Northampton vs Cheltenham: Cobblers can keep Robins at bay in first leg


FOOTBALL LEAGUE fan James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) shares his thoughts on Thursday night's massive League Two play-off semi-final first leg between Northampton and Cheltenham.

Northampton v Cheltenham | Thursday 18th June 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports

Your second take of League Two football for the day comes in the form of Northampton and Cheltenham from Sixfields. The Cobblers probably won’t have minded having a bit of a break from action considering Keith Curle’s men have lost six of their last eight during a rather hectic fixture schedule. Cheltenham on the flip side wanted to keep on going as they’re unbeaten in six, winning five.

If you are a fan of cardboard cut-outs then this is your game and eagle-eyed viewers can look towards finding NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal in the crowd for this contest. He is a friend of Northampton chairman Kelvin Thomas.

Now, back to the football, and once again this is another clash which is so, so tough to calculate considering the lack of recent form. Neither have appeared since 7th March, which is when Northampton lost at home to Mansfield and Cheltenham drew at home versus Port Vale. Still, we again have to acknowledge the break and factor that into any selection we intend to back.

It is always said that form generally goes out of the window for the play-off campaign anyway, and it is a good job given neither have played in nearly four months! Still, this is a massive game for both and they’ll want to stay in the tie at the very least before the second leg in a few days’ time.

It is another contest which does scream bet-builder material and we have put one together for you to consider. We’ll walk through the three separate selections with you. For clarity, Northampton Double Chance, Under 4 Goals and Northampton To Win Either Half is available at 11/8 (Bet365).

We do afford Northampton a narrow edge here on the basis of what you can offer going forward. The counter argument to this is that Cheltenham boast by far and away the strongest defensive record in the division. However, I just feel play-off football tends to favour the more attack-minded outfit.

Cheltenham of course retain a threat in attack, but the Robins actually have had the fewest shots on goal of any team in the league. That is an incredible stat considering they’ve made the play-offs!

On the other hand, Cheltenham top the league for chance conversion, so they don’t necessarily need many chances to score. Being away in the first leg leads me to think they’ll be happy to keep things tight here, so they’ll come under pressure. Northampton are fourth-highest scorers in League Two.

We can’t rule Cheltenham out though, especially with Northampton not showcasing great form before the break. Form is tough to judge right now, but that does place a doubt in the back our minds. We’ll look for Under 4 Goals as Cheltenham are indeed a very stubborn outfit to try and break down. Northampton are pretty good at the back as well, and they’ve kept the same amount of clean sheets as Cheltenham.

Northampton do play quite openly, and do concede 14.2 shots on goal on average per game, which is the fifth-highest in the league, but we’ve already touched upon how Cheltenham won’t really go gung-ho at any stage.

Finally, we’ve added Northampton to Win Either Half to really bump up the price on this bet-builder. The onus is really on them to try and take a lead into the second leg, whilst Cheltenham you feel won’t change from their usual approach and will be happy with a draw.

Northampton have the second-best first-half record and the highest-scorers inside 45 minutes in League Two, and even if they’re not leading at the break they should be the more likely team to push for a winner the longer it remains level.

Best Bets

Northampton v Cheltenham – Northampton Double chance, Under 4 Goals and Northampton to Win Either Half (11/8 Bet365)

About Author

Since leaving university I've worked as a Research/Football Performance/Betting Analyst. I live and breath all things football. This has gradually helped me with my betting when looking for value and ultimately, winning selections. I've experienced both the bad, and more recently, the good supporting Lincoln City, with whom my weekends aren't the same without.

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