Match Preview | Northampton Town vs. Cardiff City
The Bluebirds open their 2020/21 competitive campaign this Saturday (September 5th - 3pm KO) when they visit Northampton Town in the Carabao Cup First Round...
Harris pre-Northampton | A great opportunity for us
Neil Harris looked forward to City's Carabao Cup trip to Northampton Town as he held a virtual press conference ahead of the Round One match.
"I like the cup competitions," he began. "Especially with the way it's fallen at the moment, it's a great opportunity for us to get minutes into players.
"We see it as a potentially very difficult game away at Northampton, but however tough it is going to be, it does present a chance for us.
"If you do get through to the next round, it enables you to keep players happy and give players minutes by rotating the squad. So I do see these early rounds as important."
Opposition Focus: The boss
Keith Curle had a 20+ year playing career in the professional game. The former centre-back started his playing days with hometown side Bristol Rovers before turning out for the likes of Wimbledon, Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United amongst others.
In 2002, Curle was appointed player-manager of Mansfield Town. He hung his boots up after one season to concentrate on his coaching duties. The 56-year-old left the Stags in December 2004 and has since taken charge at Chester City, Torquay United, Notts County, Carlisle United and Saturday’s opponents, Northampton Town, joining the club in October 2018. Curle led the Cobblers to the League Two play-off final last season, and saw his side defeat Exeter City 4-0 at Wembley to secure their promotion to League One and a first promotion for him as a manager.
Keith Curle also worked with former City boss Neil Warnock on a number of occasions. He played and coached Sheffield United from 2000-02 as well as joining Warnock at Crystal Palace and QPR in later seasons.
Speaking to Northampton Town's official matchday programme ahead of this Saturday's match, Curle said of the Bluebirds: “We are looking forward to taking on a side who finished in the Championship play-offs in the first round of this season’s Carabao Cup, and we know they have good players who are successful in the way they play.
“We welcome Neil Harris, who did a terrific job taking over at Cardiff last season, and this is a great opportunity to take on a very good Championship football club as we look to continue our upward curve and our progression in the season ahead.”
Opposition Focus: The new lads
Thirteen players left Sixfields in the summer including forward Vadaine Oliver, who joined Gillingham, and central defender and captain Charlie Goode. Goode left for a club-record fee after 18 months as a Cobbler to link up with Championship side Brentford. The 25-year old was Northampton’s 2019-20 Supporters’ Player of the Year.
With so many outgoings, the newly promoted side needed reinforcements, and have so far signed five players permanently and made three loan signings.
Christopher Missilou, Joseph Mills, Fraser Horsfall and Cian Bolger all moved to Northampton Town on free transfers, leaving Oldham Athletic, Forest Green Rovers, Macclesfield Town and Lincoln City respectively. Missilou is a central midfielder, Mills operates on the left side of defence, while Horsfall and Bolger are central defenders.
Attacking player Ricky Korboa (pictured above) joined from Isthmian Premier Division side Carshalton Athletic for an undisclosed fee on September 1st. Korboa scored 31 times across the past two seasons.
Their three loan deals see goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell (Derby County), central defender Luka Racic (Brentford) and forward Joe Nuttall (Blackpool) arrive for season long spells at Sixfields.
Opposition Focus: Ones to watch
Sam Hoskins has been with Northampton Town since August 1st, 2015. The attacker top scored for the Cobblers, netting 12 goals in all competitions during Town’s successful Sky Bet League Two campaign last season. Hoskins’ involvement on Saturday though is in doubt due to a hamstring issue.
Ryan Watson (pictured above) finally made Sixfields his permanent home in July 2019, having previously had two loan spells with the side earlier in his career.
Town’s No.8 began his career with Wigan Athletic before moving to Leicester City. It was with the Foxes that Watson first encountered Northampton, making 16 appearances across two temporary spells in 2014 & 2015. After leaving Leicester, he had spells with Barnet and MK Dons.
Speaking to Northampton Town’s official website, Watson said: “After a year with MK Dons I then re-joined Northampton, and I was massively pleased to do so, this time on a permanent basis.
“I came to meet the manager and straight away it was a no-brainer for me to come back. I had a really good feeling from our meeting, and I already knew the club and the potential it has. I was delighted to come back, the club means a lot to me.”
Watson made 36 competitive appearances for Northampton Town during the shortened 2019/20 campaign, scoring on seven occasions, including the opening goal in the play-off final victory.