Jeremy Casey's Northampton Town versus Crawley Town preview
Fixture: Northampton Town v Crawley Town, Sky Bet League Two
Date/time: Tuesday, April 19, 7.45pm kick-off
Venue: Sixfields Stadium
Forecast: Clear, 10C
Outs and doubts: Cobblers: Marc Richards (Achilles), Paul Corry (knee). Crawley: Matt Harrold (knee), Liam McAlinden (hamstring)
Betting: Northampton 1/2, draw 15/4. Crawley 6/1
Form guide: Crawley DDLLLL Cobblers WWDDDD
Possible line-ups: Crawley (5-3-2): Rose; Oyebanjo, McNerney, Bradley, Ashton, Dunne; Edwards, Smith, Della-Verde; Barnard, Bond.. Northampton (4-2-3-1): Smith; Moloney, Diamond, McDonald, Buchanan; O’Toole, Rose, Holmes, Adams; Hoskins, Marquis
Man in the middle: Devon official Lee Swabey is in charge at Sixfields. Swabey has so far refereed 28 games this season, and given out 89 yellow cards and 10 reds. One of those reds was to Town’s Jason Taylor in the 2-0 defeat at Barnet in August. That was the only Cobblers game Swabey has refereed so far this season.
Last time out: Exeter City 0 Northampton Town 0; AFC Wimbledon 1 Crawley Town 0
Most recent meeting: November 24, 2015, Sky Bet League Two: Crawley Town 1 Northampton Town 2 (Byrom, O’Toole),
Record v Crawley: P4 W 1 L3
Opposition view: Crawley boss Mark Yates; “Northampton are a good side, and they have players that have won the league before. Chris Wilder has recruited well, particularly in the January window when I thought his recruitment of Luke Prosser, James Collins and Danny Rose showed that they really meant business..
They put all of their troubles behind them and have run out deserved winners of the league.”
Cobblers connection: The current Crawley squad includes two ex-Cobblers in Lewis Young and Lee Barnard, but perhaps the strongest connection between the clubs is John Gregory. Gregory begand his playing career at Northampton in 1972, and spent five years at the County Ground before moving on to play for Aston Villa, and eventually England. Gregory was manager at Crawley Town for a year, before stepping down due to health reasons in December, 2014
Jeremy Casey’s preview: Job done. Promotion and the Sky Bet League Two title is in the bag, and the Cobblers can relax for the final four home games of the season - which could be bad news for Crawley Town.
The Cobblers have not been at their fluid best for the past few weeks, but have still done enough to ensure they finish the season as the league two top dogs, and stretch their remarkable unbeaten run to 20 matches.
Chris Wilder’s men may have played out four successive draws meaning they have dropped eight points out of the past 12 available to them, but they have still stretched their lead at the top of the table through that stuttering run, the sheer weight of their previous results and their consistency proving too much for all of their rivals.
Now they are over the line, the Cobblers players can truly relax, and that could see them rediscover the swagger and attacking style that saw them blitz virtually every other team in the division from November through to the end of February.
There were signs in the home games against Notts County and Bristol Rovers - that both ended 2-2 - that the team was close to hitting top gear again, and the worry for Crawley is that now the shackles are off, the party tricks can be brought out again at Sixfields on Tuesday.
Mark Yates’s men arrive in Northampton in a terrible run of form.
They have lost their past four matches, that run including a 5-1 home defeat to Oxford United, and haven’t won in six.
They did turn in an improved performance at the weekend as they went down 1-0 at play-off chasing AFC Wimbledon, but there are few signs they are suddenly going to turn up at Sixfields and turn their form around.
The Cobblers are likely to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation they have reverted to in recent matches, and it will just be a case of whether Wilder wants to stick with the same attacking four that played at Exeter, or if he freshens things up by bringing in Sam Hoskins or James Collins, or both.
Whatever happens on Tuesday night, it will be a party atmosphere at Sixfields and a night to be enjoyed by everybody connected with the Cobblers.
I also expect it to be the night the team gets back to winning ways.
Prediction: Northampton 3 Crawley 0