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10 April 2021 Venue PTS Academy Stadium Attendance

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Match Preview: Northampton Town v Bristol Rovers

9 April 2021

We look ahead to this weekend's clash with the Cobblers on away turf...

A crucial victory on Easter Monday, inspired by Luke McCormick, provided the Gas with a platform to build a late run of form from, with Rovers claiming three points after going behind.

This season, the Gas have claimed an impressive 15 points from losing positions, only beaten across Sky Bet League One by the 21 points achieved by Peterborough United this campaign.

Bouyed by the recent victory, Rovers head into a clash with a Northampton Town side that currently sit as front-runners in the six-team 'mini-league' at the foot of the table, sitting in 19th, two points ahead of the Gas.

We provide the full lowdown on the match ahead in the preview below...

Manager's Preview...

Joey Barton sat down with the media on Friday morning ahead of the weekend's trip to Northampton...

On the agenda this week for the Rovers boss was the morale of the squad following Monday's win and how he perceives the challenges Northampton will pose at Sixfields.

Feature

Manager's Preview - Joey Barton on Northampton Town

Player Preview...

Jack Baldwin also offered his pre-match take on Saturday's contest. 

 

Media Talk...

Ahead of Saturday's fixture, Jon Brady has been giving his thoughts on the prospect of facing the Gas.

Speaking to northamptontown.co.uk, Brady said, “It’s another big challenge for us, throughout the season so far we’ve had big games and right now we’ve put ourselves in a position where we are above the line and we need to keep fighting to move away from it."

“Saturday is another game in our quest to get to where we need to finish. We are organised, prepped and ready to go. We are focusing on our performance and if we perform to the level we know we can we will give ourselves every chance of winning the game.

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Form Guide

Northampton currently lead the 'mini-league' at the foot of the Sky Bet League One tie, but much like the run-in so far, the bottom few sides can change in order dramatically this weekend. With the Cobblers leading the Gas by 2 points, a win on the road on Saturday would see Barton's side jump Northampton Town and move out the drop-zone.

Ryan Watson is likely to be central to everything positive the Cobblers produce on Saturday, having scored crucial goals in wins over Portsmouth and Shrewsbury for his side.

Northampton have taken 6 points from their last five games, with narrow victories coming over Oxford United and the afformentioned Shrewsbury to propel Northampton out of the bottom four. Weakness was shown in their final game of March though, a 1-0 loss in a big relegation fixture against AFC Wimbledon.

Most recently, the Cobblers were defeated by Hull City on the road on Easter Monday, losing 3-0. 

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Referee Watch

David Rock has been appointed as the man in the middle for Saturday's fixture. Previously this season, he referreed the Gas' trip to Oxford United at the end of January, a fixture they lost 2-0. Rock has handed out 86 yellow cards and 6 red cards in the 27 games he's taken charge of this season. 

Stat Pack

At home this season, Northampton have picked up 25 points, two points more on home soil than Rovers.

The Cobblers are the league lowest scoring side at home, with 16 goals in 20 games at Sixfields. They have conceded 22 goals at home.

Jon Brady's side home form over the last six games has seen them pick up 13 points, losing just once and registering 4 wins.

Attacking midfielder Ryan Waston has five goals at home this season - seven in total this campaign so far in the league.

The Cobbles are without a clean sheet in seven games against the Gas, with Rovers unbeaten in 7 encounters against Northampton. In the last five games between the two sides, Rovers have been the first to score on all five occasions and have been leading at the half time stage in four of those contents.

Zain Westbrooke assisted both of Luke McCormick's goals on Monday - the first time this season that a Rovers player has registered more than one assist during a fixture. The midfielder has six assists in total this term.

McCormick's brace against Doncaster Rovers was Rovers' third two-goal tally by a player in an individual game this season. The previous two came in the same game, as both Sam Nicholson and Brandon Hanlan scored twice in our win over AFC Wimbledon back in December.

Brandon Hanlan is the only Rovers players with over 3,000 minutes played in the league this season. The striker has started 36 games for Rovers this term.

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Previous Encounters

The two sides last met at the Mem back in October, where second-half goals from Brandan Hanlan and Jack Baldwin helped Rovers to three points.

Striker Hanlan found the target with a thumping penalty, as Jack Baldwin volleyed home for his first Rovers goal to secure the victory.

