More away day blues…

Eastwood...second goal

Eastwood…second goal

Southend United 2-0 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, August 17th 2013

The pattern has started again. Win at home, lose away…the staple diet of the Cobblers in 2013 goes on after a second trip in a row ended with Town finishing a game with ten men and on the end of a defeat. Last year’s jaunt to Southend ended with us benefiting from Bilel Mohsni’s early bath but this time around it was the hosts who would have that bit of extra space on the pitch after Chris Hackett’s return ended in two mistimed challenges and a red card within half an hour.

There had already been plenty of drama at Roots Hall and it looked to be going swimmingly early on as the Cobblers were awarded a penalty when Joe Widdowson was brought down. Early top scorer Roy O’Donovan stepped up at the same place where he netted a few months ago and you would be fancied him to convert for his third of the season but Daniel Bentley in the Shrimpers goal got to it and from there you had the sense that his side had the impetus.

Hackett, making a surprise start after recovering from injury, replaced Ian Morris from the start (himself a victim of a late setback before the game) but his comeback lasted just twenty two minutes as two bookable offenses saw him leave us with ten men for the second away game in succession. It was a huge blow as we had seemed to settle well in the early going and were causing the hosts a fair few problems.

Lee Collins gave us brief hope when his header was cleared off the line but as soon as the home side took the lead through Anthony Straker’s close range finish it was a long road back that we never really looked like getting on to.

The second goal, through Eastwood himself, killed off any real hope of a fight back with half an hour to go and it could well have been more if it hadn’t been for the once again excellent Matt Duke in the Cobblers goal. That’s three out of four games where Duke has prevented us from losing outright or losing by more than we did and he’s looking like one of the early success stories of a stumbling start.

It’s all too easy to now say that we’re at home next week so it’ll all be OK but we know that football doesn’t work like that. We will lose games at Sixfields and so must get it right on the road. It starts with scrambling out single points and as ugly as that might be it’s essential that we can grind out results on the road. We can’t keep replying on home form to keep us afloat and that will only get us so far.

Keeping all eleven men on the pitch would be the best way to start…

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