May 5, 2013
Yates seeking home comforts
Cheltenham boss Mark Yates and Northampton counterpart Aidy Boothroyd both agree all is still very much to play for in their play-off semi-final heading into the second leg.
The Cobblers hold a slender 1-0 advantage after Thursday's first leg at Sixfields, with Roy O'Donovan's acrobatic finish proving the difference between the two sides.
Yates admitted he was arguably the happier manager after the initial meeting having seen his side outplayed but still in the tie, as the Robins look to seal a return to Wembley 12 months after their npower League Two final defeat to Crewe.
Cheltenham will feel more than capable of turning matters around at Whaddon Road, where they are unbeaten in 20 league matches stretching back to mid-September.
"We're 1-0 down at half-time, we knew we'd have to win our home game,'' Yates said. "We've got a great home record, one of the best in the league.
"It's still game on, they (Northampton's fans) were celebrating like they won it at the end (of the first leg), fair play to them for that.
"We know it's going to be tough, we know they're a good side. Aidy will say all the right things, just like I will to make sure they're focused.
"We've got to make sure we turn up and win our home game. We win our home game then we've got a chance.''
Yates added: "I'm going to ask for one big special effort from the fans on Sunday, we need them to be that proverbial 12th man, we need them to really roar the players on and stick behind them.
"We're not going to score in the first minute and go and get two or three, it's going to be tight. Northampton are going to get their moments in the game as we know they've got threats. But we need the fans to really get behind and stick with us, as I'm sure they will.''
Cheltenham look set to be without defender Michael Hector after he sustained a rib injury early in the second half of the first leg and was taken to hospital.
Billy Jones replaced Hector at Sixfields, with Keith Lowe switching to centre-half, leaving Yates with a possible selection dilemma.
Striker Paul Benson returned to the starting line-up at Northampton following an ankle injury and lasted the full 90 minutes, so is expected to resume alongside Byron Harrison.
The first-leg win was Northampton's first in seven attempts over the Robins, who completed a league double this season, but they will be fully aware that they have failed to match their impressive home record on their travels this term.
Thursday's narrow victory was the club's 12th in their last 13 matches on home soil but they have managed just four league wins on the road this season and only two this calendar year - meaning they tie remains finely balanced.
Boss Boothroyd said: "We've given ourselves a good chance against a good team in the second leg.
"We've worked so hard and played so well (in the first leg) that you want to finish it off, but Cheltenham will still fancy their chances.
"The second leg of a play-off you know what you've got to do, you know what it's all about and we think we can go and score at any place, we've proved we can do that.
"We've got to make sure we keep very, very solid because we'll get an onslaught and we'll have to be able to deal with it.''
He added: "The tie's wide open, it's only half-time and we've got to make sure we go there and get a very good result.''
Northampton skipper Kelvin Langmead and Clive Platt could return to play some part.
Defender Langmead returned to the bench for the 1-0 first-leg win after being sidelined since the end of March with a knee injury.
Striker Platt (calf) had missed the previous three games before also being named among the substitutes on Thursday night and both players will be hoping to feature.
Winger Ishmel Demontagnac lasted 76 minutes in the first leg after returning from a hamstring injury and will be monitored, while leading goalscorer Adebayo Akinfenwa and winger Chris Hackett played key roles for the Cobblers having been rested in recent matches.