Rovers' last visit to Sixfields was in the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy back in January 2019. Tom Broadbent opened the scoring in that tie, before Stefan Payne doubled the Gas' advantage midway through the second half.

The home side grabbed a goal in the 74th minute through Matt Crooks to make the final stages interesting, as Rovers held on to progress in the competition.

Rovers have a history of some high-scoring wins against Saturday's opponents.

Back in January 2017, Rovers hit 5 at home without reply in a comprehensive victory.

Billy Bodin opened the scoring that day, finding the net in the 7th minute, before the Ellis Harrison show well and truly got going, with the Welsh forward scoring a 7-minute hat-trick.

Harrison added his fourth goal and Rovers' 5th goal of the afternoon in the second half, as Rovers marked the three points in style.

Gasheads will have fond memories of a trip to Sixfields back in October 2017.

Rovers went one better on this occasion, scoring six unanswered goals in an emphatic away display.

Billy Bodin scored in the first half to put Rovers at the break. In the second half, playing towards the packed out away end, Rovers went to work.

Ellis Harrison bagged a five-minute brace, with Rory Gaffney, Liam Sercombe and Dom Telford all on the scoresheet.

Betting

EFL sponsors Sky Bet have Rovers priced at 9/1 win by the same scoreline as they did over Doncaster Rovers, while a 2-0 score, what they managed last time out against Northampton, is 12/1. Luke McCormick is priced at 7/2 to continue his scoring form into next game.

To bet with Sky Bet please click HERE.

All odds are correct at the time of writing. Please gamble responsibly.

How to Watch

Check out our in-depth guide to the iFollow service down below, and grab your pass for this weekend's big game on the road. Our record following via iFollow this season currently stands at 2,220 passes for an away game, can Gasheads beat that this weekend?

Feature

iFollow Guide: Northampton Town v Bristol Rovers

Around the Grounds

Another round of League One fixtures brings with it a collection of important clashes involving the sides near the foot of the table. AFC Wimbledon travel up north to face Accrington Stanley, while Rochdale are also on their travels, heading to Fleetwood on Saturday. Swindon Town face the tough task of a game against high-flying Peterborough United, and Wigan Athletic head to the Gas' most recent opponents, Doncaster Rovers. 

Our feature 'The Run In' offers all permatations for Rovers' relegation rivals over the coming weekend. 

Feature

The Run-In: 6 Games to Go

 

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Match Reports

Match Report: Northampton Town 1-1 Bristol Rovers

10 April 2021

Northampton steal a point from the Gas after Hoskins levels following a Luke Leahy opener...

Who else would it be other than captain Luke Leahy to break the deadlock in the biggest of games for the Gas? A superb corner, the last of a trio of Rovers chances around the 20 minute mark picked out the left-back who's inital header was denied. Alert to the rebound though, Leahy was allowed time and space to smash past a stricken Jonathan Mitchell to give the Gas a lead.

The goal proved to be the only real strike on goal of quality for the Gas in the first half, but Jaakkola needed to make a superb save at the other end to maintain the lead. A powerful shot from the left side of the area was denied at front-post by the Fin.

A second-half penalty allowed to home side level as a coming together between Baldwin and Jones saw the ref' point to the spot. From there, Hoskins struck the spot-kick down the middle, sending Jaakkola wide to level things up.

Ed Upson would strike the bar moments later with a dipping half-volley from distance, agonizingly close to retaking the lead.

Barton opted to tinker slightly with the winning team that secured safe passage past Doncaster Rovers on Easter Monday. Ayunga came in for Zain Walker to add more firepower up top for the away encounter. Elsewhere, everything else remained the same, with youngster Martinez continuing to warrant his selection in midfield. It did mean a change in system though, with the Gas lining up with a back four, a midfield three with one in the hole behind the two forwards.

The game was lively from the off, with a smart free-kick bent around a recovering Northampton defender by Luke Leahy to pick out the run of Zain Westbrooke. He looked to jink inside of his man from the byline but saw the home side's defence hold firm and dispossess him.

Both sides were hot on decisions, contesting for every throw-in, freekick and hint at a foul. A point of contention came as Harries competed with Rose in an aerial duel, with Rose looking to impede the Gas defender as they rose. The ref' let play continue, much to the disapproval of Barton and his staff, but Northampton weren't able to make anything from the breakaway.

