The Perfect Response

Mohammed

Northampton Town 5-1 Hartlepool United

League Two

Tuesday, September 16th 2014

As far as responses to a defeat goes this was pretty close to perfect. It was a night where, even after conceding a disappointing opening goal via a slip from Ryan Cresswell, the Cobblers opened their wings and let loose to devastating effect. Town showed some breath taking attacking flair, scored some excellent goals and completely blew away a Hartlepool side who didn’t know what had hit them by the end of a memorable night for Chris Wilder and his increasingly effective side.

An added bonus was the continuity of Marc Richards’ terrific run of form in front of goal. The striker is on fire at the moment and a brace against the Monkey Hangers takes him to seven goals this season already and to joint top in the League Two leading scorer charts. There were also classy performances from the likes of Kaid Mohammed, who returned after missing out at Newport to score twice himself, Chris Hackett and Lawson D’Ath. D’Ath was sent out from the start to partner Richards up front and his rise to prominence will be starting to worry Jon-Joe O’Toole, Ivan Toney and Emile Sinclair in terms of the battle for long term starting places.

You would never have guessed at what was to come when the visitors took the lead within the first minute of the game. Charlie Wyke, who later had to leave the field in worrying fashion on a stretcher, made the most of the Cobblers’ defensive error to race through and score past Jordan Archer in the Town goal.

But as soon as Richards had levelled with a penalty ten minutes later following Mohammed being felled in the area there was no looking back. Mohammed hit a sweet shot on the half volley for 2-1 after Chris Hackett had created the chance and the two combined again for the third with Hackett’s cross converted by Mohammed at the back post.

Wyke’s injury for the visitors seemed to hinder their attacking options with veteran Marlon Harewood ineffective after replacing the goal scorer. The Cobblers, though, were looking dangerous from every attack and added to their tally after the break.

D’Ath nicked a deserved goal to add to his growing collection and you would be a wise man to bet on his short term deal being extended sometime soon. He’s been effective pretty much every time he’s come off the bench and is up to four goals already including Saturday’s belter at Newport and Wilder must be looking at his contract situation this morning after another telling performance.

The last goal rounded things off marvellously as Richards produced another moment of magic to add to his own personal goal of the season competition with a stunning long range effort into the top corner. It was the perfect way to end a Cobblers performance full of intent and now focus has to go on not being complacent come the weekend visit of Accrington Stanley to Sixfields.

Stanley are reeling after losing at Oxford last night and sit in the lower reaches of the table so many will see them as there for the taking. What football does, though, is shoot you right in the foot if you get above your station and we have to channel all the positives from this win into doing it all again on Saturday. It’s a tough league to predict week in, week out and we’re not going to convert chances like this every time so it’s all going to be about finding consistency through winning in different ways.

This Cobblers side, though, is starting to look very, very exciting and giving us that hope that this could be a season we talk about long into the future for all the right reasons.

Fight back unable to hide disappointing day in Wales…

Richards...late goal not enough

Richards…late goal not enough

Newport County 3-2 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, September 13th 2014

The Cobblers came very close to getting themselves out of jail once again on Saturday but a late fight back wasn’t enough to cover up some of the earlier deficiencies that led to a second league defeat of the season. Newport had raced into a three goal lead and it always looked as though if we were to complete a stunning turnaround it would have been rough justice on the home side who had convincingly come past a Cobblers side strangely off colour for three quarters of the game.

Perhaps it was the fact that the so far inspirational Kaid Mohammed had to stay at home after picking up a foot injury and Matt Duke was ruled out of a start through a thigh problem but if we’re relying on too many individuals to perform then any hopes of a run at the top end of the table this season may fade quickly.

There seemed a bit of imbalance in midfield with Darren Carter returning to fill in for Mohammed and the home side settled well and deserved their eighteenth minute lead. It was one of those thorns in our side that put the Exiles in front as well – Chris Zebroski always seems to find his way onto the score sheet when he takes on the Cobblers and he did so once again by scrambling in the opener.

