Preview: Northampton Town
Fitness and availability
Long-term fitness concerns Oscar Threlkeld and Ryan Taylor remain unavailable, meaning that the Greens will line up once more without at least two members of their strongest eleven – as has been the case since August. Further to this, Argyle are still without all of their permanent professional goalkeepers while Remi Matthews appeared to struggle physically towards the end of the defeat against Oxford, though Derek Adams confirmed he will be fine for the game. Ryan Edwards will serve the first of his two match suspension.
However, the good news is that it isn’t just the home side who are currently hampered by an injury crisis. Star performer John Joe O’Toole limped off just before half-time in the Cobblers loss against Scunthorpe on Saturday and is unlikely to recover in time for tonight’s match, striker Alex Revell will too miss the game having undergone groin surgery. Wingers Sam Hoskins and Daniel Powell are both suffering from hamstring injuries but Northampton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink confirmed there is a chance the latter could be fit for the game.
Sam Foley replaced the injured O’Toole midway through their defeat to Scunthorpe and, with the other injured players already unavailable, it might be that Foley’s introduction is the only change. This would mean that Crooks – formerly a central midfielder at Accrington and Ranger, starts again on the left wing. However, as a result of the 3-0 loss that the Cobblers suffered, Hasselbaink may wish to make more changes: perhaps risking the aforementioned Powell or handing a chance to one of eight first-team central midfielders, such as Yasser Kasim or Regan Poole.
(4-3-3) Ingram; Moloney, Taylor, Pierre, Buchanan; McGugan, Poole, Grimes; Waters, Long, Crooks
Argyle will need to make at least one change due to the suspension of Ryan Edwards following his red card on Saturday. The natural change would be Antoni Sarcevic’s reintroduction to the midfield with Yann Songo’o pushed back into defence to partner Sonny Bradley. Adams is not known for making many rash changes so the rest of the side can be expected to be the same as that which started the Oxford match, in spite of the disappointing result.
(4-3-3) Matthews; Sawyer, Songo’o, Bradley, Taylor-Sinclair; Sarcevic, Fox, Diagouraga; Carey, Jervis, Grant.
From the dugouts
Both managers suffered embarrassing defeats on Saturday, in spite of both being on good runs leading up to it. The parallels between Argyle and Northampton do not end there however, with both managers saying similar things to the media. Both of them focused more on the errors their team made in throwing away the game rather than trying to excuse their charges by singing the praises of the opposition. Hasselbaink responded: “We lost the game instead of Scunthorpe winning it. I think they are a very, very good team and they deserved to win and in spells they were difficult to handle but every time they gave us trouble, it was from our mistakes You can’t make that many mistakes, especially when you play against a very good team.”
Meanwhile, Adams stated: “The three goals we conceded in the second half are terrible defending. Ryan Edwards going off, and Yann going back, didn’t help us But we still had 10 players behind the ball at times and we allowed them to get easy possession and chances that shouldn’t have happened It’s not like us but some of the defending was terrible, and I have got to say that. We have had a lot of praise for how well we have defended recently, but the three goals in the second half were far too easy from my point of view.”
Both managers have opted to make public criticism of their players rather than to shield them from blame. Time will tell if the strategy will give their respective players a rocket up the backside or demotivate them even further. Argyle will be hoping that it’s the home side out to prove a point from minute one.
Much to the chagrin of Northampton fans this season, they have tended to dominate games without managing to convert their chances, with recent games seeing them miss a number of chances from areas of the pitch where you would expect them to score.
Argyle, as I have already written, tend to perform best when they are a counter-attacking side who soak up pressure and hitting teams on the counter. This would, in theory, point towards an Argyle win and if the game were on a Saturday that’s exactly what I’d be predicting. However, Argyle chose against deploying such a system at home to Oxford and may do the same again at Home Park tonight.
Furthermore, it cannot be coincidence that Argyle have such a dreadful record on Tuesday nights; you may have to question the wisdom of Derek Adams high intensive training regime when it comes to preparing for two games in four days. I think the two sides will cancel each other out for a 1-1 draw.