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Northampton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Fan Focus: Northampton fan Tom is backing Sunderland to end the season with a 2-0 win!

We spoke to Northampton fan and writer Tom Reed ahead of this weekend, discussing their recent relegation to League Two, the sacking of Keith Curle, as well as their two youth players who are on trial with Sunderland.

Photo by John Cripps/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: Northampton were relegated back to League Two following a 3-0 defeat against Blackpool last Saturday - was this something you saw coming, or did you have belief the club could stay up?

Tom Reed: Unfortunately, it was something most Cobblers fans saw coming. Firstly, Keith Curle’s abysmal football and then a general lack of goals have cost us. It’s been a record-breaking season of games without Town registering a goal so that speaks for itself.

MC: The Cobblers possess a torrid away record, winning just three of their 22 matches this season on the road, what are the main factors behind that?

TR: We are a fairly industrious side with a bit of quality here and there but liable to crumble at the worst times. Opponents will know that if they push Cobblers till the last-minute opportunities will arise.

Again, the lack of goals means the team can’t travel away with much confidence.

MC: In mid-February, the club made the decision to sack Keith Curle and replace him with Jon Brady - in hindsight has that proved to be a correct decision?

TR: 100% the correct decision as Curle had lost the plot and was producing some of the worst football in recent times on a churned-up pitch. It was quite some going to move from promotion winners to getting the boot, but Curle managed it.

Brady is a good club man, but lacks managerial experience at this level.

A move upstairs to a technical director role might suit him.

Northampton Town v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League 1
Watson scored five goals in three matches for Northampton earlier this season, scoring braces against Portsmouth and Plymouth.
Photo by John Cripps/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

MC: Northampton lost the likes of Charlie Goode, Vadaine Oliver, David Cornell and Jordan Turnbull in the summer - did the club simply fail to bring in suitable replacements?

TR: Yes, Covid-19 had an impact for a club losing money and aware of trying to balance the books, but the recruitment has been awful. The loan of Luca Racic from Brentford as a replacement for Goode was a disaster, as was the loan signing of Joe Nuttall from Blackpool who arrived injured and barely featured before being returned.

Another loanee, the goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell from Derby has proved error-prone to put it politely. Frank Spencer would be an improvement on some of the Cobblers players against the Mackems.

MC: Ryan Watson is Northampton’s top scorer this season with nine goals - is he the main player Sunderland will have to be wary of?

TR: Yes definitely, he is a good technical, box-to-box midfielder who is probably our best finisher, despite being a centre-mid. He can score goals from nothing but does blow hot and cold, and I wouldn’t blame him if he was already on the beach.

MC: Sunderland currently have two Northampton players on trial with our under-23s - what can you tell us about Tom Scott and Ethan Johnston?

TR: Not a lot, which is contentious in itself. The homegrown “player pathway” is a hot potato among fans, with young Cam McWilliams already having left for Cardiff and the highly-rated Caleb Chukwuemeka having barely featured and yet to sign a pro-deal.

Scott and Johnston may well be very promising players and few could blame them for going to the Stadium Of Light should you rate them.

Northampton Town v Cambridge United
Johnston made his Northampton debut off the bench during a 4-0 Carabao Cup defeat against Bristol City.
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

MC: Looking further into next season, do you think the club are in a comfortable position financially and on the pitch to compete for promotion back to League One?

TR: Not particularly if you look at the last accounts; a few are genuinely concerned about back-to-back relegations, but I’d expect the board to appoint a safe pair of hands to try and steady the ship. Derek Adams from Morecambe has been rumoured.

MC: Who are the eleven players who you expect Jon Brady to select and what style of play can Lee Johnson’s men expect to encounter?

TR: You would hope that some of the younger players are given a chance, but it is likely Brady will opt for the most unchanged 11 as much as possible.

4-3-3 - Mitchell (GK), Kioso, Horsfall, Jones, Harriman, Watson, McWilliams, Morris, Hoskins, Rose, Miller.

I’ll probably be a few out with that team, but forgive me as my mind’s already on the Summer and watching Northants Cricket, who have a few players that can actually get on the scoresheet.

MC: The two sides drew 0-0 back in January, what is your honest prediction of the score this time around?

TR: 2-0 Sunderland. Sorry for coming across as pessimistic, Northampton fans, but I have to be realistic.


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