Fixture: Northampton Town v Portsmouth, Sky Bet League One
Date/time: Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 7.45pm kick-off
Venue: Sixfields Stadium, Northampton
Forecast: 13c, rain
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: John-Joe O’Toole (groin), Aaron Phillips (thigh), Sam Foley (knee), Sam Hoskins (knee). Pompey: Oliver Hawkins (facial wound), Jack Whatmough (knee)
Possible line-ups: Cobblers (4-2-3-1): Ingram; Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan; Grimes, McWilliams; Long, Crooks, Smith; Revell. Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGeel Thompson, Burgess, Clark, McCrory; May, O’Keefe; Lowe, Pitman, Kennedy; Chaplin
Betting: Northampton 21/10, draw 12/5, Pompey 29/20
Form guide: Cobblers WDLLL, Pompey: WLDDD
Man in the middle: Darren Drysdale
Last time out: Northampton 1 (Crooks) Doncaster Rovers 0; AFC Wimbledon 0 Pompey 2 (Pitman, Chaplin)
Most recent meeting: May 7, 2016, Fratton Park: Portsmouth 1 (Naismith) Cobblers 2 (Whatmough OG, Collins)
Record v Pompey: P32 W9 D7 L16
Pompey connection: There is one standout connection between the clubs, and that is Ricky Holmes. Unwanted by then Fratton Park boss Andy Awford, Town manager Chris Wilder jumped in to take the winger on loan, and the rest is history. Holmes immediately settled at Sixfields, and was an instant hit with the Cobblers fans as he dazzled in the claret and white. The loan move soon became permanent, and Pompey’s loss was definitely the Cobblers’ gain as Holmes inspired the team to their stunning Sky Bet League Two title success in 2016, with a string of match-winning performances and wonder goals in the second half of that campaign. The love affair with the Cobblers wasn’t to last though, as the ambitious Holmes was tempted away to Charlton Athletic a few weeks after the title celebrations.
Opposition view: Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett: “Hopefully we can take some confidence into the rest of the week because I look at this group of games as a whole. Northampton and Fleetwood this coming Saturday are two fixtures that I’m very much looking forward to.
“When there are a lot of matches in a short space of time, then you want to attack it and get as many points as you can. Both the players and supporters did well on Saturday and we’ll want them to do so again on Tuesday night.
“We got a great backing at Wimbledon. That was to be expected, although I certainly don’t take it for granted.It drove the players on and helped us get a deserved victory, so hopefully it will be a similar story against Northampton.
“A new manager has come in there and they got a great win at the weekend. They’re a tough side to play. We always respect the opposition and analyse them to try to work out their strengths and weaknesses.
“But the main thing is to get your own team sorted because it doesn’t matter how much research you do – if you don’t have good players, then you won’t win.”
Jeremy Casey’s preview: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made an instant impact as Cobblers boss, inspring the team to its first win of the season against Doncaster Rovers on Saturday - now comes the really hard bit.
More often than not a team will experience a bounce with a new manager taking charge, and that was the case for Town at the weekend, with the dream start of that Matt Crooks goal on 21 seconds giving the players confidence, and something to hold on to.
Now they have to try and follow it up with another positive performance just a few days later, against another freshly promoted side in Pompey, who themselves were boosted by their first away win of the season at the weekend, seeing off AFC Wimbledon 2-0.
The Cobblers have to grab the feelgood factor that engulfed Sixfields on Saturday, and keep on running with it.
For the visit of Pompey, I would imagine it will very much be a case of as you were for Hasselbaink who is likely to go for an unchanged team, unless injury or fatigue is a factor.
The injection of pace on the left wing offered by George Smith at the weekend was very welcome indeed, as was the more advanced role for former Rangers man Crooks, who has shown in the past that he has an eye for goal, but found himself lying perhaps a little too deep under previous boss Justin Edinburgh.
Switching to a flat back four was also a smart move, with Brendan Moloney and Dave Buchanan both more comfortable and efftective when utilised as orthodox full-backs, while Matt Ingram in goal more than justified his selection.
Pompey will also arrive at Sixfields in confident mood, even though their start to life in league one following their title success last season has been a spluttering one.
They won on the opening day, seeing off Rochdale at Fratton Park, but didn’t claim a second success until last weekend, when they saw off Wimbledon thanks to goals from Brett Pitman and Conor Chaplin, who will be the main attacking threats for the south coast side.
Width is provided by Jamal Lowe on the right and Matthew Kennedy on the left, with Stuart O’Keefe and 19-year-old Adam May the engine room in midfield - so he should have an intriguing battle with fellow teenager Shaun McWilliams.
Former Cobblers midfielder Danny Rose has found himself out of favour in recent weeks, failing to make the match day squad for the past two games, with Jackett trying to quickly stamp his own identity on the team he inherited from Paul Cook.
Cook is now in charge at Wigan, having ‘done a Chris Wilder’ and left Pompey in the wake of their title success, and Jackett has already sidelined a clutch of last season’s regulars, Gareth Evans being another, as he sets about stabilising the club in league one.
A travelling army of more than 1,000 Pompey fans are expected to make the trip north from the south coast, so a cracking atmosphere is guaranteed, and Hasselbaink, who was delighted with his new team’s performance at the weekend, will be hoping he enjoys that winning feeling once again.
With the Town players’ confidence boosted the win over Rovers, they will be in the mood to make it two wins from two and really get the season moving in the right direction.
Prediction: Cobblers 2 Portsmouth 1