Saturday, October 26th 2013
The Cobblers continue to tread the line at the bottom of League Two with a home draw yesterday against an improving Cheltenham side providing another example of Aidy Boothroyd plugging gaps and scrapping out for points rather than showing any real intent of blowing teams away at what was, last season, a fortress. Of course, last season’s phenomenal run at Sixfields didn’t start until the end of December but at the moment it’s very difficult indeed to envision anything even close to that sort of form this time around.
Oddly, we’re only four points worse off than at this time last year (I envisioned it being more) but the general mood is not one that would suggest that supporters believe in the current crop of Town players to pull off a second successive run from nowhere to challenge at the right end of the table. What is apparent, though, is that Boothroyd and his men need to start delivering points in threes to get out of this mess. While we try to do that, we may not get the most sparkling performances but I get the feeling that anxiety is spreading from the stands to the players with shaky defending and miscued passes still in abundance.
The issues with scoring goals is still providing a lot of worry with Luke Norris the only one looking likely to be consistent in that department. Norris has scored three in three and the nature of his loan deal means that he’ll be reporting back to Brentford soon so we need to try and get him tied up for the season and give him some support up front. Roy O’Donovan is now out for a month whilst Clive Platt isn’t the answer so the promised new loan forwards could do with finalising their deals too. The very fact that we’re relying on these short term solutions could well link to supporter apathy. There’s clearly been some missed chances in the transfer window over the summer and we must learn lessons. As fans we need players who are going to come in and make the claret shirt their own…it’s great when you get a fantastic loanee but short term deals never capture our imagination as much as someone that we know will be playing solely for the Cobblers.
Anyway, that’s all to be sorted hopefully if the ever growing quotes of “the new striker will be here tomorrow” or “we’re very, very close to a deal” are to be believed.
Back to yesterday and Cheltenham were in no mood to feel sorry for our plight with their own plight to deal with. They started off where they’d left off against Morecambe on Tuesday night when Byron Harrison found far too much space in the area to rifle in the opening goal after just nine minutes. That was exactly what we didn’t need.
There seemed no real threat to that lead with Harrison coming close to doubling it in the best opening of the first half an hour but just before the break Town grabbed a life line, seemingly out of nowhere. Confusion in the Rubies’ area was capitalised on by Norris who took his chance to round the keeper and slot in to continue his terrific loan spell. 1-1 at the break and it would get no better for Boothroyd.
In fact, Matt Duke was the star man again which says a lot about how the second forty five minutes went. Sam Deering, creator of the first goal, raced through one on one but Duke did well to get down for the save before Harrison was also foiled by the Town stopper.
Ishmel Demontagnac came on and was, inevitably, involved in the final few minutes with a good run and shot as well as being fouled by Jason Taylor. Taylor was booked but knew exactly who he was dealing with and stood over Demontagnac, winding him up enough to draw a booking for the Cobblers player as well. The conundrum that is Demontagnac will puzzle us right up until he departs our shores but at the moment he’s a wild card that we arguably could make use of, particularly off the bench when there’s little time (supposedly) for him to get into trouble and tired defender to charge at.
So another home draw and still no progress up the table with Accrington’s win at Morecambe taking them to the same amount of points as us. Suddenly it’s all tightening up and we simply have to get out of this pack as soon as possible. Easier said than done!
This afternoon sees the FA Cup First Round draw and I’ve heard a lot of people calling for a clash with the Posh in a local derby. Whilst that would give us something fun to look forwards to, do we really want to face a side that scores for fun, is well drilled and who will likely provide us with a derby day to forget and Boothroyd with yet more pressure?
No thanks, a fun non-league team at home would be my pick…I’ve always enjoyed learning more about ‘smaller teams’ down the footballing pyramid and mixing with fans you would never usually see so this afternoon I’m hoping for a tie with Biggleswade or Stourbridge rather than a potentially damaging derby. We’ll have Posh in Round Three when we’re back in mid-table and on an upward curve. The kiss of death…