Gillette Soccer Saturday presenter and dedicated Hartlepool United fan Jeff Stelling has tipped Northampton Town for a top three finish this season after watching the Cobblers beat his beloved Pools side at Sixfields on Saturday.
With Premier League and Championship teams not in action at the weekend due to international fixtures, Stelling took advantage of a rare Saturday off by making the trip to Sixfields where he witnessed Northampton stretch their unbeaten run to six games and move to within two points of second place in Sky Bet League Two.
Stelling, who was made honorary president at Hartlepool last week, was impressed by the Cobblers after Marc Richards’ early strike and an own goal from Andrew Boyce sunk the Pools.
The 60-year-old offered his assessment of Northampton’s performance at full-time, saying: “It was a bit mixed for me because at the start of the season I had Northampton down to finish in the top three.
“I thought for the first 20 minutes it could have been any score because we were very vulnerable defensively and some of the balls Northampton delivered from the wide areas were terrific.
“Marc Richards is a handful for anybody at this level. He irritates the heck out of our supporters because he’s all elbows and knees and he shoves and pushes but he’s just the sort of centre-forward that any team in this division would want.
“But, to be honest, I thought that once we pulled one back Northampton rather lost their way, they lost their pattern of play and went a bit more direct than they had done in the first half hour.
“But we can’t have any complaints over the 90 minutes. We battled hard but we didn’t create anything in the second half and had no clear-cut chances so we don’t have any complaints with the outcome.”
Asked if he’s still tipping Northampton for a top three finish after watching them first hand, Stelling added: “Yes, I think so. I think they have real quality players on the bench with the likes of Lawson D’Ath coming on - he’s a quality player.
“Northampton have the sort of depth that is the envy of many clubs in this league, mine included, so I don’t see any reason why they can’t be up there.”