This season has started off pretty much how the last one ended. A scrappy away defeat and a decent home win – a pattern that has been the tone of things since the turn of the year. The Cobblers undoubtedly missed out on automatic promotion last season because of the away record that was second worst in the entire league and this time around we must lay those problems to bed if we’re to sustain a challenge.
So how do we solve our biggest dilemma in the away day hoodoo? It’s a headache for us all that despite a well ground out 3-1 win over Newport that the tactics of Aidy Boothroyd will change as soon as we board any coach away from Sixfields. In a way it’s fair enough and you regularly see the best of teams pack out midfields away from home in the hunt to take something out of the game. But to get the absolute maximum it’s going to take some bravery and adjustment from the Cobblers boss.
Boldness is the word I would use. In League Two it’s kind of expected that an away team will shut up shop and wait for the hosts to show their hand first. But what Newport did so well on Saturday before Town settled was that they just went for the juggler straight away as if they were the ones playing at home. We could easily have been three down in the opening fifteen minutes had it not been for Matt Duke absolute heroics in goal and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one panicking about a long afternoon in the Sixfields sun.
When we did get going we showed that our attacking prowess was more technically sound than last season. Yes, there were a few direct balls forward but it was also less hoof and hope and more straight to a man. So we can do it and now need to take the bold step of ‘doing a Newport’ to Southend but actually succeeding in putting the ball in the net.
It’s not to say that we become reckless and I see the merits in a 4-5-1 formation still but there’s still room for that to be an attacking formation perhaps with Roy O’Donovan switching to the left of the attacking midfield and cutting in to support the excellent Jacob Blyth when needed. The difference between Blyth and Clive Platt is that Blyth can work hard with the best of them and to say he freshened up the front line on Saturday is the understatement of the season so far.
Southend is always a tough trip and with the Shrimpers collecting maximum points from their opening two games (two 1-0 victories) it’s looking that bit more difficult this time around. But if Town can be bold and take the bull by the horns it could be a catalyst for a change of immense importance for the coming season.