Cambridge United look to get up and running in the Papa John’s Trophy as they travel to Northampton Town in the next Southern Group H fixture...
Both sides arrive on the back of disappointing defeats in their opening matches and ideally need to register the points at Sixfields should they wish to embark on a lengthy run in the competition.
How to Watch
The fixture in Northamptonshire gets under way at 7:00pm, with tickets available online at cufctickets.com. Adults can get theirs for £5, whereas Under 18’s cost just £1.
If you can't make it to the game, stream the clash live on iFollow. Match Passes cost £10 and are available to buy now. The simplest way to do so is by clicking here and selecting the Northampton fixture.
Since promotion to the third tier in 2016, the Cobblers have fluctuated between the divisions in dramatic circumstances, witnessing another promotion and suffering two relegations since then. Whilst we’re on the subject of drama, a mind-boggling, rip-roaring final day of action forced the side to another year in Sky Bet League Two. 99 times out of 100, promotion would have been theirs, and nobody would have said it wasn’t deserved. In what is arguably their strongest squad in years, Town are defensively well-drilled under Jon Brady and obtain matchwinners from all over the park.
Determined to gain promotion at the second time of asking, a really imposing introduction to the season has been pleasing. The division’s leading goalscorers sit in the automatic promotion spots and have found the back of the net three times already in their opening nine games. The only side to take maximum points from them are newly-relegated Doncaster Rovers. A professional 3-0 win at home to Rochdale last time out gave the side a third consecutive win – early signs indicate a promotion push is a real possibility.
With a core in inspired form, fans are certainly hopeful. Tyler Magloire is striking up a fierce partnership at the back alongside captain Jon Guthrie, who’s been a colossus since joining from Livingston – also scoring in back-to-back games and hitting the net 10 times in just over 60 appearances. At the other end of the pitch, Sam Hoskins has already reached double figures, that’s more than 10 other teams in the league have in total.
Understandably, changes are expected, with the likes of goalkeeper Jonny Maxted, Max Dyche, Ryan Haynes and Louis Appere likely to return. Defeat on Tuesday could ensure the Cobblers can no longer progress in the competition after a heavy 6-0 defeat at Ipswich Town last time out, but for a side who have escaped their group four times out of the previous five, they won’t go down without a fight.
Northampton Town: LLWWW
Cambridge United: WLWLL
The U’s approach the match determined to end a two-game losing streak and return to winning ways heading into another ruthless schedule. Unable to take their first-half chances, United were punished by a professional Barnsley side who, with ten men, comfortably ran out victors.
Reflecting on the loss, Mark Bonner acknowledged: “I think probably from the second goal onwards, which came quite quickly after the red card, the game was fairly comfortable for them.”
It was the first time the group experienced back-to-back defeats in the league – the Papa John’s matchup allows those waiting in the ranks to potentially stake their claim just in time for Morecambe on Saturday afternoon.
“We hope to be better than we were last time (vs Arsenal),” said the Head Coach. Ultimately, it’s an excellent opportunity to give minutes to those who have lacked some in recent weeks, as he’ll need a full squad to choose from ahead of the coming weeks.
In what could be a similar XI to the one in the first Southern Group H game, the likes of Fejiri Okenabirhie, Saikou Janneh and Jack Lankester should return to the attacking ranks, whereas a freshen up of the backline looks likely, with Zeno Ibsen Rossi waiting in the shadows.
A make-or-break evening awaits. If the U’s are to replicate, or even better, last season’s mazy run to the Quarter-Finals, maximum points is most likely the minimum requirement.
Northampton Town Wins: 18
Cambridge United Wins: 15
Down Memory Lane
A familiar battle, this will be the 13th time the sides have met since Cambridge returned to the Football League in 2014. Five of those have been cup clashes, whereas in the other seven the boys in amber have tasted defeat just the once.
Last time out, an imperious performance saw the U’s cruise to a 3-1 success in the FA Cup First Round Replay thanks to strikes from Harvey Knibbs, Sam Smith and Ben Worman. Before that, they were made to battle in the first meeting at Sixfields, coming from behind twice. They didn’t know it at the time, but it set them on their way to the most memorable of runs.
Speaking on that November evening, Bonner reflected: “Some good performances, it was an important result, and progress into the next round of the competition, which ultimately is what it’s all about.”
The Cobblers do have the bragging rights in this trophy. Pitting their wits in the same group for three successive seasons from 2017 onwards, they’ve won two of them with the shares being spoiled the other time.
Referee: Craig Hicks
Assistant Referee: Paul Evans
Assistant Referee: Jack Clench
Fourth Official: Scott Tallis