A few weeks ago I wrote a blog piece about six things the Cobblers, and Chris Wilder, would need to win this fight against relegation. One of the ingredients I mentioned was the return of Kelvin Langmead. Here’s what I wrote:
“Another thing that isn’t in Wilder’s hands is the fitness of Kelvin Langmead. An absolute rock in the run to Wembley last season after an extraordinary personal renaissance, Langmead has been sorely missed having been rushed back from his initial injury blow. He hasn’t played at all this time out and as the length of time he’s been out for went on and on so did our fall from grace and to the foot of the table. If we’re to clamber out of this mess then we need Langmead back as soon as possible.”
What I didn’t ever expect is that an injury to Lee Collins would inadvertently bring us into contact with a man who’s starting to show all of the qualities that we’ve been missing in the middle of the back four since Langmead’s injury flared up again in the summer. On Saturday afternoon Zander Diamond, the loanee from Burton Albion, notched his first goal for the Cobblers to further endear himself to a Town support that had, even before then, been heralding his arrival as significant to any survival bid.
Diamond has made four appearances so far – the Cobblers have won two and drawn two in that spell and kept two clean sheets. Yesterday’s point at Scunthorpe and holding the Iron to a 1-1 draw with ten men was also significant and it’s no coincidence that the unbeaten run has coincided with Diamond’s arrival.
It’s not just the clean sheets that show a marked improvement. Diamond has brought the rest of the back four on with him, organising and being the key voice and leader at the back as well as rallying the rest of the team through games where our backs are against the wall. We could easily have surrendered when Southend United pulled us back to 1-1 at Sixfields but instead came back for a huge victory while Bristol Rovers, on another day, could have left with three points rather than just one.
And then there was Scunthorpe on Saturday – the one Langmead-like trait that was missing from Diamonds’ young Town career was a vital goal. Langers made it his trademark to pop up with equalisers and late winners at the end of our escape from the drop in 2012 and when Darren Carter swung in a free kick at Glanford Park Diamond needed no invitation to stoop and flick a header into the top corner.
It’s one of those unexpected moments that you look back on at the end of a season if things end up going your way and if Diamond nips in with a few more goals in that mould while remaining the stalwart figure he’s shown so far then we’ll all be clamouring for a permanent deal in the summer. Pairing him with his predecessor Langmead next season would be something to royally lick our lips about.
For now, though, there’s still a long way to go but four games into his Cobblers career, Mr Diamond is becoming a Cobblers’ best friend.
More puns to come throughout the rest of the season I’m sure…