Preview: Northampton Town vs. Exeter City – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s League One clash between Northampton Town and Exeter City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two teams separated by a single point in the middle of the League One table will do battle in the penultimate round of third-tier fixtures of the season on Saturday, as Northampton Town welcome Exeter City to Sixfields.

The hosts currently occupy a top-half spot with two games left to play, but their visitors have quickly narrowed the gap between the teams with an eight-match unbeaten streak.

Match preview

Northampton Town manager Jon Brady pictured in May 2022© Reuters

At the back end of their first season back in League One, Northampton Town head into the weekend fighting to preserve their top-10 position, having enjoyed a pleasing return to the third tier after winning promotion under Jon Brady last time around.

Indeed, the Cobblers have sat comfortably at the top end of the mid-table group throughout the majority of the term, earning 59 points from their 44 games thus far while winning 17 of those, including the reverse fixture of the upcoming contest as they beat Exeter City 2-0 on their travels in September.

Brady’s side would eventually fall away from the top 10 following a tough seven-match span in March which produced just five points, but they would bounce back in a pair of home games against strugglers Port Vale and Carlisle United, picking up consecutive 2-0 victories with Mitch Pinnock and Shaun McWilliams on the scoresheet in the former and Kieron Bowie and Ali Koiki finding the net in the latter.

Aiming to build on that run, the Cobblers then again faced off against relegation-threatened opposition in a trip to Fleetwood Town last Saturday, but they were unable to make it three victories on the bounce, instead falling to a 2-0 defeat of their own as Promise Omochere and Bosun Lawal scoring first-half goals for the hosts.

With Wycombe Wanderers and Exeter City having both moved within a point of them and Bristol Rovers within two with wins in their last outings, Northampton Town will be keen to preserve their top-half standing in the final two games of the campaign, starting with a return to winning ways at the weekend which would see them move out of sight of the visitors.

Exeter City manager Gary Caldwell celebrates after the match on September 26, 2023© Reuters

Exeter City, meanwhile, travel aiming to overturn that deficit and continue their fine form to end the term in the top half of England’s third tier.

Aiming to build on last season’s 14th-placed finish in League One, Exeter City have experienced a mixed campaign, impressing in the early stages before dropping towards the relegation battle in the following months.

After moving clear of the dogfight and enduring another difficult spell between mid-February and early March, in which they looked set to end the season deep into the bottom half, the Grecians have turned their form around in impressive fashion recently, now boasting an eight-game league unbeaten run heading into the weekend including five victories.

Two of those triumphs came consecutively over Cheltenham Town and Stevenage at the beginning of the month, and after coming from behind late on to draw 2-2 away at Leyton Orient, they continued their climb up the table with a return to winning ways at the weekend, beating Port Vale 4-2 on their travels despite again trailing 2-0 as Millenic Alli netted a second-half brace alongside goals from Zak Jules and Luke Harris.

Now heading into a third straight away match with the top half within touching distance and the chance to leapfrog Northampton ahead of the final day, Exeter City will set out to continue their fine run when they visit Sixfields on Saturday.

Northampton Town League One form:

Exeter City League One form:

Team News

Exeter City's Demetri Mitchell celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on September 26, 2023© Reuters

Jon Brady may opt to make several changes to freshen up his Northampton Town starting XI on Saturday, with Shaun McWilliams and Will Hondermarck both pushing to return to the midfield from the outset after Ben Fox and Marc Leonard were preferred in the weekend’s defeat to Fleetwood Town, while Ali Koiki could come into a back three after being substituted on in the interval at Highbury.

Louis Appere will continue to lead the line in their 3-4-3 shape, while Sam Hoskins will hope to end his wait for a 16th league goal of the season, having failed to score in the Cobblers’ last four outings.

Kieron Bowie should again complete the front line, while Mitch Pinnock offers further attacking support from a left wing-back role having chipped in with seven goals and seven assists in League One so far this term.

Exeter City, on the other hand, may be unchanged from last week’s 4-2 away win over Port Vale, given their recent run of form, with Demetri Mitchell remaining sidelined by a long-term injury.

January arrival Millenic Alli is bound to again lead the line, having scored his first three goals for the Grecians in their last two outings, while Caleb Watts and Luke Harris should again operate either side of the front man.

Yanic Wildschut and Ilmari Niskanen will offer further support from the wide areas in their 3-4-3 setup, while Jake Richards has likely earned another start alongside Ryan Woods in the engine room.

Northampton Town possible starting lineup:
Burge; Sherring, Guthrie, Koiki; Hondermarck, Leonard, McWilliams, Pinnock; Bowie, Appere, Hoskins

Exeter City possible starting lineup:
Sinisalo; Aimson, Diabate, Purrington; Niskanen, Woods, Richards, Wildschut; Harris, Alli, Watts

SM words green background

We say: Northampton Town 1-2 Exeter City

Northampton Town will be keen to bounce back from last week’s disappointment and maintain a lead over Saturday’s visitors, but they meet an Exeter City side with momentum firmly behind them on their climb towards the top half, and we back the Grecians to continue their fine run with another three-point haul at Sixfields.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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