'Hopefully he goes home with a sad face' – Former Hartlepool United and Kilmarnock striker set to return to Victoria Park with Northampton Town
Hartlepool United will welcome a familiar face back to Victoria Park this Saturday when they host Northampton Town (3pm kick-off).
Striker Nicke Kabamba returns to Pools with The Cobblers eyeing his first goal of the 2021-22 League Two campaign.
The 28-year-old scored 14 goals in 48 appearances for Pools between 2019 and 2020 before leaving to join Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock for an undisclosed fee.
This season, Kabamba has returned south of the border with Northampton, who have made a respectable start to life in League Two following relegation.
And Pools boss Dave Challinor is hoping his former forward will have a frustrating afternoon at The Vic.
“Nicke was great when he was here, a really really good lad,” Challinor said. “He is still really good mates with all the ones that were in the house.
“Obviously he went up to Scotland and things didn’t quite work out for him but in the long term and the grand scheme of things, he’s gone from leaving here as a National League player and got himself an opportunity back down south in the Football League.
“He’s been in and out [of the team]. They’ve tended to change their shape a little bit when they’ve been away from home, they’ve tended to play with one striker and when they’ve been at home, they’ve played with two.
"We’ll see whether he starts the game or impacts the game but when he was here and still is a really good lad and one that I’m looking forward to saying hello to but hopefully he goes home with a sad face.”
Northampton sit 10th, a point above Hartlepool in the League Two table and have lost just once away from home in seven matches in all competitions this season.
United remain unbeaten at The Vic with the best home record in the country in 2021 – winning 18 of their last 21 matches on home soil. And they would leapfrog their opponents back into the top half of the table with another victory this weekend.
“The league table is pretty tight right the way through,” Challinor added.
“From our perspective, it's another good opportunity to get three points. We've still got a good record at The Vic, take away the point last time against Exeter which I maintain was a good point.
"It's another tough game for us but it's one where we know the team coming up against us will be expecting a tough game. I'm sure the place will be bouncing again and it's an opportunity for us to perform against a side with only a point between us and a chance to jump above them.
“Going into it, we expect different scenarios from the game in terms of shape, in terms of they've played differently at home compared with away and we'll see whether that's the case or not. We've got to look after ourselves and we know if we produce the best part of us then we've got a good chance of winning.”