, Ivan Toney ensured his name will forever be etched into Cobblers folklore with his first two goals for the club in a 3-0 win - one of them a stunning overhead kick.
With Ian Morris scoring a beauty as well, it was a case of fun in the east London sun.
The win meant the team’s fate was in their own hands a week later when Oxford United travelled to Sixfields, and Town again did the business, winning 3-1 on the final day to save themselves and relegate Bristol Rovers instead.
This season the Cobblers go into the 45th game of the league two campaign in much better shape than a year ago.
Once again, a huge army of fans will be on the road to back the team, but this time they will be hoping the Cobblers can claim the win that will keep alive the play-off dream, and scupper Burton’s chances of claiming the league two title on their own ground.
The change in cirumstances over the past 12 months is the most obvious sign of the progress the Cobblers have made under Wilder.
As it stands, Town have accrued 14 more points than at the same stage last term and scored 28 more goals - but they have conceded exactly the same amount (56), and therein lies where the major surgery needs to be undertaken ahead of next season.
But that’s for the future, the here and now sees the Cobblers having a great chance to spoil Burton’s party at the Pirelli, and lay down an early marker for next season.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s men are obviously formidable opponents, having lost just three times on home soil all season.
They have won seven of their past 10 matches, and are unbeaten since February 28, but this is a game the Cobblers can win.
This is a Town team that went to second-placed Shrewsbury and inflicted on them what is still their only home league defeat of the season, a team that went to third-placed Wycombe and were only denied a win by a controversial equaliser EIGHT minutes into stoppage time.
Northampton have the quality to deal with league two’s top teams, there is no doubt about that.
The Cobblers can travel to Burton with no fear, with no pressure, and they will go to the Pirelli with a positive attitude because they simply have to win to maintain their slim play-off chances.
And if Town get on the front foot, the definitely have the firepower with the likes of Marc Richards, Toney, Ricky Holmes and Lawson D’Ath to hurt a Burton team that might just feel the pressure of playing in front of an expectant full house.
A full house that is anticipating a post-match title celebration - and Wilder and his men would love nothing more than to rain on that parade.
Case’s prediction: Burton 1 Cobblers 2