After Joe Day pulled off a good save to deny Ivan Toney the home side took a two goal lead to leave us with even more to do. Darren Jones’ shot took a nick off Ryan Cresswell to sail past stand in keeper Jordan Archer and by half time we’d not done enough to force any kind of fight back.

Chris Wilder brought on John-Joe O’Toole and Danny Alfei at the break to try and re-shape but the next goal was always going to be a big one. Unfortunately it went to the Exiles as Lee Minshull met a free kick to head home and all but end the game as a contest.

To be fair to the Cobblers, we gave ourselves some hope at least. Third substitute Lawson D’Ath manoeuvred into position and blasted it home from distance for 3-1 with fifteen minutes to play. Ten minutes later and a grand stand finish was in the offing when Marc Richards scored his fifth of the season by converting Alfei’s cross. One final chance fell to John-Joe O’Toole but Day stood tall to deny him, meaning that the good mini-run we were on comes to an end.

That temporary bubble has now popped and we’re left trying to take the only real positive we can in that we fought back and could have nicked something where a year ago we would have undoubtedly rolled over. Only a proper bounce back will fully work us through this defeat, though, and luckily we have a big chance to do just that on Tuesday night and then again on Saturday with two home games hopefully providing us with just the tonic.

Consigning this to the history books, in other words, is the best bet before we go again back at Sixfields.

Newport County v Northampton Town: Match Preview

RP1

Newport County v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, September 13th 2014

There’s a feeling of growing momentum with the Cobblers as we head to Newport this weekend. The last gasp victory over Exeter City was followed, last Saturday, by a solid and brilliantly produced success at Dagenham and Redbridge where a storming first half was followed by a tighter second that helped us to see out three more League Two points. Chris Wilder has put together an exciting and fluent side and it makes a big change for us to be going into weekends genuinely excited about the Cobblers’ prospects.

To continue this good will, a result at Newport will be required and we come up against a side that are finally getting a feel for this season. Justin Edinburgh’s men, in their second season back in the Football League, lost their opening four games in all competitions but the last three have seen them taking a point against highly fancied Burton Albion, win at promotion favourites Portsmouth and nicking a draw at home to Cambridge United in the final minute of the game.

The Exiles were a rare entity to us last season in that Town did the double over them by winning 3-1 at Sixfields in our opening home game and then 2-1 at Rodney Parade back in January under caretaker boss Andy King. This time out there should be less of a surprising feeling should we come away with something from South Wales and with two home games following it up there would be increased excitement should this little upturn in results and performances continue.

Wilder’s biggest problem, in a good way, is in team selection. By all accounts Joel Byrom and debutant Ryan Watson put in an excellent shift at Dagenham in the middle of the park with Ivan Toney and Marc Richards continuing their flourishing partnership up front so you’d still be hard pushed to make a case for John Joe O’Toole to start. Chris Hackett and Kaid Mohammed are providing the ammunition from both wings and are conjuring up some fantastic displays between them to spearhead attacks. They are pretty nailed on to keep their places whilst at the back you would think it’s as you were with Ryan Cresswell easing into the team for his debut at Dagenham too. Emile Sinclair is one to come back into the squad after coming through his ankle injury but Lee Collins and Evan Horwood are both still out.

Newport announced the loan signing of Joe Piggott from Charlton Athletic this week and the striker is set to make his debut against the Cobblers. Piggott came through the ranks at the Valley but has seen first team chances kept to a minimum so far having spent time on loan at Bromley and Gillingham in the last couple of years.

I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying this winning feeling and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t continue for another weekend if we can capture the very best from what’s been an altogether solid start to the season. Dizzy heights of optimism!

Football League Show missing again…

FBLS6

There’s been plenty of complaints again over the last few hours about the Football League Show not being shown on International weekends so I thought I would re-post the response I had last year when complaining about the very same thing – if anyone gets anything different or less formulaic then please let us know!

