Bristol news Northampton expert pinpoints how Gas can make Cobblers pay in relegation clash MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - Bristol Rovers' trip to Northampton Town on Saturday has the makings of a season-defining game for both sides, so Bristol Live spoke to a man in the know at Sixfields learn more about the Cobblers
Breaking News ! With Bristol Rovers and Northampton Town among League One's lowest scorers, Saturday's all-important relegation clash at Sixfields promises to be an attritional battle. Rovers have lacked a regular stream of goals all season, hitting the net 39 times in 40 games, while relegation rivals Northampton have the division's poorest attack with just 33 goals on the board. But they have found some defensive solidity since Jon Brady replaced Keith Curle in February, meaning they sit two points and two places above the Gas, who occupy the final relegation spot with six games to play. In Northampton, they face a side which has similar struggles in the crucial games against their rivals near the foot of the table, and Saturday's clash is likely to be poised on a knife edge with both sides guilty of huffing and puffing without great effect. But Joey Barton will be buoyed by the Pirates' 2-1 win over Doncaster Rovers on Easter Monday, and he will see flaws in Northampton he and his side can exploit. To find out more about the Cobblers and their strengths and weaknesses, Bristol Live quizzed Northampton Chronicle reporter James Heneghan. You can follow James on Twitter here. Read More Related Articles Joey Barton's three selection dilemmas ahead of Bristol Rovers' high stakes clash at Northampton Read More Related Articles EFL boss sets date for return of full crowds for Bristol City and Bristol Rovers Northampton have a daunting run-in after facing Rovers. Is Saturday's game viewed as a must win at Sixfields? It's as close to must-win as you're likely to get. Northampton have generally performed better against supposedly stronger opposition in recent weeks so they will fancy getting something from some of those tougher fixtures. However, given the run-ins of their rivals and the fact that most teams have games in hand, the visit of Rovers could well be decisive in their bid to stay up this season. Jon Brady replaced Keith Curle in charge in February? How has he performed and been received by the fanbase? The first thing Jon Brady did was to switch from three to four at the back and performances have by and large improved under his guidance. It took a while for results to follow and they were unfortunate to lose at MK Dons and Swindon Town in particular, but impressive back-to-back wins over Plymouth and Portsmouth came just at the right time. They were also worthy winners over Oxford United and picked up a well-deserved point at another play-off chasing team against Doncaster. It's just against teams at the bottom where they have failed to deliver – that needs to change this weekend. Read More Related Articles McCormick becomes the talisman but return of one man has restored Bristol Rovers' character Read More Related Articles Contract decisions, relegation battle and Joey Barton’s summer plans – Bristol Rovers Q&A recap What are Northampton's strengths and style of play? The team are less direct under Brady and look to put crosses into the box from out wide with the full-backs getting forward and providing width. They are also now more organised and disciplined as illustrated by the stats – they have nine clean sheets in 2021 only Sunderland, Peterborough and Hull have more. Rovers' record against their relegation rivals is poor.
. In truth, they should have at least drawn with Swindon, Wigan, Burton and Wimbledon but conceded avoidable late goals in all four games and that could well prove decisive come the end of the season. They keep things tight and don't give much away, but really struggle to create chances and score goals at the other end.
Ryan Watson celebrates.
(Image: John Cripps/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Are there any key players Rovers need to be wary of? Ryan Watson has been Town's main man under Brady. The midfielder has seven goals in his last 12 games and can be very dangerous when arriving late into the box to meet crosses and set-pieces. He's good in the air and powerful with the ball at his feet. Watson aside, though, the rest of the team is seriously lacking in goals. What are Northampton's weaknesses that Rovers should be targeting on Saturday? They don't have a specific weakness in a defensive sense because, as previously alluded to, they give very little away and are generally well organised. That said, they do tend to concede late on in games - no team in the division has conceded more goals than Northampton (21) in the final 15 minutes of matches this season. But undoubtedly it's at the other end where their problems really start and being strong at the back will be key for Rovers if they are to come away with a positive result.
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Are there any injuries or suspensions that will affect Brady's team selection? He has two big injuries in Mickel Miller and Jack Sowerby, both of whom would be first-choice starters. They are unlikely to play again this season. There might be one or two other doubts and a few players are struggling with fatigue given the busy schedule, but otherwise Brady has no other major concerns. Finally, your prediction for Saturday's game? I think it will be a typically tight, tense and cagey relegation affair. Northampton have won their last two home games 1-0 and I'm going for the same again here.
Source = MetiNews.Com