Jonah Ayunga was picked out for the first clear sight of goal as Westbrooke dinked the ball over the Cobblers defence. Ayunga controlled well but just dwelled on the ball too long, allowing Harriman to slide in and hook it for a corner at the last moment.

The corner that followed would see a Jack Baldwin header saved at the back post, turned wide by Mitchell for another corner.

It would be the third time lucky for the Gas, as their third chance in under a minute found the net through the talismanic Luke Leahy. A Zain Westbrooke delivery picked out the run of Leahy who'd snuck in from the back post under the radar of the Northampton defenders. His first header was saved well, but he had all the time in the world to leather in the rebound and run with his arm raised towards the few fans that had gathered on the hill behind the stand.

Rovers had a few half-contested penalty appeals turned down in the minutes that followed, with the Northampton defence getting more than touch tight to the Gas forwards on a few instances.

It would be the Cobblers that would force the next save though, with a Hoskins delivery finding Horsfall at the back stick in acres of space. His strike looked destined to find the net from close-range on the left side, but the big Anssi Jaakkola stood firm and denied a venomous strike.

Zain Westbrook continued to deliver into the box with superb accuracy as he found the run of Ayunga towards the back post as the half-hour approached. The towering Kenyan was still forced to stretch to head the ball, targeting towards the top left, but saw Mitchell pre-empt his placement, saving comfortably.

Brandon Hanlan was a nuisance for the Northampton defence as a long ball was hooked deep into their territory. He turned and shielded the ball before laying off to Westbrooke. Westbrooke didn't quite have the angle for a strike with a recovering defender blocking his run but dug out a neat ball to McCormick. The loanee ran onto and struck the ball first time but fired high and wide, seeming to have his leg nicked as he approached the ball, but the ref' waved away the protests.

Westbrooke was given an opportunity from a free-kick around 22 yards out after McCormick was hacked down by Bryn Morris. Morris received the first booking of the game, before Westbrooke swung his strike over the bar as the fourth official raised the board for two added minutes, which passed without issue to see the Gas maintain the lead at the break.

A moment of danger followed the resumption of play in the second period, with Jaakkola mis-timing a punch clear and seeing it loop up into the air deep in the Rovers box. The Gas defence remained calm though and made the clearance at the second attempt.

Rovers did a superb job of controlling the first fifteen following the break though, winning almost every 50/50 in the centre of the field and firmly stamping their authority.

Jack Baldwin would be denied for a second time from a set-piece in the 65th minute as Westbrooke floated a free-kick deep into the Northampton area. Baldwin won the tussle with his marker but saw his header go too central, with Mitchell able to catch in the middle of his goal.

As the 70th minute approached, Danny Rose was handed a golden opportunity for the home side, with a quick throw-in unleashing a break towards the Gas' byline. A switchback picked out Rose with the goal at his mercy but he misfired entirely, taking a complete air shot and seeing the chance pass him by.

A coming together between Baldwin and substitute Alex Jones saw a penalty given to Northampton with just over ten minutes to go. It looked harsh, but Sam Hoskins stepped up to fire past Jaakkola to pull his side level.

A moment of brilliance from Ed Upson almost reinstalled the lead for the Gas as he controlled a bouncing ball before hitting a dipping volley goalwards. It clattered off the bar but his Mitchell as it rebounded out, deflecting wide. Inches from making it 2-1.

It would be the closest either side would come in the late stages, with the game ending level.

Next up for the Gas, they host Lincoln City on Saturday.

Northampton Town: Jon Mitchell, Michael Harriman, Fraser Horstall, Sam Hoskins, Ryan Watson, Shaun McWilliams, Byrn Morris (Mark Marshall '77), Joesph Mills (C), Ryan Edmundson (Alex Jones '63), Lloyd Jones, Danny Rose (Caleb Chukwuemeka '71).

Subs: Charlie Woods, Cian Bolger, Alan Sheehan, Alex Jones, Mark Marshall, Ricky Korboa, Caleb Chukwuemeka

Bristol Rovers: Anssi Jaakkola, Luke Leahy (C), Ed Upson, Zain Westbrooke (Josh Hare '71), Brandon Hanlan (James Daly '84), Luke McCormick, Jonah Ayunga, Cian Harries, Jack Baldwin, Pablo Martinez, George Williams.

Subs: Joe Day, Mark Little, Josh Hare, David Tutonda, Zain Walker, James Daly, Erhun Oztumer.

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