Jeremy Casey's Chesterfield versus Northampton Town preview
Fixture: Chesterfield v Northampton Town, Sky Bet League One
Date/kick-off time: Saturday, September 17, 3pm kick-off
Venue: Proact Stadium, Chesterfield
Weather forecast: 16C, cloudy
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Raheem Hanley. Chesterfield: Sam Hird (groin), Connor Wilkinson (groin), Lloyd Allinson (thigh)
Betting: Chesterfield 13/10, draw 5/2, Northampton 9/4
Form guide: Cobblers WWDDDD, Chesterfield: DLWLLW
Likely line-ups: Northampton (4-1-4-1): Smith; Moloney, Diamond, Nyatanga, Buchanan; McCourt; Beautyman, O’Toole, Taylor, Gorre; Revell. Chesterfield: Fulton, McGinn, Donohue, Hird, Anderson, Ariyibi, Mitchell, Liddle, Nolan, O’Shea, Evans
Man in the middle: Robert Jones
Last time out: Northampton Town 2 (Taylor, Revell - pen) Walsall 0; Oldham 0 Chesterfield 0
Most recent meeting: January 25, 2014 - Cobblers 1 (Carter - pen) Chesterfield 3 (Gardner, Roberts, Gnanduillet)
Record v Chesterfield: P41 W10 D13 L18
Opposition view: Chesterfield boss Danny Wilson: “Northampton have certainly found their feet very quickly in our league, so have to give them utmost respect.
“To go 31 games unbeaten is some feat at any level, and that breeds confidence as you would expect. We are expecting a very difficult afternoon, they will be very hard to break and they are organised.
“I don’t think there’s any great expectation on their shoulders, so they can just go out and play to their gameplan.
“They don’t have to go out and entertain, they don’t have to go out and be this swaggering team that has all this flair in it.
“They are very, very, very good at what they do, and we have to be very clever in our approach work if we are going to try and break them down.”
Jeremy Casey’s preview: And the challenges keep coming for the Cobblers...
Rob Page’s men have enjoyed an excellent start to life in Sky Bet League One.
They are unbeaten in their seven games to date, sit in eighth place in the table, and have won their past two matches.
Both of those wins came at Sixfields, against Milton Keynes Dons and Walsall, and the challenge now facing the Cobblers is to secure that first win on the road.
Page’s team have secured three stalemates on their travels to date, drawing 1-1 at Charlton Athletic and Coventry City and 0-0 at Oldham Athletic, and the relentlessness of league one means that a fourth draw at the Proact Stadium would be more than acceptable.
The Cobblers are still finding their feet at the higher level, but in the past two games they have shown they are adapting pretty quickly, and such is the quality they possess they are more than capable of seeing off the Spireites.
Remarkably, Town have yet to fall behind in the league this season, and confidence is high in the Sixfields camp which means they will travel north on Saturday expecting to get something from the game.
I mean let’s face it, if a team can’t be confident when it is on a 31-game unbeaten league run, when will it be?
Town’s form on the road is even more impressive, having not lost in almost a year.
The last time they came second best in a league game on the road was a 2-1 defeat at Cambridge United on October 17, 2015 - they will be desperate to maintain that form at Chesterfield, and are well capable of doing so.
The team has been solid defensively all season, and in the past few games has started to find their attacking feet as well, which is a recipe for success in any division.
So what team will Page pick for the trip?
Speaking to the Town manager earlier this week he hinted he may stick to the same team that has beaten Milton Keynes and Walsall, but there may be a case for tightening things up just a little.
The past two home games saw the Cobblers field very attack-minded teams, with Kenji Gorre, Paul Anderson and Harry Beautyman operating behind the excellent striker Alex Revell.
To add just a touch more steel, there could be a case for one of Anderson - who is still striving for full fitness after a serious injury and Gorre - who is struggling for form - dropping out.
That could see Beautyman moving back out wide and John-Joe O’Toole returning to bolster the central midfield area, as Page won’t want to play too open on the road, but otherwise I can’t see any other alterations.
Chesterfield are a team that are expected to be involved at the top end of the table come the end of the season, but they are in a difficult spell, having not won in the league since August 16.
They stopped the rot of three straight league defeats with a 0-0 draw at Oldham last weekend, and will be keen to get their season back on the right track against the Cobblers.
Their main attacking threat comes from Ched Evans, with the controversial striker trying to rebuild his career at the Proact.
He has started every game for Chesterfield so far after more than four years out of the game, and has scored four goals so far - although he has failed to net in the past four.
On paper, you would have to say the Cobblers are favourites going into this game.
They may be league one new boys, but Page’s team are looking like the real deal more and more each week.
They seem to overcome every hurdle that is put in front of them, and are capable of doing so again this weekend.
Case’s prediction: Chesterfield 1 Northampton Town 2