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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Big Match Preview

Northampton Town vs. Gillingham
Saturday October 30, 15:00, Sixfields

It's a meeting between two sides who are failing to match expectations at Sixfields this weekend as League Cup giant killers Northampton Town entertain Gillingham.

While the Cobblers go into the game currently in the division's bottom two, the Gills go in search of ending a winless away run now stretching to a club-record 33 games.

Indeed, not since victory at Chesterfield in April 2009 have Kent's sole Football League outfit returned to the Priestfield with maximum spoils to show for their efforts.

It was that dire away record which cost them their place in League One last term - leading to the sacking of boss Mark Stimson and return of legend Andy Hessenthaler to the manager's chair.

However, it's been a struggle for Hessenthaler on his return, with the Gills - tipped for promotion in pre-season - only sitting in 15th going into Saturday's game.

Their defensive frailties on the road have been a large part of their struggles - with 14 goals leaked on their six trips, including five at Bury and seven at Accrington in recent weeks.

Goalless draws at Hereford and Port Vale and another point picked up at Morecambe are all the Gills have to show for their travels this term.

Key to ending their barren away run will be striker Bayo Akinfenwa - who returns to the club he left in the summer - their joint top scorer, alongside Cody McDonald, with four to his name.

Despite their League Cup run, Ian Sampson fears for his job

For the home side, the arrival of Gillingham signals a return to their bread and butter after the end of their League Cup odyssey.

Tuesday night's at Ipswich brought to an end a run which had included the infamous defeat of Liverpool on penalties at Anfield in one of Town's most famous games.

Those exploits may well have proved somewhat of a distraction to Sampson's men though. Since then, they've collected just three points and head into the weekend off the back of five successive league defeats.

Their home form has been somewhat of a mixed bag too with wins against Southend and Bradford, draws with Accrington and Wycombe, and recent losses to Chesterfield and Hereford.

All of which means 41-year-old Sampson, a club legend as a player, is under big pressure to get from the Gillingham game.

Central players for Town this term have been midfielder Kevin Thornton and striker Billy McKay - both have notched four goals to date this season.

With Cobblers in such poor form and the Gills woeful on the road, this is a game both sides would love to win but probably can't afford to lose.

That may well dictate that a tight game ends all square which, although not ideal for either, will at least see them avoid another defeat respectively.

Nobes' Prediction: Northampton Town 1 Gillingham 1

1 comment:

  1. Shocking underperformance from Cobblers thus far this season although their Cup distraction has now ended.