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The Opposition View: Northampton
By: Rob Sedgwick
THE big clash in League Two this weekend sees third place Grimsby take on the in form Northampton, who currently lie sixth. Rob Sedgwick caught up with Northampton fan Simon Sidwell to find out what the Cobblers' view of the big clash was.
You seem to have got off to a good start. Are you pleased with the way things have gone for Northampton so far?
Of course. Six weeks ago we weren't too pleased at all. Mid table, failing to get sufficient wins, but a few clean sheets in a row have seen us put in a good month for October. The home form has been patchy, mainly due to teams suffocating our football with negative tactics, though away from home we can't really be faulted. A blip against Stockport last week saw our first away defeat since April. In this game you cannot peak too early.
Would you settle now for a place in the play-offs?
Probably not. We've had two successive seasons in there without success. Mansfield and Southend have beaten us over the two legs and supporters would rather get out this league with a bit of success, than go through the heartbreak lottery of the play-offs. It's a high target to achieve in such a tight division, but automatic promotion is now the default expectation!
Is Colin Calderwood getting the most out of the players available to him?
I think he is. We are lucky not only have a squad which has quality. We have strength in depth, a good crop of youngsters to back up the senior players which makes for good competition. In the LDV match against Notts County we had 14 players out for various reasons, and still won 5-2.
In which area are Northampton strongest: defence, midfield or attack?
Last season was attack for sure, this season I think we have levelled out a bit in all areas. Sean Dyche and Chris Doig are forming a solid partnership at the back in recent weeks, while despite having injuries to forwards we can still boast the likes of Scott McGleish and on-loan Junior Mendes (left). The quality of Martin Smith and experience of Eoin Jess and Ian Taylor is also vital in the middle of the park.
What sort of formation/tactics can we expect?
To put it simple, a 4-4-2. Calderwood has a flexible formation. He likes full backs to push forward and also his wingers to come inside. It can make it look like a 3-5-2. Earlier in the season we were forced to play 4-5-1 due to the lack of forwards (selling two on transfer deadline day wasn't the best move Calderwood made!). However now competition has hotted up.
Which players are currently injured or suspended?
David Hunt is suspended. Shame, he has a monster long throw that causes team problems. Other injuries include Luke Chambers (promising defender), Ryan Gilligan (quick youngster), plus long term casualties Ashley Westwood and Fred Murray.
What players should we look out for?
Andy Kirk (left). The prolific striker is back and ready for an appearance. It will be interesting to see if he starts ahead of Mendes. Martin Smith is the other. A superb playmaker, always comes out with a moment of quality. Lee Harper has also been on terrific form in goal after a shortage of confidence during August and the end of last season. Don't forget your old boy Jason Crowe - he's quality! If I was looking at your players, certainly Michael Reddy would be the one to watch.
Which of the teams you've played so far his impressed the most?
Two spring to mind straight away. Oxford United are a solid team, gave us a good game of football at Sixfields. Wycombe are potent this term, frightening going forward and strong in defence. Definitely will be up there come May.
What are your abiding memories of last season's Grimsby/Northampton games?
There is only one of course! Not that we are bitter that Grimsby beat Northampton in the 1998 Play-Off final... the goal was a foul and offside, watch it back if you don't believe me! :-) That was superb, taking 42,000 Cobblers fans to Wembley. Mariners played better on the day although it was a close affair. League games come and go between us, although nicking a 1-0 win at our place last term wasn't pretty.
Who are your biggest rivals in this division?
Rushden and Peterborough of course! Although there is always one team who comes through to give us a run for our money, usually the sides we face in the play-offs. Who knows, it could be the Mariners!
Finally, a scoreline prediction?
Too close to call. Your recent escapade with Newcastle may take it out of your players, while we've had a free week. 1-1 I'd say, just to be safe!
Thanks to Northampton fan Simon Sidwell of ntfcunofficial.com for the interview.
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