Here’s a response to my complaint of November 2013…

Dear Mr Brothers

Reference CAS-2405174-1D570M

Thank you for contacting us regarding, ‘The Football League Show’.

I understand you’d like coverage of Leagues One and Two to be broadcast while International games are being played.

Unfortunately it boils down to contractual obligations, to explain, this is simply a contractual issue in that the current broadcast contract with the Football League which began this season stipulates that the BBC only produces a Football League Show on Saturdays on which there is a Championship fixture list.

ITV provide coverage of the Champions League, nevertheless, I can assure you that I’ve registered your comments on our audience log.

This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are made available across the BBC.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Patrick Clyde

BBC Complaints

Victoria Road winning streak goes on…

Rico

Dagenham and Redbridge 0-2 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, September 6th 2014

Dagenham and Redbridge must really hate the Cobblers coming to town. Over five visits, we’ve become that unwanted guest at their dinner party that just keeps turning up, eating all the food and leaving without uttering a word to anyone. It’s pretty rude of us.

After another win at Victoria Road, on this occasion a tame 2-0 in comparison to the jubilant scenes at the end of last season, the Cobblers are sitting pretty in the top seven of League Two and showing no signs at all of returning to the sort of trouble we were in back in April. This time out a brace was netted not by an up and coming youngster but by a wily experienced head with Marc Richards moving to four for the season with a double that takes him, quite ridiculously, to within one goal of matching last season’s leading scorers for the whole campaign Darren Carter and Luke Norris.

The damage, as in April’s win, was done mainly in the first half with Rico taking little time to add to last week’s winner against Exeter by finishing off a good move that involved Ivan Toney and Kaid Mohammed. It was a familiar sinking feeling for the home fans against the Cobblers and we were off and running once again.

Chris Hackett and Richards again tested the home goalkeeper Liam O’Brien before the second came when the Town striker rose highest after losing his marker from a Joel Byrom corner to nod home and to give Town complete control. He could have had a hat-trick, too, when his goal bound effort was stopped on the line by Brian Saah.

The second half was all about holding on to what we had but after Matt Duke was tested by a Luke Howell effort and the evergreen Jamie Cureton shot into the side netting things calmed down and the Cobblers shut up all avenues to their goal to clinch the points and yet another clean sheet at the home of the Daggers.

It’s an astounding sequence of results at Victoria Road – I can’t think of many places where we’ve had such a run in recent years and it’s hard to imagine it happening anywhere else for us for quite some time. Still, each game does have its own story and this one will be remembered for Marc Richards hopefully setting his stall out for the rest of this season and for a good clean sheet start for new boy Ryan Cresswell at the back.

Things are shaping up very nicely indeed as we head into a run of games that, on paper at least, could continue to throw us points to keep us within touching distance at least of the front runners. Dagenham and Redbridge will just be happy that their obligatory home defeat of the season is now out of the way before it does too much damage…

Returning to the home of euphoria…

daggers1

Dagenham and Redbridge v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, September 9th 2014

Victoria Road was home to extraordinary scenes back in April as an Ivan Toney inspired Cobblers side produced one of the most memorable away days since our return to League Two and went a long way to ensuring that we stayed in the Football League. Now, with that status ensured and a whole new outlook in place we head back to a hunting ground that’s not just been happy but absolutely joyful over the last few years.

Town have won all four of their games at Dagenham and Redbridge’s home since they made it into the Football League, scoring six and not conceding once. Three 1-0 victories there led us to last season’s 3-0 epic and the Daggers will be looking to put all that to bed on Saturday afternoon. They’re not just going for their first home win over the Cobblers either – Town have dropped just two points against them (a 2-2 home draw last season) in the clubs’ eight meetings.

