NTFC Month in Review: October – November 2012

Bayo – leading the charge!

NTFC Month in Review: October -November 2012

Continuing on the monthly reviews, I’ll be looking back on everything that’s happened between October 14th and November 14th (From Barnet away to last night’s cup game at Bradford)

The results during this time were:

Barnet (a) 0-4, Bradford (H) 0-1, Port Vale (H) 2-0, Bradford (H) FA Cup 1-1, York (a) 1-1, Accrington Stanley (a) 4-2, Bradford (a) FA Cup Replay 3-3

P:7 , W:2, D:3,L: 2

The Bradford game last night goes down as a draw – it doesn’t seem fair to call it a defeat in this respect!

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. Here goes for this month..

What’s gone well?

Team Spirit – The last three away games all coming inside a week looked extremely tough on paper, particularly with the injury situation. But grabbing a point from York with ten men, winning emphatically at Accrington following Bayo’s stunning hat-trick and coming agonisingly close to knocking Bradford out of the cup away from home all shows progress from the start of this period and the almost unmentionable 4-0 defeat at Barnet. You learn a lot about players when the chips are down and in these last few games we’ve seen a real change in attitude from most of the squad. That includes…

The youth of today – The midfield trop of Emyr Huws, Lewis Hornby and Lewis Wilson against Port Vale was one of the youngest that we’ve ever fielded and on that day the potential came shining through. Horny in particular has shown real promise and is maturing in front of our very eyes match by match with assured performances in the middle of the park. Added to that, sixteen year old Ivan Toney came off the bench to set up a goal in extra time last night and is another that is getting a chance alongside David Moyo, another recent graduate.  Louis Moult is another that had begun to shine before his red card at York and he could be a key player once he returns. The future suddenly looks bright!

Bayo – The hat-trick against Accrington was amazing and it’s hard to imagine that it was his first in professional football. The big man has entered double figures for the season and has taken it upon himself to replace the goals that were being scored by Alex Nicholls prior to his horrific injury.

Support – Three away days in a week is a lot for anyone to take in but there’s been healthy away followings for all three trips all things considered. There’s also been a sense of realism around with expectations halted a little, ironically leading to better results on the pitch, in the wake of the injury situation.

Nicholls…major injury

What’s not gone so well?

Alex Nicholls’ horror injury – Up until the Port Vale game, Alex Nicholls was the Cobblers’ top scorer and arguably player of the season for the first couple of months. When he went through on goal against Vale, though, his whole campaign would turn upside down. Showing his usual guts and instinct, Nicholls raced onto a dodgy back pass, rounded the keeper and scored only to be clattered by John McCombe, whose challenge broke Nicholls’ leg in two places. It’s a long way back for the striker but early signs are that surgery has gone well so we look forward to seeing him back at Sixfields, as a supporter at least, very soon!

The Barnet hoodoo strikes again – You could probably write a book on how Barnet FC get under the skin of the Cobblers with a usual season seeing at least one result go horribly against us against the Bees. No change this time out with Barnet running riot on Edgar Davids’ debut to pick up their first win of the season against a very much out of sorts Town side.

Northampton 0-1 Bradford – This has been quoted by many as the worst game seen at Sixfields in many a year. It would be more acceptable had it remained 0-0 but getting nothing from such an encounter was the icing on top of a dreadful cake.

Penalty shoot-out agony – Despite not even expecting to get to penalties at Bradford, it was still a tough pill to swallow on Tuesday night to concede that last gasp equaliser and then have to face a shoot-out that it seemed written for us to lose.

Clean Sheets – Something that’s been lacking, barring the Port Vale shut out against ten men, is clean sheets. Just one in seven games isn’t great and we need to shore up in order to challenge more.

How can we improve?

At the moment the Cobblers seem on an upward curve but picking up another four points from the two upcoming home games would be just the ticket. In fact, four of the next five fixtures come at Sixfields if you include the JPT Area Quarter Final against Leyton Orient so there’s a big chance to make that next step up towards the playoff chasers. There’s a tough looking double with Cheltenham at home and Torquay away ending the sequence so points are needed against Wycombe, Morecambe and Oxford. Getting through to the Area Semis in the Paint Trophy would be nice too!

Goal of the month

I simply have to give this to Bayo for his amazing diving header at Accrington. If it had been anyone else it might have gone un-noticed but seeing the big man diving full length to put us in front is as beastly a sight as you’re likely to witness in League Two!

Previous Months

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

September 14th-October 14th: Alex Nicholls (v Burton Albion- League Two)

Player of the Month

With two defeats kicking off the month, this all has to be based on the resurgence from Port Vale onwards so for the second month running it’s going to be Bayo Akinfenwa. Close behind would be the emerging Lewis Hornby for some sterling efforts in midfield.

Previous Months

August 14th – September 14th: Alex Nicholls

September 14th – October 14th: Bayo Akinfenwa

Month rating

Putting aside the first two results, I’ve really enjoyed the month. There seemed to be a turning point against Port Vale as we rallied around the Alex Nicholls injury and everyone appears to be in the right mind set to battle for every point. It’s not been perfect but I’ll give it an 8/10.

Previous Months:

August 14th – September 14th: 8/10

September 14th – October 14th: 7/10

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