ROB Hall is expecting a lively atmosphere tomorrow, after admitting Oxford United’s rivalry with Northampton Town took him by surprise last season.

While nowhere near the level of U’s clashes with Swindon Town, meetings with the Cobblers have carried an extra edge in recent seasons.

It reached its peak when the pair won automatic promotion from Sky Bet League Two in 2016.

Comments from Michael Appleton about his runners-up being the best team in the division did not go unnoticed at Sixfields.

The Cobblers finished eight places below the U’s last season, but did win 1-0 at the Kassam Stadium on Boxing Day.

Hall said: “Last year I was a bit blind to it. I didn’t know the comments from the season before, but I was told about them afterwards.

“The defeat was a bit sour, I do remember sitting in the changing room afterwards and it wasn’t nice.

“They nicked it in the 93rd minute.

“It was a good game to play in though, the crowd were right up for it, like they are most games.”

The winger returned to the starting line-up in midweek after a month out with a groin injury.

Hall’s goal in the 4-3 Checkatrade Trophy defeat was his fifth of the season, making him United’s joint top-scorer.

He said: “I thought I started the season well and then picked up a little niggle.

“When I do that we’re a bit more cautious from my previous injuries.

“I had to be patient again – and as soon as I got my opportunity I told myself I had to take it.

“I think I did that.”