If they are to stop the rot they’ll need to out manoeuvre new Cobblers signing Ryan Cresswell who goes straight into the side in place of the injured Lee Collins. Cresswell is the closest thing we’ll get to a ‘marquee signing’ at the moment and his experience at this level should be a huge plus for Chris Wilder and co. Fellow loan signing Ryan Watson is also in the squad and should play some part but with Darren Carter also ready to return there’s plenty of competition in the middle of the park. Emile Sinclair is rated as “touch and go” whilst Danny Alfei will miss the game either through injury or, if not that, through a call up to the Wales Under 21s squad.

The Daggers are on a three game unbeaten run having started the season with back to back losses at home to Morecambe and at Burton Albion. A 2-0 win at Hartlepool ignited the campaign and they followed that result up with a home victory over Mansfield Town by the same score line. Last weekend, they came away from Oxford with a point from a 3-3 thriller in which Abu Ogogo netted the crucial equaliser twenty minutes from time.

The hosts have a few injury problems with Zavon Hines, Rhys Murphy, Christian Doidge, Billy Bingham and Josh Clarke all expected to miss the game. Jack Connors will miss the game after being called up to the Republic of Ireland’s Under 21s squad but Damian Batt could make a start after returning in the game at Oxford last week.

I’m cautiously hopeful about this one – Cresswell’s signing has increased the optimism around Sixfields and this will be a good tester for his debut. At the other end, a young man who came of age at Victoria Road last season will hopefully make a big difference again. Whatever has happened in the last few years goes out the window once 3pm comes around but we can still bask in the glory of this for just a bit longer yet…

Cresswell signing a signal of intent

ryancresswellFor the second transfer deadline day in a row, Cobblers fans were on the edge of their seats – a strange position given the amount of times we’ve seen the dreaded “No ins or outs on deadline day” message come out in the past. After January’s last ditch signing of Emile Sinclair, we were once again treated to some big news as the window began to close last night.

At around 8:45pm, a tweet was sent out by the club promising a ‘major signing’ to be announced at 9:30pm – giving those of us on Twitter 45 minutes to speculate and predict who this big name was. No-one came close in the end and it was a very nice surprise when the announcement first came through from Fleetwood Town that we had paid a transfer fee (thought to be up to £150,000) for Ryan Cresswell.

For a centre back with multiple promotions, places on Teams of the Season and a reputation as one of the best defenders at this level it represents fantastic business. There’s an argument that we have plenty of cover in that position but when you consider that Lee Collins is likely to be out for a while, Kelvin Langmead is missing and Gregor Robertson and Ben Tozer are covering the full back positions it makes some sense. In addition to that, though, Cresswell is an outstanding signing for League Two and when you get a chance to bring in a leader of this calibre then you just have to go for it.

Credit has to go to David Cardoza again here – when he’s had the decision to make as to whether to put his hand in his pocket for Chris Wilder he’s done it and hopefully his trust is rewarded in the coming months.

The day had already seen one move in and one out of Sixfields with Alex Nicholls making his expected move on loan to Exeter City. I’d expected the deal to be until January, and that could still happen with an extension, but the month long agreement means that Nicholls can hopefully get some fitness and score some goals and then give Chris Wilder a big decision to make. It’s a great deal for all parties and it’s great to see Nicholls back on a football pitch again wherever he is.

Coming in to bolster the middle of the park is Leicester’s Ryan Watson on a loan deal until January. Watson has apparently been chased by Wilder since the Town boss came to the club so he’s got his man to provide more competition in midfield. I’m intrigued to see how Watson fits into the already bursting melting pot in that position and wonder if there’s any other niggling injuries in there that are worse than initially thought.

What Chris Wilder has done in this transfer window is provide us with a terrific squad to take us through the next few months. Whereas in the past we’ve had to dip into the loan market if a sudden injury rocks us, this time we seem to have ready-made competition already in the squad to step in.

An excellent Deadline Day all in all – now to translate the excitement and hype to the pitch.