NTFC Monthly Review: September – October 2012

Continuing on the monthly reviews, I’ll be looking back on everything that’s happened between September 14th and October 14thi.e. from Fleetwood away through to Saturday’s 3-0 win over Exeter City.

The results during this time were:

Fleetwood (a) 0-1, Dagenham (a) 1-0, Chesterfield (H) 0-0, Burton (a) 3-3, Gillingham (H) 1-2, Bristol Rovers (a) 1-3, Colchester (H) 2-1 and Exeter (H) 3-0. That’s a record of:

P: 8, W:3, D:2,L: 3

Once again, this isn’t meant as a match by match run down but more of a reflection of what’s gone well and where we need to improve. Hopefully by the end of the season it will make for an interesting look back. Let’s get cracking then!

What’s gone well?

Bayo’s back: Bayo Akinfenwa has scored in each of the Cobblers’ last four games and is starting to lead the chase on Alex Nicholls for leading scorer. I can’t remember the last time we had two strikers vying for top spots in the scoring charts for League Two but long may it continue. Bayo appears back to his ‘beastmode’ best in recent weeks and even partnered Clive Platt up front against Exeter to good effect.

The re-invention of characters: Two of last season’s premier outlets for frustration, Kelvin Langmead and Ben Tozer, seem to have emerged this season as completely different players. Langmead has continued to flourish as captain whilst Ben Tozer has really stepped up to the plate in the absence of Luke Guttridge and Ben Harding in the middle of the park.

The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy: Yes, we’re still there and face a home tie against Leyton Orient in the Southern Area Quarter Finals following the 2-1 home win over Colchester last week. That’s another decent tie for us and one that we’ll be hopeful of getting through considering the hard graft of getting past two of their League One rivals in previous rounds.

Team spirit: No-one can question the spirit in the Cobblers camp at the moment. It was highlighted by two good come backs at Burton from 2-0 and 3-2 down to claim a well-earned point whilst Colchester were also beaten from behind.

Holding on to leads: A key failing last season was the dropping of leads and that’s something that’s beginning to improve. In the three games that we’ve been in front in this month we have gone on to win whilst only the home draw with Southend and the 3-2 reverse at Plymouth have seen us drop leads during this campaign. Now all we need to do is get those leads more often!

What’s not gone so well?

Injuries: The key thing to hurt us this month has been injuries. Ben Harding is out for at least a month whilst Luke Guttridge will be missing until the New Year. John Johnson has been struggling and Danny East hurt his shoulder in the 3-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers. Fortunately, through good loan moves and shuffling of the pack we are getting by so far but we can afford no more major injuries.

Inconsistency: As it stands, the Cobblers have won four, drawn four and lost four of twelve league games this season. In the month in question it’s won three, drawn two and lost three in all competitions, making our position in twelfth place in League Two pretty spot on. If that’s to change for the better and we’re to be greedy and go for a playoff push then this obviously needs to change a bit. It’s hard to say that because I’ve generally been really happy so far and twelfth will do me fine if I’m honest but turning even two of those draws into wins would help us into the playoff reckoning so that needs to be the aim.

How can we improve?

As stated above, sorting out the inconsistency is the key for the coming month. This spell coming up a year ago was horrendous so anything like the form we’re in now would be an improvement on that! We have five games, all in the league in the next month – two at home and three away – and picking up more points on our travels could prove vital. There’s a couple of massive home encounters with Bradford and Port Vale to come so keeping up the decent Sixfields record will be tricky but if we can do that and pick up a bit on the road then we’ll be very happy when I write this feature again!

Goal of the month

A couple of contenders this month with Bayo’s well taken strike against Exeter in the mix following this weekend’s action but the Cobblers goal of the month this month just has to go to Alex Nicholls for his glorious lob to earn a point at Burton late on. If anything beats that this season I’ll be very surprised!

Previous Months

August 14th – September 14th: Jake Robinson (v MK Dons – JPT First Round)

Player of the Month

This is a tough one this month with Alex Nicholls still in good form and the aforementioned strength of Kelvin Langmead and Ben Tozer. But for a return to the starting line-up including some silky skills at Dagenham, four goals in four games and a cracker of a goal at the weekend, I’m going for the big man, Bayo Akinfenwa.

Previous Months

August 14th – September 14th: Alex Nicholls

Month rating

There’s been more just as many wins as defeats this month so the rating falls a little bit despite this week’s upturn. The Bristol Rovers defeat was hopefully only a minor blip but wasn’t pretty so that brings this month’s overall rating to 7/10.

Previous Months:

August 14th – September 14th: 8/10

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