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Northampton Preview

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 05/05/2006

EVERYONE connected to Grimsby Town Football Club knows what is required this weekend. The Mariners have to better Leyton Orient's result at Oxford to achieve automatic promotion, but if the Os win at the Kassam Stadium it'll be the play-offs for Russell Slade's men.

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The job is made much harder due to the visit of Northampton Town, who have won seven of their last eight games. They boast an impressive away record, having lost just three times on their travels. In Colin Calderwood they have one of Scotland's brightest young managers, and after securing promotion last weekend at home to Chester, the Cobblers will be in party mood when they visit Blundell Park on Saturday. However, in the light of Carlisle's result at Rochdale in midweek, Northampton are out of the race to claim the Championship trophy, which may see them take their foot off the pedal to make sure that their players don't receive any unnecessary injuries.

The Cobblers didn't really enter the equation for automatic promotion until beyond mid-season. Their consistent form was the main reason behind their climb to the summit of the division - that, along with many clean sheets, have been the reasons why they have overtaken the likes of Wycombe, Grimsby and Leyton Orient to seal an early promotion to League 1.

The Cobblers have the meanest defence in League Two, thanks in part to former Grimsby right back Jason Crowe, who has chalked up 40 games this season for Northampton since leaving Blundell Park in the summer.

Colin Calderwood has a good mixture of youth and experience in his squad. The midfield presence of Eoin Jess and former Villa man Ian Taylor are veterans and handy squad players in this division. They have a reliable pair of safe hands in Lee Harper in goal.

The bulk of the Cobblers' goals have been scored by 32-year-old Scott McGleish, with former Mariner Jason Lee one of a number of strike partners this season. Martin Smith is another highly rated forward although he is not a prolific goalscorer in the McGleish mould.

Grimsby are decimated by injures and have several players rated doubtful: John McDermott (hamstring), Tom Newey (ankle ligaments), Rob Jones (groin), Gary Croft (knee), Paul Bolland (dead leg), Gary Jones (foot) and Michael Reddy (groin). Of those Newey is certain to miss out, but the good news is that Gary Jones has not broken his foot as had been feared. Some of the remainder may not make it, but late decisions will be made on several players. There is a possibility that John McDermott could return at right back allowing Gary Cohen to go back to his natural wide right position.

For Northampton dangerman Scott McGleish will be absent after being scheduled for a hernia operation. Northern Ireland international Andy Kirk or Jason Lee are likely to replace the Cobblers' leading scorer.

Prediction: 1-0 to the Mariners

Grimsby (from): Mildenhall, McDermott, Croft, Whittle, Rob Jones, Cohen, Bolland, Woodhouse, Goodfellow, Reddy, Gary Jones, Futcher, Parkinson, Toner, Mendes, JPK Kalala, Downey

Northampton (from): Harper, Crowe, Chambers, Doig, Smith, Low, Rowson, Hunt, Gavin Johnson, Kirk, Jess, Lee, Bunn, Dyche, Hand

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