This weekend marks the beginning of this season’s coveted FA cup schedule as the first round proper gets underway. With the League One and League Two teams joining the successful teams from the qualifying rounds in the draw, it was hotly anticipated by various clubs across the country.
As for Coventry City are concerned, they were handed a potentially tricky fixture against Northampton Town of the fourth tier. Sky Blues supporters will be familiar with their opponents after the trials and tribulations of ground-sharing with The Cobblers at Sixfield Stadium. Of course, that situation will be put aside on Saturday and both teams will be vying for a place in the second round of the competition.
The Sky Blues will be in high spirits after the 4-3 win against Barnley in midweek, despite not performing to their usual high standards. A few defensive errors will have to be ameliorated if they are to progress, but they have won 2 and drawn 3 of their last 5 fixtures.
With Mowbray’s men boasting an unbeaten record at the Ricoh Arena this term, Northampton may find it difficult to get past Coventry. The latter have also scored 29 goals in 16 league games to lift them up to 4th position in League One.
Northampton are also in good fettle and they currently sit 5th in League Two despite a host of off-field uncertainties. The away side are bringing an impressive away following and I’m sure they’ll be hoping for the ‘magic of the FA cup’ will be with them as they attempt to cause an upset.
In their last 5 fixtures, the Cobblers have managed to acquire 3 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss. This form will create confidence within the squad and they’ll be looking to claim a scalp on Saturday. With the side scoring 26 goals also, the game should be an entertaining prospect.
Coventry City have somewhat a depleted squad for this fixture and Tony Mowbray may be forced to utilise the full depth of his squad. Ryan Kent has returned to Liverpool to train before going on international duty next weekend, whilst Adam Armstrong is also unavailable as he is cup tied.
Reda Johnson, Jordan Willis and Ivor Lawton are long term absentees, whilst James Maddison also joins them on the injury table. Romain Vincelot will also not be found in the City squad as the combative midfielder is serving a suspension after he picked up his fifth booking of the season versus Barnsley. Dion Kelly-Evans, Ben Stevenson and Bassala Sambou will all be available after being given squad numbers, the latter has scored 8 goals in 2 games for the U18’s.
The Cobblers have a relatively clean bill of health coming in to Saturday’s game and they should name a strong squad. Evan Horwood and Brendon Moloney are approaching full fitness after recovering from injury and the duo could feature, although it’s more likely to be off the bench.
In terms of absentees, Joel Byrom and Ryan Cresswell are but ruled out with hip and groin problems respectively. Encouraging signs have been shown, however, by Ricky Holmes as he’s returned to training but this weekend’s fixture may have come to early for the attacker.
Ones To Watch:
After progressing through the youth ranks at Bury, Adams made 77 appearances for The Shakers before joining Leicester City in 2008. After struggling to stake his claim with the now Premiership outfit, subsequent loan moves followed and and he then enjoyed productive spells at Rochdale and Crawley Town. In the summer of 2014 he then rejoined Bury for an undisclosed fee.
During the summer of 2015 a move occurred again and he found himself at Northampton Town after the club offered him a three-year contract. He has made a solid start to life with the club and his recent performances have led to him being nominated for League Two player of the month. A technically efficient and energetic player, the Sky Blues will have to work hard to keep him at bay.
Marc Richards is an experienced striker that is reasonably well known in the football league. After impressing as a youngster at non-league Hednesford Town, he made the move to the professional game in 2000 as Blackburn Rovers snapped him up. After failing to make a first team appearance at Eewood Park, he was then loaned out to various clubs before joining The Cobblers in 2003.
In his first spell at Northampton, he managed to score just 10 goals in 53 appearances. He then left Sixfields and spells at Barnsley, Port Vale and Chesterfield were had before he returned for a second stint. So far this season, Richards’ ability to find the net has caught the eye of many and he’s scored 9 goals in 17 outings. The striker possesses bags of ability and he could be a potential nightmare for Coventry’s defence.
“I think they (Northampton) will see it as an opportunity and we have to go again with a pretty depleted squad, but everyone should be looking forward to the challenge.”
“We are at the bare bones and will register three young boys today to make up the bench, boys that wouldn’t normally be anywhere near.”
“There might be a perception that we’ll turn up against a League Two side and steam-roller over them but we have played five League Two teams and not won in pre-season and then Yeovil in the JPT.”
“We’re mindful of a team on the front foot and ready for us.”
View From The Opposition – Alan Knill
“It’s a great opportunity for us and we are going to put a team out that we believe can go to Coventry and win.”
“Coventry are a good side and they are going well but it’s a great game for us and we can approach it full of confidence. I think we are a good side too and we all believe we can go there and cause an upset.”
“Nobody expects us to beat Coventry but we can go there and play with some freedom and have a real go at them.”
“The FA Cup is still a great competition and you always want to play the bigger teams. For clubs at our level the prize money is really good and it can make such a difference.”
When that number 14 ball was plucked during the draw, I was anticipating an exciting fixture. Your immediate reaction when being paired with Northampton Town isn’t too lively, but with the Sixfields saga of recent times, this fixture could have a bit of spice to it.
For me, The Cobblers played no part in our demise and we should be respectful of them and their off-field uncertainties come Saturday. I know a few of their fans and they are a genuinely decent bunch. I believe they’re doing a bucket collection before the game in attempt to raise some funds for their club – I’d encourage all Sky Blues supporters to help out if they can – it’s horrible to see any club in trouble. We know what it’s like.
Anyway, in terms of on the pitch this looks like a reasonably tough draw. With the players missing from our team, playing a confident League Two side may cause us a lot of problems. Chris Wilder has his side playing an attractive, attacking style of football and this should play its part in making it another entertaining encounter at the Ricoh.
I’m still confident that the bodies Mowbray has at his disposal can win us the tie, however, it will be far from routine. It will be interesting to see how we line up, and whether Lee Burge will get another shot in between the posts. A healthy away following are travelling and they’ll be backing their side to the hilt. It should be a veciforous atmosphere and I’m hoping the players react to that and put on a show.
As always with cup football, it’s undeniably difficult to pick a winner as it all boils down to what happens on the day. We will of course be the favourites and we should use this to spur us on, it’s a game we should be winning. After last season’s embarrassing elimination at the hands of Worcester City, it’s time to make amends this time around.
My Score Prediction:
Coventry City 2-1 Northampton Town